Naked Men In The Shower

How’s that for a title to get indexed by the search engines? Sorry to disappoint if you were looking for something less salubrious.

I went swimming this morning and when in the shower afterwards I started to muse on the reasons for the shower habits of others. There seems to be some key difference in behaviour. The reasons for them? Well, I can only speculate, which I will happily do with no scientific backing for my theories.

I have a view that being naked ain’t no big thing. However, I think that due to a lack of thought – a perennial problem as people don’t actually try to think – there is an instant assumption that nudity and exposed genitalia immediately have a sexual connotation. At times they do, but fer chrissake I am just talking about showering in a single-sex changing room. Cleaning is, or should be, the only concern in these circumstances.

To set the scene it is a pretty standard set-up of four showers in a row and two private cubicles.

Broadly speaking I have observed the following types of behaviour:

  • Get under shower, strip down and shower, rinse the swimmers/goggles etc and wash. Get out, towel off. Simples. I guess the reason that this seems the most logical thing to me is that I fall into the general cohort of Western European guys that do this. However, no eye contact and no chatting. We’re butt naked after all. No mixed-signals. Not British etc etc.
  • Straight into the private shower cubicles, shut door. Now having seen this behaviour I have tried the shower in each of these to see if I am missing out on some gloriously hot and powerful shower. Nope, they are both worse than Shower Three in the bank of four which, incidentally, is the hottest and most powerful of the six showers and the one I always try to snag. Mostly Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern folks doing this. So is it shyness and is that an upbringing thing? E.g.: are there latent hang-ups about getting your junk out in the view of others? Suppressed homophobia or fighting inner urges? I just wonder why.
  • Shower in the bank of four but don’t take your swimmers off. – Mostly Asian guys seem to do this. Does look a shade pervy when hand is thrust into front of budgie-smugglers and vigorous soaping is undertaken. This changes to comical as they work their hand around to clean their bum. Houdini would have been jealous of the contortionist goings on to achieve this.

Shower

After my pseudo-scientific observations I can conclude, unsurprisingly, that there seems to be a wide variety of male showering practises, driven primarily by cultural background. Hardly a topic for historical research into the whys and wherefores as I can’t imagine the words used when trying to put together a proposal for research that wouldn’t lead to many arched eyebrows.

A Little Bit Of Nothing

The sun is shining and I am sitting in Rick’smacaroons in Oxford having had a v agreeable lunch in the sun.  One double espresso down the hatch and a good dose of Vitamin D and the car seems to make more sense. Sure it’s a pose-mobile. However, it is beautiful to look at and sounds just awesome on the throttle. However, everytime I give it a bootful I  might as well tear up twenty-pound notes as fast as I can, what with the price of fuel and tires *sobs gently while rocking back and forth*.

A degree means giving it up though that isn’t really a major problem as I still have a bit of that so-what feeling. A car is temporary etc etc. On that note though…

Jobs:  I started drafting a list of the type of companies – not a given field of endeavour – that I’d work for and then along comes Rackspace with a role as a coach. I had the first interview in London this morning. Well close enough, Hayes in Middlesex. They seem like a cool bunch and I love the idea of helping others, plus  their view on customer support is just that of mine when I ran Only Organic. However, it is first interview and I may get knocked back at this stage, despite the dedicated prayers of the Queen’s Chaplain – thanks, I think.

In the meantime I am just going to drink in the car, as deep down I think it has to go.

Less Tease, More Confession

Do you remember that I promised to weave all the amazing people I met a few weeks ago into a side-splittingly witty  post? It was going to be my best bit of writing, yet it’s not going to happen.

To be really, really funny, in my world at least, there needs to be a slight edge of nastiness. After all, how else can you be cutting without an edge? The truth is that I really liked all the people I met, from the Bertie Wooster type though to the men of the cloth, my hosts and The Paperclip. All thoroughly decent coves (I thank you, Mr Wodehouse).

However, assiduous followers of this blog, numbering under ten at the moment, will know that pretty recently I realised a childhood dream which saw me tick off the longest standing item on my bucket list. I finally bought a Porsche 911 Carrera. Unkindly, but rather humorously, I was told that I had had a mid-life crisis and now had a Menoporsche.

I had invested the realisation of this childhood dream with extraordinary expectation. I am struggling to understand why it isn’t happening as per the script in my head.

