4/14/2004
 
Old Street has edgy and slightly confusing posters advertising trendy magazines. Instead of graffiti it has anti-Nestle propaganda scribbled hurriedly on phone box doors. Well-dressed myrmidons of the daily toil sip at free crushed-ice drinks; merrily handed out by a man in a cap with thick bushy eyebrows from the local café. Although I’m not really one of the Suits, I have to admit it’s much easier to fake it here.

The new office is large and clean and light. The water cooler has just arrived. When it’s set up I will stand at the windows with a paper cup full and look absently at the traffic.

The gym is going to take a bit of getting used to though. While the pool in Hendon, as I’ve said many times before, was populated with middle aged housewives on a fitness kick, idly winding their way down any number of lanes, the new gym has two lanes: fast, and faster. Yesterday I found myself in the quickest moving freestyle chain of my life. I was second in a row of four and after the 15th length my shoulders began to complain about the long weekend, and how they’d never had to swim like this before, but, sensing the other swimmers were looking for a weakness in the new boy, I ignored the acidic burn in my arms and the groan of my heart, and pushed on.

Today I had a duel with a young woman who kept pace with me stroke for stroke. We reached the opposite end of the pool at the same time, her - smoothly duck-diving, me - gasping for air in the few seconds she was safely under water.
The water in this new pool is cloudy. I think it might be salt water. It’s a trendy gym like that. As I was lying, half-comatose in the lukewarm Jacuzzi, I watched through the glass as several people fled out of the main gym area. Still more ran by - I was half expecting to see smoke or riot police - until I realised they were on a running track. Inside the gymnasium. Around the bench presses and rowing machines. Weird.

And then there are the changing rooms full of naked neo-Yuppies. It’s like being at an all-you-can eat buffet and not having any serving cutlery.



Some of them there “Yuppies” I were talkin' 'bout...
 

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