Exercising My Patience

It’s 6.30pm on a dismal Monday night and I’m circling the car park at the gym trying to find somewhere to park. Problem is, there is nowhere to park. Out of 250 parking bays, not a single one is free.

This is because the gym has become overrun by sanctimonious gym-goers, hellbent on toning up their blamangey bottoms after an extended period of grave overindulgence and gluttony (me included!). By March, this madness will be over. But for now, the chaos continues.

In the end, I parked in the only free parking bay left: a ‘mother and baby’ space, while glancing anxiously around, should a wild-haired earth mom appear out of the bushes to berate me. I figured nobody would be bringing their baby to the gym at this late hour. But post-Christmas, anything is possible.

I’ve always thought that the gym attracts some of stranger members of society. But January brings with it a whole new species of treadmill-pounding peculiarities.

First up, it’s the teenagers. The place is overrun with them. There they are… clogging up the running machines in their Superdry togs: chatting, flirting, giggling and typing on their iPhones – basically doing anything except actually breaking into a sweat.

A teenager on the cross-trainer next to me yesterday – all glossy hair and Sweaty Betty attire – clambered on board and started slowly moving up and down on Level 1. Level 1, for those of you who have yet to make the acquaintance with a cross-trainer, basically involves as much exertion as passing wind.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for healthy habits at a young age but seriously what are they all doing here? Shouldn’t they be swigging bottles of Kiwi-flavoured 20-20 on a park bench somewhere?! The idea of running on a cross-trainer, aged 14, wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. 

Teenagers aside, I’ve begun to develop an irrational irritation for one particular woman who is constantly hogging one of the special cross-trainers that I like to go on (there’s only two of them in the whole gym). This grey-haired, bespectacled being seems to spend half her life slowly moving up and down on it. 6.30am in the morning, she’s there. 6.30pm in the evening, she’s still there. I even went at 8pm the other night and she was STILL there.

The dotty old dear wears a knitted jumper and spends hours playing solitaire on the cross-trainer’s built-in computer screen, peddling away in an infuriatingly slow manner (Level 1, no doubt). No sane person would come to the gym simply to play solitaire – or wear a knitted jumper on a cross-trainer, for that matter.

I’ve begun to scowl at her and make a ‘harrumphing’ sound as I pass. She hasn’t registered this (too engrossed in Solitaire) but it makes me feel slightly better.

Further infuriation can be found in the swimming pool, where a whole clutch of glacially-slow swimmers seem to have descended in the mornings, feebly traversing the pool like gormless goldfish – doing breast stroke and extending their delicate necks so as not to get their hair wet (anyone who attempts to go swimming without getting their hair wet is, in my eyes, ridiculous. Sorry mum).

They are seemingly oblivious to the unwritten etiquette of the pool. ie. Don’t clog up the fast lane; don’t meander across the pool in front of those coming up behind you; and – above all – DON’T TREAT SWIMMING AT THE GYM LIKE A LEISURELY DIP IN SPAIN.

And then there’s the gross changing room habits: people who patrol up and down completely naked with absolutely no modicum of modesty whatsoever. Granted, I’m a total prude but there’s no way I’d casually wander around the changing rooms starkers.

Boys, shield your eyes now, but I once witnessed one of these nudists nonchalantly lift up one leg and insert something, ahem, intimate in an intimate place – in full view of everyone.

And only yesterday morning, there was another naked woman, one leg extended up on the counter, proudly exposing her front bottom to the world, as she feverishly dried her toes – with a hairdryer.

At the gym, it seems, there is no decorum left.

Dick Gets Nicked

Two blogs about our nutty neighbours in a month? It seems a little excessive. But when the story’s this good, I just have to share.

For those of you not in the loop, Susan and Dick, aka SuDick, are a pair of curtain-twitching, moaning retirees, who keep tabs on the movements of all other residents in our apartment block in the most busybody way imaginable.

Last month, a pair of new residents moved in and had a rather raucous party, which disturbed many other neighbours into the early hours. Inevitably, SuDick sprung into action the following morning; emails were flying around from as early as 8am to gather support for their nuisance tenants campaign.

Belligerent Bill (another curmudgeonly retiree of Post-It Note Parking fame) also waded in on the action – complaining direct to the council’s noise nuisance squad.

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Dick followed up the complaints with a strongly-worded letter, which he half-slipped under their door the following evening. Before the party-loving tenants arrived home, I managed to sneak a peak at the note itself (who’s the nosy neighbour now? I hear you cry).


Here’s a snippet:

‘I think you’d do well to start apologising to your neighbours and show more consideration in the future…’

‘I’m telling you this in your own interests… Don’t get off on the wrong foot.’

It was a little heavy-handed perhaps but nothing too serious.

That’s not what the new neighbours thought.

At approximately 4pm on Monday, a police car pulled up outside the apartment block and two police officers got out, handcuffs jangling at their hips. Entering the premises, they headed straight for SuDick’s apartment, where they invited themselves in ‘for a chat’.

A complaint of harassment had been filed against poor Dick. The new tenants, it seemed, had decided to go nuclear on him, complaining that he was intimidating them.

Sparrow-hawk Susan sent out an email to us all, recounting Dick’s police encounter. ‘Dick wouldn’t hurt a fly,’ she cried.

She added: ‘Dick’s note was not threatening; it was just convenient to construe it in that way. He simply pointed out that such behaviour had not set them off on the right foot here and suggested an apology to those kept awake might be appreciated. None has come, of course.’

Under no circumstances are we to contact the new tenants directly about noise again. I’ve got to hand it to them.

But I do feel a bit sorry for deflated Dick, now the long arm of the law has put a stop to his over-zealous neighbourhood watch.

Susan ended her email saying that the police seemed to know a lot of information about them.

‘Are our emails being hacked?’ she pondered.

Complaints, conspiracy theories and late-night confrontations… I fear it’s only a matter of time before Dick gets an ASBO – and Susan ends up in the slammer.