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After a longish period, with not much happening at all, the last week has been a particularly good time for reviews of my 'nostalgedy&#...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Change in the Changing Room Part 2

It was the memory of all this that came back to haunt me when I first joined the Health Club (oh keep up at the back; I mentioned this in the first paragraph of the first part). Gone are the slatted benches and coat hooks of yore. Now we have lockers, televisions pumping out 24 hour Sports Channels, hair dryers and all manner of scented lotions. Of course, the joy of having lockers, as opposed to coat hooks, is that there is considerably less chance that you are likely to find your attire for the remainder of the day being used as a rugby ball by your peers or for it to appear unceremoniously dumped in a pile (and/or a puddle) by the subsequent class (always likely at Anglesey though not a strong possibility in a present-day health club, but you never know).
Although the modern-day changing rooms may have lost the Spartan ethic of my school days, the macho-man style so beloved of my P.E. Teachers is still there but just expressed in an entirely different way, such as:
Aggressive use of a deodorant
From time to time, an aspiring dominant male will form a noisy and noisome cloud of deodorant, ideally from a high-pressure, ozone-layer depleting canister. This is usually strongly perfumed and endorsed by some celebrity with no sense of smell or taste, and is guaranteed to have the same effect as tear gas on anyone within a 10 yard radius.
Making a noise like a hippopotamus on heat
There seems to be a need to make constant grunting and snorting sounds, occasionally punctuated by the apparent attempt to regurgitate something unpleasant from the back of the throat. This tends to be particularly evident in the showers, where it is often accompanied by apparent slurping sounds that defy description and which do not encourage further contemplation. The other day I was surprised to hear a sound akin to a small duck being sick. I can only imagine that all this is to counter any impression that there is anything less than masculine about wandering around with a towel around your waist, applying moisturiser to your face and mousse to your hair. Desmond Morris and David Attenborough would have a field day.
Hitting yourself whilst naked
Yes, honestly! I didn’t believe it either. Perhaps I had wandered into a ‘Sumo Wrestlers’ only’ session by mistake. The only saving grace, I suppose, is at least they’re not trying to hit anyone else whilst naked (which doesn’t bear thinking about).
Finally (yes, there’s that word you’ve been hoping for), back to the conversation that prompted all this changing room reflection. To understand the full horror of this you really have to understand the psychology of those of us who are ‘follically challenged’. The delusion that enables us to walk out of the door in the morning and gets us through the day is that ‘It isn’t that bad really’. This is a delusion that is frequently punctured by the hairdresser’s mirror or the first drops of rain, but, for, most of the time, it works. However, as I was standing in front of the mirror in the Health Club changing room, attempting to plaster (with the aid of mousse and a high-velocity hair dryer) what is left of my hair into something approaching a style, this gent who must have been at least two decades older than I am, came up and stood next to me, flicked the few remaining pure-white tufts of hair on his head this way and that, and said – “We’ve got to make the most of what we’ve got left, haven’t we?”.
My confidence and self-image can now be found, holding hands and whimpering, standing by the lockers and holding a note asking that they be excused any further physical activity involving changing rooms as their owner says they’re suffering from stress!

The first collection of stories - "Steady Past Your Granny's" is now available in Kindle e-book format at Amazon UK and Amazon USA