For those readers new to these pages, you may not be familiar with my hate/detest relationship I have with the gym, as detailed last year here.. With it being January, and the amplified possession of post-Christmas physical excesses and Twiglet-derided guilt, the struggle continues unabated.
On top of the physical exertions, and the aspiration to regain the lack of shape one was less ashamed of when accelerating into December’s snack-fest, the gym has taken an odd place to actually try and mentally relax. Focussing on something other than the day to day pre-occupations and professional mind-mangling, I can almost find a solitary space that allows me to zone out without bothering anybody else. Unlike, say, motorway driving. As you will know, I am a very long way from achieving a zen-like inner peace, especially when the accompaniment to this routine is The Jesus Lizard, At The Drive-In or anything by Big Black.
However, there were three disturbances in my measly force within a forty minute period:
Disturbance 1) Last week I spent a day interviewing 6 candidates. There were two that were suitable, two that were probably decent human beings, and two that frankly would have appeared in their own More4 documentary, detailing the secret life of managers. It would have been fascinatingly shit to watch. The star of this presented themselves to me at an inopportune moment on a cross trainer. I was red of face, short of breath, and two bars away from shouting a chorus, when communication was attempted. Oh shit. I smiled/grimaced, nodded and hoped he would politely take himself the fuck away off. He did. Time to end session and go to machines….
Disturbance 2) Having escaped a conversation with the death of charisma, I retreated to another section of the gym. It was quiet. There was only myself and a woman on an adjacent machine. She was obviously no stranger to the gym, and was putting herself through what appeared a rigorous set. Between ‘sets’ (as I believe these proper fitty-types call them), my recovery time was working well. Deep breaths were being taken, until one deep breath brought in more than I thought was necessary. Like a shitty oxo, a waft of malodorous gas passed beneath my nostrils of such sour ferocity that I spluttered. There was only one other person within distance. It could only be her. So, I slowly turned my head in her direction. She remained facing forward, focussed, trying her best to ignore the inevitable guilt that she had to be feeling. I stared. Incredulous. Her eyes flicked left, caught mine, and she knew. She knew that her card had been marked, and quite possibly the gusset of her sportswear, with the stench of the uncontrollable. Right, I had had enough. Time to get out of here. Surely peace and tranquility lay at the bubbles of the spa, right? Right?
Disturbance 3) To be fair to the creator of Disturbance 2), if she could have waited until the spa, then there was a chance she would have got away with it. Due to the bubbling nature of the pool, concealing such an act would have been easy. There were others, maybe three or four. Two girls talking to each other, were discussing cosmetics, and their complexions. Not in itself out of the ordinary, you would think. What was out of the ordinary, however, was one of them dipping her ample face in the water, lifting it, turning to her friend, then using her two thumbs proceeded to squeeze her nose, producing multiple woodchip-like blackheads. Which, upon inspecting on her digits with a raised eyeborw, and a nod of appreciation, then rinsed them in the water. My limit had been reached, before my lips had been breached with the over-chlorined puss-water. Not the ideally relaxing moment in time I had planned.
It is proverbially said that bad things come in threes – like a starter, main and dessert from McDonald’s – and I can only assume that my bad luck at the gym has run its course – for now. The sensory overload should only be experienced in a scratch and sniff cinema, not in ‘real life’. Perhaps I shall retreat to the safety of the sofa. And the solitude of snacks.