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Wednesday 15th January 2014


Fifteen days into the new year and I am maintaining my healthy lifestyle, even if this time round the weight is not dropping off me as quickly as it usually would. I swam for 30 minutes. As you'll know many things annoy me about lane etiquette at the pool - people selecting the wrong lane is the main issue - but recently the thing that bugs me is even more niche and specific (and some would say pathetic). A system is put in place within each lane to keep as many people swimming unimpeded in it as possible. Basically arrows indicate which side of the lane you should swim up and which down. This is a good rule and it's one I obey at all times, even if I am alone in the lane. But often when there are just two people in the lane, the other swimmer will decide they want to divide the lane into two lanes and ignore the arrow system. I do not like this, especially when they do it without asking. Not only does it lead to some momentary confusion as you turn to swim and find someone swimming towards you, but it can lead to potential disaster (using disaster in its loosest possible sense) if a third person then joins the lane. What if the swimmer now swimming in the wrong direction is doing backstroke? They won't see the new person and might collide with them. What if, as happened to me the other day, the new swimmer sees one swimmer swimming up the pool and one swimming down and assumes that that is the direction they should be swimming in (even though the arrows say otherwise)? The whole system breaks down and it is anarchy. The lifeguard came over to me, when this happened, to tell me that I had to swim in the right lane. I shouted back saying that that is what I wanted to do all along. It was the other swimmer who had broken the rules.

Why buck these rules at all? It's not as if you are saving time or making things easy for yourself by making your own lane - it's easy just to switch as you turn - plus with only two people in the pool overtaking is not an issue. It sets me on edge and full of worry when I am forced to break the perfectly good system as I fear that a new person will arrive at the wrong moment and my world will be destroyed.

It's less bad if the other swimmer at least asks to split the lane, but I would still tend to say, "No, I don't want to. There are rules in place for a reason. Would you decide to drive on the wrong side of the road because you'd cleared it with one other driver? No you wouldn't. What's wrong with you?" If I was a braver man, anyway. I usually just agree because I am intimidated

Today I was sharing a lane with my wife and she suggested that we split the lane. As this marriage goes on we are learning uncomfortable truths about each other. I had no idea she'd be a lane splitter. As it was my wife I told her that I refused to go along with her anarchic plan, but I was in any case so disgusted to be sharing a lane with someone with such a loose grip on ethics and morality that I switched to the centre lane as soon as it became free. Let her have the whole lane to herself if that's her attitude.

But then another lady got into my lane and decided to split it into two lanes without even asking me. I was too scared to challenge her and point out the rules and so swam for the next 25 minutes always fearing the arrival of a third middle lane swimmer. It didn't happen though. The lady got out first and I could return the lane to its proper order. Except I had already started a length on the wrong side and at that moment someone else got in and started swimming up the pool in the wrong lane. Nooooooo! Luckily it was time for me to get out.

I was also worried for the whole half hour that my wife would spot that I was now swimming in a divided lane and call me out on my hypocrisy and ask me why I wasn't challenging this stranger about the rules. My wife either didn't notice or turned a blind eye. This is the only way to keep marriages working.

Just obey the arrows. Why don't you just obey the arrows. I will make sure my second wife is the kind of person who obeys the arrows. It will be my first question on all future first dates (if my wife were to sadly die, maybe being drowned by some masked swimming pool superhero vigilante). And anyone who thinks it's OK to disobey the arrows is not going to get a piece of this.

After doing some work in Caffe Nero (writing not serving coffee) I headed into town for an interview. As it was a couple of hours before I was meant to meet the journalist I decided I would walk at least part of it. I ended up perambulating from Hammersmith to West Kensington. It took about an hour. It is a highly enjoyable way to travel in this city, as well as burning up well over 300 calories and giving me time to observe and to think. I was puzzled by some work being done on one of the buildings just beyond Kensington High Street. A massive structure has been built over the road which is four storeys high and clearly divided up into lots of different rooms. Is this a permanent thing or just a place for the people who live or work in the building that's being worked on to live and work. It seems like an awful lot of effort for a temporary structure. But I can't believe that it's going to be there for very long.

There's no real reason why the space above roads can't be utilised for housing. The noise and the fumes can be dealt with. Think of the prime real estate that could be put on offer if houses extended over the roads. I guess that the houses beside the road would lose a lot of light and if every bit of road was covered with houses then most of the houses would have no windows. But the occasional road house would be fine.

Once I was in town I popped into the Pret a Manger near Leicester Square tube to pass the remaining time before my interview. I happened to sit right next to a man I have seen a few times before and wondered about. He looks quite normal except for the fact that he is wearing a pyramid on his head. It's not a solid pyramid either - at least that would make sense - it's just some strips of metal at the edges with the faces left empty. It's mildly amusing, though it's no sombrero and though I was equally nervous to engage with a man with a pyramid on his head as I was with the sombrero man, the pyramid man always seems calm and unthreatening and apart from the pyramid on his head, not out of the ordinary. I asked on Twitter if anyone knew anything about his story and was sent this link, which goes some way to explaining things. So far not that many people seem convinced about the pyramid's ability to boost memory and protect the wearer from pollution, but you know people laughed at the idea of road houses once upon a time.

The pyramid man is committed to his pyramid in the face of what I imagine is some laughter and barracking and he clearly doesn't mind the attention it brings to him. In an increasingly homogonised world it's good to see someone unafraid to be eccentric.  He's surrounded by people who believe all kinds of crazy shit and display those beliefs in their clothing, jewelry, facial hair and hairstyles - what makes him so different?

Another date added to the We're All Going To Die! tour. I am playing the Machynlleth Festival on May 3rd. I will also be doing a RHLSTP there on May 2nd, though tickets are not on sale for that as yet (and I don't know who will be there to interview!). You can see all of the remaining tour dates here. There may be a couple more added (and I'd like to try and get to Belfast and/or Dublin if possible).

And I am delighted to say that the next Meaning of Life show on 26th January is selling really well. Would love to have a sell out. It's only £10. Buy your ticket here.

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