Monday, February 02, 2009

An incident in a public shower

OK, I think I’ve just about recovered from the death of Bearders. Man, that was a Black Swan and no mistake.

Over on Thought Experiments Susan B told us off and heaped on our heads terrible platitudes (Geoffrey Hill would not have approved):

“Everyone dies, everyone. Why this sense of shock? We are all going into that great goodnight and the only lesson to take from it is that you need to enjoy your life NOW” she proclaimed, eyes a-rolling and fingers no doubt a-wagging.

Talk about missing the point. Of course, from the perspective of the projected life-story of Bill Frindall, that it would at some time or another end in his death was highly predictable.

But for us ordinary citizens, going about our business and just trying to make it through January, the sudden bombshell that we now live in a Bearders-free world was a devastating and unexpected blow. It's the punches you don't see coming that knock you out. Unknown unknowns: they’re all the rage, they're everywhere. Rumsfeld was right all along. Who, for example, would have thought that “Now For Change” would end up being the slogan of the Conservative Party?

It’s been a strange old January. Take the other week. An incident occurred to me in a public shower which could have been very embarrassing.

In the event I resolved not to let it embarrass me and survived it by being in a determined mood – that is, ‘determined’ in the philosophical sense of causal determinism, not in the everyday sense of having one’s mind set on something.

It happened at the gym. Naturally, after spending empty energy on meaningless exercise, I like to take a shower. But when I got to the changing room I found an awkward queue of cross-looking betowelled men and a sign indicating that: (1) only one of the showers was functional; and (2) an alternative was available in the form of the poolside disabled facilities.

So rather than add my person to the awkward queue, I dripsweatily gathered my belongings and headed out to the front desk. Here the receptionist explained that the poolside disabled facilities were also out of action, but that if I went back into the gym I could use the disabled toilet/shower there.

Back I moistly plodded, knocked a warning on the disabled toilet door, turned the handle and went in. Well, this is a stroke of luck, I thought. A big, roomy cubicle, blistering hot water and all to myself. Off went the kit, on went the shower and soon I was working up a good lather and singing away lustily; I believe it was a medley of Jam songs (Strange Town, Town Called Malice, The Bitterest Pill) followed by a daring encore of Bowie’s Starman.

I’d just got to the second verse (I had to phone someone so I picked on you hoo hoo, Hey that’s far out, so you heard him too hoo hoo) when the steamy air was ripped by an intolerably loud and shrill siren-sound. I leapt from the scalding wall of water and grabbed my towel. Outside, the pounding feet of panicked fitness staff, then bangs on the locked door. I opened it a crack to face a gaggle of them looking back at me, all flustered and accusatory.

Out of the confusion it emerged that the fire alarm in the disabled shower was highly sensitive to steam (brilliant design that, really well thought-out) and that my lengthy ablutions had triggered it. Not only that, but the whole fitness centre was rapidly emptying and none of the staff present knew how to switch the alarm off.

“I see,” I said. “Well you could have warned me.” And with that I closed and locked the door, calmly dried and dressed, then walked out and into the car park, looking neither left nor right. I felt like Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men when he stalks nonchalantly through the chaos of the pharmacy, having ignited the decoy carbomb.

As I drove away the alarm was still shrieking at a hideous volume, the staff were still running around aimlessly and people were still evacuating in rage or amusement as their character determined.

I chuckled like a naughty schoolboy who’s just got away with the big one. Maybe Susan was right: the only lesson to take from it is that you need to enjoy your life NOW.

In platitudo veritas.


Anonymous said...

Most amusing incident, one to be proud of like the time i walked out of a Psychology exam and right through a fire door, thus setting off the alarm.

Susan is great. She's everyone's bossy know-it-all older sister, who gets incredibly angry if anyone disagrees with her, but also likes to flash her tits.

Brit said...

LOL. I love that she managed to get an interview with Updike and then used it as a chance to tick him off for white middle class misogyny.

Anonymous said...

We are all going into that great goodnight and the only lesson to take from it is that you need to enjoy your life NOW...Make love to your spouses or significant others, hug your children, laugh with your friends.

Was that a multiple choice question? Do you think she would say it's ok if I just laughed with my children, hugged my spouse and made love to my friends? I mean, if we are all going through that great goodnight, what the hell?

Brit said...

Heh, but let's not tease too much. Our little blogosphere would be a duller place without Ms B.

Anonymous said...

Right, for the record I think she is great and often plays a crucial role on Bryan's blog in slapping you Brits back to reality when you get locked into downward (upward?) spirals of pathological drollness and irony. I particlarly admire her knack for saying that is precisely why she loves you all and then knocking sense back into you. Mom was very similar.

malty said...

When she said she was taking up teaching I had this picture in my mind, in black and white, of Susan standing in front of a blackboard, Glenn Ford like, whip in one hand, chair in the other, Bill Haley's music blaring in the background.
Some young punk in a Tony Curtis haircut tries it on and she removes his ear with the whip.

For Brit, who was minus 28 or 18 when Buddy Holly was born, TC haircuts looked like a ducks arse.
Embarrassing places, showers Brit, best avoided, had a cousin who was arrested once but that's a story for another day.