I’m probably showing my age but a seminal anthem of my youth was ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ by the original and phenomenal girl band ‘The Bangles’. Download it or watch the video on You Tube. Seeing is believing. To be honest, I have no idea what inspired the song or indeed what the hell it was about other than mocking Cleopatra-esque Egyptian stereotypes, but it was an anthem non the less. Imagine a whole race of people having a generic walk…….
Allow me to introduce what I call the ‘Marley Shuffle’ aka ‘Walk like a West Indian’.
When you move to a new country you take it for granted that you will have to adapt to your new surroundings and customs. It didn’t cross my mind that I would need to embrace a new method of walking. West Indians as a very general rule of thumb don’t like to get wet in the rain and they don’t like to sweat. Not getting wet in the rain is easily avoided, they simply don’t go out in wet weather (definition of wet weather means ‘chance of rain’ or ‘possible fine mist of drizzle’). Avoiding sweat in a tropical climate is slightly more problematic. I became aware quite early on that locals didn’t pick up their feet when they walked but rather dragged their feet with a shuffling scuffing motion. As an English woman who was sent to boarding school, anything other than a quick marching stride was drilled out of me from an early age. To me it seemed like a very laborious method of movement. Scuff, Scuff, Slide, Shuffle or to move at pace Scuff, Shuffle, Scuff, Shuffle. It simply made no sense to me, so I strapped on my sneakers and continued to charge around at city speed. Locals often commented ‘Why you move around so fast? Slow down’.
It wasn’t until this last summer that I finally figured it out. It was a particularly hot morning and by 8am quite frankly it was “el scorchio”. Having done the housework, I was already perspiring lightly (I’m a lady, I don’t sweat). As I stepped out of the house with my bags of rubbish, the heat of the sun made me swoon. I started walking slowly down the drive to the communal trash can. As I walked, in the silent morning, the only sound was the distinctive sound of my own feet, “scuff, scuff, slide, shuffle, scuff, scuff, slide shuffle”.
I paused, the penny dropped, it all made sense. The “Marley Shuffle” is a method of walking at one’s optimum pace without breaking into a sweat. It’s all proportionate. You add a shuffle to speed things up, a slide to slow things down and the gentle scuff scuff to keep things moving. I laughed as I realised I was walking like a West Indian, doing the “Marley Shuffle”.