“A morning walk seems to prepare me for the day. It is a terrible cliché, but it is true. Like so many terrible clichés. Stephen Fry is a very famous actor, comedian and writer. He’s known for everything from expressing the entirety of Harry Potter on an audiobook (in UK), various performances from Blackadder to Doctor Who to The Hobbit and for his public recognition of having a bipolar disorder.
And today you can go for a walk with him. Apple Fitness + is the subscription service built around Apple Watch so that whether you’re watching on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, your heart rate readings are shown on screen.
But there is a Fitness + workout designed to work only on Apple Watch: Time to Walk. Go for a walk and you’ll be accompanied by the voice of the guest who – and here’s why it’s such an intimate experience – also went out for a walk at the same time.
During the walk, you will see photographs appear on the watch screen according to the guest’s story. Fry begins by talking about his childhood and how he was different from everyone else around him. Fry is a talented storyteller and his first story, about his discovery of Oscar Wilde as a child, first his plays, then the story of Wilde’s punishment for his homosexuality. As Fry says, “And that’s what really changed me forever, because a crime that I knew inside was something very deeply related to me, that Wilde’s nature was my nature, that what we would now call sexuality, we have shared. ” Fry is incredibly eloquent about the nature of discovering that your sexuality is not socially the most conventional. But it is even more endearing, even moving, when he describes his visit where Wilde is buried in Paris.
Fry walks in Regent’s Park in London, my favorite park to walk my dog, in this case and indeed I have seen him there several times. Fry talks about the importance of walking to him and the walking that led him to meet and team up with Hugh Laurie, his comedic partner and great friend.
His third stroll deals with his mood swings and chronicles how he came out of a room he was performing in, in London’s West End, when he felt his life was a failure. Locate an image on Apple Watch showing a front page newspaper headline that says “Fears As Fry Goes Missing.” His analysis of mental health is intellectually rigorous, as you would expect, but also inspiring.
Regent’s Park, as I can confirm, overlooks London Zoo, and walkers can spot tigers, penguins, giraffes and Amy and Genghis, the pair of camels that are easily visible from your walk from various points. You will see a photo of Fry and one of the camels.
As it’s Time to Walk, there’s music too, starting with Lou Reed’s Perfect Day, a wonderful accompaniment to any walk. Then there’s a tune I’ve heard Fry recommend before, Herb Alpert’s Spanish Flea and his Tijuana Brass. “If there was ever a melody to blow, literally jump. Cheerfulness spreads… sometimes complexity is nothing compared to cheerfulness.
And finally, there’s Incredible by EMF. “It makes you want to pogo, just listening to it. It’s a bit like a chili sauce, it spices up anything.
Fry ends with a wonderful riddle about what the walk meant to him: “How can I tell you what I’m thinking until I’ve heard what I’m about to say?” I will let you hear his answer for yourself.
It’s fabulously accessible, funny, touching and uplifting listening. Enough to get you thinking. While you are walking.