Not a Village Person

Sometimes you let Twitter make your decisions for you – and then have to roll with the unexpected consequences.

It was late in the afternoon. Should I run or swim? I asked Twitter, and the consensus was: swim. Your weak-willed narrator was powerless to do otherwise.

First, this swim (at the Royal Commonwealth Pool) was expensive: £5.50, which felt a bit much. Then there were the deadly words that always point to a frustrating experience: ‘Changing Village.’ I can’t tell you how much I dislike changing villages. I don’t understand them. Changing rooms are functional places. In architecture, function dictates form. Changing villages are designed to make getting changed in and out of your trunks and having a shower after a swim as difficult as possible. What is wrong with separate men’s and women’s changing areas? This is the standard model that every private gym I’ve been to has adopted. Every municipal pool I’ve visited has gone for the stupid option. I’ve been to a pool in Whitby Bay where there was no way to clean chlorine off properly (the only showers were open, communal, poolside and mixed), and I’ve been to one in Kentish Town which didn’t return your 20p, so if you wanted to get a towel out but keep your things secure, it cost you each time. And while we’re on the subject, what sort of bean-counting sadist gets off on designing lockers that don’t return your 20p?

The Commonwealth, mercifully, returns your pound, but does suffer from the other downfalls of the changing village. If you want a proper shower after your swim, you have to wait for one of a very few private cubicles to come free. Then you have to find another cubicle to get dressed in. I do not understand. I just don’t. If your body image issues are so profound you can only get dressed in a plywood box, then you’re not likely to prefer swimming as your exercise of choice. If its a child safety issue, I’m sorry but many lockable doors are not an answer. It’s an awful lot of trouble and expense to spare someone the unimaginable horror of having their genitals glimpsed, and you just want to shake the person who designed the first changing village and tell them to get a grip.

The swim itself was nice, except for the crowded lane. Towards the end of the session, I got suck behind a man doing a slow breast stroke in the middle of the lane. I sped up and overtook him on one side, went into my turn – and the person behind me had for some reason, decided to overtake on the other side. I felt a cramp in my hamstring, decided to go under the whole disaster, and then the other swimmer put his hand on my bum and pushed me deeper. So, reader, I found myself upside-down (again), one leg useless, in deep water and out of breath. I do feel like I’ve spent a lot of this month in a state of humiliation and upside-downedness, but that has, at least in this case, taken my mind of the impending threat of death. I eventually surfaced with bloodshot eyes, and struck out for a final sprint back to the end by the lockers.

And the morning had gone so well: two gigs, one for Bobby Carroll’s Hungover Comedy Club at the Royal Mile Tavern (nice room, maybe a bit smaller than I thought it was, but definitely worth considering for next year) and John Conway’s Lunch. Bobby’s gig a bit tricky – full of 16-year-olds. I went on first, because I ‘do jokes’ – which I took as a brief and that’s what I gave them. Bit of a tendency – and temptation – to treat them like kids, but I ploughed on with my regular stuff and didn’t clean anything up, not that my stuff is blue anyway. Did gay stuff, which I think was important. Outreach to the community and all that. I should have a grant.

John’s gig was slightly muted, but I ploughed on, did my bit and got off while they were laughing. Two gigs on my day off – and I could still taste the toothpaste when I finished the second one.

The rest of the day spent in idle wandering, the aforementioned brush with a watery expiry and coincidentally dropping in on a show I’m compèring tomorrow. Flatmate Elise has been broadsided by a review of her show, Under Your Feet. ‘Not funny’ was the verdict of the reviewer who seemed to ignore the, er, laughter of the audience on the day. Funny, isn’t it, the arrogance of reviewers, who value their laughter more highly than that of paying punters? The reviewer also said it was like a history lesson, which is missing the mark, and made me think if only more history teachers were as charismatic as Elise. Look, her show may not be your cup of tea, but it seems odd to lambast a show that has heart, humour, and attempts to ask interesting questions. It absolutely has a place at the Fringe, Elise has put a lot of money and effort into bringing it here, and in return she asks for whatever you care to put in the bucket at the end. On the day I saw it, she got £35 from about eight people. Frankly, I’d count the cash and remember the laughs, but once spent and heard, such things seem less permanent than ink on a page (or electrons on a screen). I know I’ve harped on about reviewers in the past, but wouldn’t it be nice to have your show reviewed by someone with a bit of curiosity? Humility? Maybe, at a push, someone who actually enjoys going to the theatre?

    Everything is Purple
    5-25 August (not 14 or 21) at 22.10
    Venue 63 – The Dragonfly, West Port
    PBH free fringe



One thought on “Not a Village Person

  1. Commiserations for all your little hiccups – hope you come back home with no permanent damage to your body – I think your ego’s safe..G.P

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