Saturday, August 18, 2007

Plus ça change

The real trick here will be avoiding use of any of those words that attract the wrong kind of attention...

Now where was I? Oh yes, gyms. Well, one gym at a time - I'm not raving, after all - but more than one in total, if you see what I mean. So yes, gyms. Or more precisely, gym changing rooms and cultural differences thereof.

Because the people of that “island nation” that Coast was going on about? Well, they are rather on the shy side. So back in Londinium, every visit to the changing room was a complex exercise in advanced towel technique. Even the nature-loving, people-embracing, sandal-wearing patrons of the yoga place with open shower stalls would immediately wrap themselves in yards of cloth to cover the ten feet to the lockers once out of the magic circle of water. And unless they were examining the floor tiles, no one ever, ever looked below shoulder level.

So there were days when the sheer effort of managing to achieve the socially correct degree of coverage with the regulation two smallish terry rectangles while putting on a dry-clean only wool suit and insta-crease cotton shirt would all become too much. I would long to fling all coverings aside and prance about the place in my altogether, or at least not descend into hideous spasms of embarrassment if the bottom towel dropped at an awkward moment.

Of course, this means that I have turned into a prude. And here, in glorious Prahahaha, women (in keeping with my ingrained prudishness, my gym behaviour is strictly orthodox, so I know nothing about the habits of the other gender(s)) have a more, shall we say, “European” approach. Which is much more sensible, of course, but it is taking me time to get used to it. In my case it seems that personal prudishness, once acquired, is quite hard to drop, much like my bottom towel.

Unlike the hirsute, rather burly gentleman who checked in behind me the other day. When offered his allocated two towels, he loudly advised all and sundry that he only needed “the small one”.

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