Monday, September 06, 2010


I went to the gym today and burned off at least a packet of crisps and a bottle of Pocari Sweat (the best-selling perspiration flavour sports beverage in the Orient), but perhaps not all the pineapple cakes I'd been stuffing in my gob all day, to distract myself from the heart-breaking ennui of my daily existence.

It's a strange place, the gym, or about as strange as most gyms, full of enormous men with huge arms, and tiny little ladies, determinedly running very fast on the treadmill, and also the occasional out of shape bloke who's wearing a pair of beige slacks and a polo shirt, who'll sit next to you on a bicycle and spin at 120 rpm for two minutes and then wobble off again. I suppose most gyms in England would have either enormous men, or tiny little ladies, but not both, so California Fitness is a little more ecumenical than the fitness centres of yore.

I suppose it's also good that there's various people who look very unwell, and not just to encourage my schadenfreude. People who are fit shouldn't be in a gym. That would be like going to a branch of Weight Watchers and finding everyone was really skinny.

Anyway, I'm not going to go on in great detail about how long I spent rowing away to nowhere, gradually indulging my paranoia about my shoulders being different sizes. After 40 minutes of uncomfortable exercise, I showered and then went to catch the train home.

As I tapped away at my Blackberry, explaining rudimentary arithmetic to a man thousands of miles away, I heard a voice say my name. I was pleasantly surprised to meet Smita, another of the comedians and the grateful recipient of so many of our books. I was a little worried when she said that she'd recognised me from a long way across the station, as the implication was that I was more recognisable than most people. I suppose this might be because there's very few other people in Hong Kong with a beard, rather than because I stand out because I look much more like the Elephant Man than anyone else, but I was already quite paranoid, as explained above.

We talked of this and that, of shoes and ships and sealing wax, and then I hurtled off at Tin Hau, to go home and pay my taxes and play with the kitten and then discover that for the whole journey from gym to MTR to home I'd had failed to do up my trousers properly, and my flies had been completely undone. I was mortified: only slightly rescued by having navy blue trousers and black underpants, but the possibility of insult, oh, it's so awful.

Although come to think of it, revealing that I couldn't dress myself properly is also probably some breach of protocol. What's to become of me?


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