Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Lotus position.

Virgin on the ridiculous.

Bare ladies. There are loads of them at Virgin Active in Streatham. They are in the changing rooms and the sauna. One of them, a large, bare, elderly lady, attempts to climb up to the bench above me in the sauna where I'm warming up after my swim, and slips on the way. The resulting view I’m afforded will haunt me for some time. My brother tells me that’s nothing. He was once in a sauna with a naked friend whose limbs locked in the lotus position. He was taken to hospital, where they carried him through A&E in nothing but a towel, looking like half a person, the bottom bit missing. He was right as rain after a shot of muscle relaxant, though. That story's probably not true but it had me laughing so much I was bent double.

Getting warm.

It’s not that I’m shy about nudity. As I've explained before I grew up in a liberal (and Liberal) household where we were taught that the naked body is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s just that the nudity in the changing rooms at Virgin Active, Streatham takes me by surprise because I’m new to it. I didn’t join as a New Year’s resolution, I joined about a month ago because I was fed up of Streatham pool. Don’t get me wrong, the pool at Streatham pool is second to none, it’s just everything around it that's crap. Conversely the pool at Virgin Active is a bit crap, while everything around it is second to none. Dirty showers and rude staff got me down at Streatham pool, but being admonished by a teacher gave me a final reason to quit. "If you’re not out of that cubicle dressed in two minutes you miss playtime!" he yelled, rapping his knuckles on my door. When I emerged I was in the middle of Year 6. "Please, sir," I said, "could I be excused to go home now?" As I left he winked at me. I don’t know which was more unsettling: the threat of punishment or the flirting.

Nudity aside it's working out fine at Virgin Active. I like that I get towels and don’t have to take one, even if they are the size of postage stamps. I like that the shower spray is constant and not intermittent. The padlock for my locker is a bit of an issue. The other day I reset it by accident. Nothing will make you feel so vulnerable as standing with nothing between you and the rest of south London but a minuscule towel, with everything you need entombed in a locker before you. 

Hurt locker.

Fortunately the bare lady I encountered in the sauna was now dressed and offered help. She went away briefly, to return with the biggest bolt cutter I’ve ever seen in my life. Since then I've bought a new lock. But I’ve taken to keeping my bag poolside, where I can keep a weather eye on it all the same.

Lady in the van.

Rage. There you are bubbling along nicely, the next minute it's spewing forth like lava. We all have it, just some people keep a lid on it better than others.

No one rowed in our house over Christmas. It was goodwill in Tooting and peace to all men, women, partners, children, grandparents, and mothers-in-law. Which is perhaps why, the very next day after the parentals had gone (my sister-in-law's name for them), Husband and I started yelling at each other for practically no reason. Think about it: there’s only so much nice you can be. It ran out.

We settled on a walk on Wimbledon Common. The boys wouldn't come. "Just you and me, then," said Husband, "and you can drive." "Ok," I said, "but the choice of music is mine." I can’t drive without music. To me they go together like cheese and.... well, crackers, obviously.

Wombling free.

This raised the issue of the broken Mac disc drive in my office. I moaned about this, again. Husband reckoned I could sort it out for myself, again. I reckoned I’d done quite enough sorting, again. Barely out of first gear down the road, he was shouting and I was shouting. Out of nowhere I was swerving toward the pavement, telling him if he insisted on having this stupid argument about the music-syncing again he could forget the walk together and walk home by himself instead, which he did.

Of course I didn’t really want him to get out of the car. There’s always that split second when you do something or say something you can’t quite believe you just did or said. Arguments are like that, every time. You want to reverse, rewind, erase. You can’t.

Later I prepared dinner and we all ate together. Husband kindly asked if I’d like a glass of wine. I politely replied no thank you because I'd already poured one. He washed up. I sat next to him watching University Challenge as he answered an extraordinary number of questions, as usual. We both watched Lady in the Van that I'd recorded over Christmas. "I don’t know why I’m watching this with you," he said, "but it's strangely compelling." 

"Because it's slow," I said, placing my legs across his lap. 

"So why are there two Alan Bennetts?" He said. 

"I suppose it’s a device," I said, "so we know what he’s thinking."

"In accommodating her, I find 20 years of my life has gone," says one of the Alan Bennetts.

"If I was with her every day for twenty years, I'd strangle her," says Husband. 

"I’d be lost without you," I say. 

"Ditto," he says.

Love E x


P.S. "You don't put yourself into what you write, you find yourself there," says one of the Alan Bennetts.


  1. Totally know how you feel.. we argued over how much the homemade soup should be pureed! (and we watched University Challenge and Lady in a Van with the Parentals.) We had 3 sets of visitors over 10 days - peace reigns here at last!

  2. Yeah, Christmas is mad. I made 3 trifles in one week. E x :)