Monday, 5 September 2011

Not to go on about Spinning, but...

There is no better Spinning image than this
Regular attendees of The Shouter's Spinning Class know that if you arrive late, you won't make the cut. All the spaces will be taken. You'll be left outside, bike-free, with nothing more than your own motivation between you and slobbery

Even traditionally early is not early enough. For a 7.15 start the class will be full by five past seven. One advantage of this is that if you're not really feeling up to it, you can turn up at 7.13 and tell yourself that it's not your fault that you just can't fit into the class, before returning to your Haagen-Dazs. Others are not so sanguine, and there have been aggressive scenes from those anticipating but deprived some sadomasochistic cycling.

Yesterday I was there the necessary fifteen minutes beforehand, to bagsy my bike with assertively placed water bottle. Despite this, I still had to satisfy myself with the dodgy one at the back by the giant speaker - all the others were already gone. Being at the back has its advantages, I consoled myself, in sheltering from The Shouter and his kind.

Yesterday was different to most days. In came a woman I had never seen before. She was coming to have 'a word' with the class, she explained.

'There have been complaints.'

Silence, but for the whirr of the bikes. (The serious keenos missing no opportunity to warm up.)

I've been away for a bit (getting concussed at netters, amongst other things) so I cowered in my corner, baffled. 

'Is there going to be fighting every week? Or was last week a one-off? Do you really think it's acceptable to reserve bikes so that others don't have the chance to get one?'

I was really starting to enjoy this now.

'For all of you who don't know me, I'm The Shouter's Wife (TSW),' she explained (I assume she works there too, but she might just be over-zealous). 'I have to come and talk to you because there have been so many difficulties with this class. So many complaints from and to management. You need to agree amongst yourself whose bikes are whose.'

By now, I felt like a seven-year-old Kate in the Countryside, sitting in front of Miss David at primary school as she explained to the yeargroup why it wasn't fair to leave Sophie out of games when she wanted to play too. But then, Sophie was a bag.

McEnroe: Banned from Spin Class
TSW was now explaining the intricacies of fair play. It was acceptable, she said, to save a bike before going to the loo - 'you need to be sensible' - but not before going for a lengthy stroll. I feared the lecture would never end. I was not the only one. 

At last: 'Are you going to behave?'

'Yes!' Shouted some errant fool, pre-emptively caught by the Spinning Room's adrenalin rush. They just love audience participation, these oldies.

'Right. We'll see if you can work things out for a month. If there's any more problems, we're going to have to … do something about it.' 

'Have a great lesson then you guys! Good to chat!'

In walked The Shouter, looking sheepish. You could almost hear the yummy mummies in the front row thinking how much nicer they were than his wife. If he'd only notice. 

Friday, 2 September 2011

Sunshine - Moonlight - Good Times

Last weekend was characterised by the triumph of English Summertime plans over vile weather. Well, almost.

On Saturday a friendly rounders tournament had been organised on Clapham Common by the (surprisingly militant) boyfriend of my Fashion Icon friend Fi.  Embarrassingly keen for any competitive sporting event, I dashed from Old Man Squash in Pimlico with my squash scalps - only to find that torrential rain had hit.
Sportsman's Diet
However, social rounders players are hardcore and absolutely not to be deterred by rain. Or only a little deterred. Fine - we hid in the pub for two hours until Fi's boyfriend had fully 'tested the ground' by practising skidding stops in orange shorts. 

As the rain died down we acquired sugary provisions to prep ourselves. Fi pimped me out to a team by making bold promises about my rounders skills that I knew I'd be unable to fulfil.

In fact, my incompetence was only intensified by my enthusiasm. The same seemed true of my very enthusiastic adoptive team. We didn't do very well.

Fearsome Opponent

When we'd been trounced by (yet another) lot - this group resplendent in tribal headgear - my rounders career seemed over. But then, another (better) team was short of a player. With the pragmatic attitude of an Andy Murray fan at Wimbledon, I forgot my loyalty in an instant, and switched sides.

I'm not sure if my charlatan behaviour was rewarded or exposed by the fact that my newly-adopted team won the whole thing. The fact that we finished the tournament at all (by this time it was dark and subterfuge rewarded) was a victory of commitment over clouds. No so my team-hopping, true. I have no excuse other than ... I do like to win at sports.

Persisting with the outdoor theme next day, I found myself in Marylebone for an al fresco feast at the house of Blondie and Mr Blondie. So bourgeois are these two that they actually have a Real Garden. No need for a fictional outdoor space there, as at our Pad.

As we arranged brunch things in said Garden, their Aussie flatmate had us pose for natural English tea party pics [including - but not limited to - Kate + Blondie pouring tea; expressions of interest as tea is poured; advanced plate reorganisation]. When the first drops of rain started to fall moments later the patriotic embarrassment was intense. 

Pressing on regardless with summer-specific fun, Mr Blondie unleashed the barbeque to set fire to some halloumi and an unlucky tea towel, while inside we gorged on spinach and small cakes. Separately.

Mr Blondie was to appear on Sky later probably to discuss Sally Bercow, on whom I suspect he has a secret, extremely well-repressed crush. He paced the room, making calls to producers and taxis and tweeting emotionally.

'What I want to know is why you never write about us in your blog?' demanded Blondie, from one side of their expansive capitalist sofa. (This is a sofa that knows nothing of DFS. It's probably padded with dead duck.) 'Way more interesting things happen when I'm around. We went to a ball once! And look at today: I made eggs with spinach in!' 

Everyone else agreed. We praised the eggs. And then we sat in our own squalor for the rest of the day.