I have got back into exercising this week, having more or less shaken off this very persistent cold (a tiny vestige survives in my chest, but fuck it, I’ve had enough kowtowing to my bacteria overlords). My weight is fluctuating but suddenly leapt upwards last weekend and with Christmas ahead it seems unlikely that I will pull things back (though I lost weight in December last year). It’s an exciting race to the end of year weigh-in. Those of you who guessed around 85kg are looking good, but it could still go either way (within 2kg parameters). I am still hoping I can get down to around 82kg, but it seems unlikely.
Anyway, I went swimming for the first time since September today and had a surprising degree of energy and kept going for longer than expected. It immediately gave me a lift and I went to the gym cafe and wrote a treatment for radio that I’ve been meaning to get done for the last fortnight. Yesterday when I’d been to the gym I had looked into the pool and it was completely empty at 4pm, so thought I’d go at that time today, but I had miscalculated. There was a kids swimming club and loads of other children in there and only one lane for grown up and serious swimmers like me. Luckily all other adults had been scared from the place in a reverse Pied Piper effect so I had the lane to myself for most of my swim. My only concern was that I would look like I had deliberately chosen to swim at this time so I could be surrounded by semi-clad children (my Top of the Pops presenting and Marathon running being held in judgement against me - though I am very much the necrophile rather paedophile charity DJ and only the adult dead interest me, in humans and animals. I am not a pervert). The truth was I had chosen this time so that I would not be surrounded by kids, but in today’s paranoid world it was a vaguely unsettling situation to be in.
Afterwards in the changing room Herring’s Law (that whichever locker you choose, when you come back someone will be using the next locker to yours) came true with bells on. Not only was the next locker door open and blocking my locker, but it was being used by a man who had three young daughters with him, all sprawled out over the adjacent seating area, getting dressed after their swim. This is a much weirder situation to find yourself in. Especially when naked except for a towel. Should I wait until they were gone? They were taking ages. Or just get my stuff out of my locker and move it elsewhere? Possibly, but I had more stuff than I could carry and what if my towel fell off as I was juggling it all? I got to my locker and tried to work out what to do, but the father (one would assume) of these three children was not making it easy for me. His bag was blocking my locker and he made no attempt to herd his children along to one end of the bench. I didn’t need loads of space, just somewhere to put my clothes and bag, but he didn’t seem bothered either by the awkwardness of having his kids in this situation or the rudeness of occupying the whole space. “Could I get a bit of space?” I asked and the man, as if he hadn’t noticed me was suddenly all plummy politeness. He was it turned out, clearly rather posh and so naturally only gave a fuck about himself and hadn’t even noticed this awkwardly embarrassed pleb trying to work out what to do in this socially weird situation. He moved his bag and I hovered at the end of the bench, trying to get behind a pillar and eased on my pants under my towel. Was I being odd for not moving elsewhere, or was he being odd for not taking his kids into the family changing cubicle? Had I committed a crime by putting on my pants near some children? I had felt like a criminal for swimming near some kids, so surely this was worse.
The man was discussing with his eldest daughter (too old to be in the men’s changing room I would say, though I had fastidiously avoided looking at the kids directly for fear of lifelong imprisonment) whether she wanted to do ice skating or drama next term. She clearly wanted to do both but there was some clash of dates. “Conceivably you could do both,” he told her, “You’ll be getting private ice skating lessons so you can do them whenever you like.” The girl reacted as if getting private ice skating lessons was the most normal thing in the world and agreed that she’d like to do both, with no question of that being a massive privilege or a drain on family resources. No wonder this man wasn’t embarrassed to have his children in the male changing rooms. He was so posh that normal ethics did not apply to him. I imagine that when the posh people get together they take off all their clothes and have sex with whosoever they please. I would have called this a crazy fantasy, but the news seems to be confirming my wildest imaginings. This posh rich man, failing to notice that he was monopolising the changing room bench or even causing any odd atmosphere for the other users of the gym symbolised everything that is wrong with our country. And yet it would be me, the damp middle-aged man in his pants, eavesdropping on a conversation between a father and his semi-clad nine year old daughter who would get society’s disapproval. Who is the real sick man in this so-called society, Stew….?
It’s me again isn’t it?