It is extraordinarily beautiful. It is German so impeccably bolted together and is rewarding to clean and polish and then admire. On the throttle the flat-six 3.4l motor sounds awesome. It is easily one of the best handling cars I have driven, although when pressed a little it can understeer a tad with all the weight in the back. It is quick. Not fast but reasonably quick. Others may think it is fast, such as the policeman mate I took for a ride yesterday, but then he drives shitty little Vauxhall Astra’s where the 0-60 time is expressed as a “please apply in writing’ figure and to blue light them is hardly different to ordinary driving. When we nudged 110mph he was wide eyed. I told him that on the bit of road between the M40 and Bicester it does a 140mph in 4th, which earned me a raised eyebrow. At least I think it was that. For a pretty unflappable 6’3” copper, and despite the seatbelt,  he seemed to be trying to coil himself into the footwell for some inexplicable reason.

I think I have been spoiled for performance and thrills by the many motorbikes I have owned and ridden. It’s hard to impress me with a car that does 0-60mph in 6 sec when I have owned bikes that do it in half that time and do 0-100mph in second gear. 160kph for you sensible metric nations.

Gorgeous from any angle.
Gorgeous from any angle.

However, it’s not just about the power because as any fule knos: you can purchase horsepower. It is about the dismay of the entire package failing to wow me as I had expected.

And that is most unexpected.

You Tease, Shadbolt

I have had the most amazing weekend away with a cast of characters that you just couldn’t make up. They range from humble me, to a Clinical trials project director to a chaplain to Brenda who is also something important in the world of cathedrals and has a smashing red cassock through to a retired cleric that is a bigger queen than Julian Clary, with the person that Bertie Wooster would look up to for inspiration were he real and alive. All real folks and quite surreal. There was also a barrister, an optometrist, another retired cleric and a property guy. Where the hell do I start?

I have made many notes and will try to distill them into something amusing. In the meantime rest assured that it is happening. I feel as if there is more than enough material for a farce, if only I knew where on earth to start.

A small hitch is that everyone was delightful so I want to record and relate this weekend n a way that no-one is identifiable yet is sufficiently accurately described to make it interesting. Manners Dear Boy, manners.

The Centurion

So it’s my one hundredth post and I feel that I ought to go above and beyond to delight your eyes and tickle your neurons.  Am not sure if length compensates for quality, but here goes nothing…

This post will look back over the last year or so and may even cast an eye to the future. Mostly though it’s going to be a fun if slightly rambling ticklist of what has happened and what I have learned, about myself and others.

Let’s start with the big stuff then. On Boxing Day 2011 we took the very difficult decision to get divorced after fourteen years of marriage. Having eloped and gotten married three weeks after meeting I figured we had done pretty well considering. Our biggest surprise was at how shocked others were.   The one ginourmous issue was our daughter and making it ok for her. As we weren’t fighting terribly it wasn’t the down tools and storm out with loads of screaming and shouting scenario so we tried very hard to go about it like grown-ups and included H in almost all of the discussions and very patiently and carefully explained it all to her, because we felt it was much better to be open, honest and to be seen to be acting cooperatively rather than adversarially. So far she appears contented with the fact that we are happier not being married, which is better for her as well. I like the fact we do the odd meal and movie together as a family.

As an aside; I am baffled at how others could even consider using their kids as a weapon to wield against the other person. That is just inexcusable selfishness.  Despite our differences I know that L is a great Mum and is a thoroughly decent person. H knows we both love her, we live close to one another and she is always welcome at whatever house she chooses. She is approaching teenagedom so it’ll get more interesting I am sure. I was a ghastly know-it-all. Gulp.

Until the decision to divorce I had been a stay at home dad for the previous four years so essential to effect the divorce was for me to go back to work. It took a a few months but I landed a decent job as a – get this for a mouthful – Global Strategic Account Manager in the publishing industry. This started in June ’12. It was hard fought for but I won it and was given a decent salary. Result. Oh, and by the way, I was a publishing industry outsider which was the alleged reason why I was hired. Fresh eyes, new approach, we need to turn around a decline etc etc… Ha.

Paddy Wagon
Look Ma, no gears!

Having have had v. mild MS for the last 20 odd years I am fortunate enough to still be very physically able and am still a bit gullible when silly challenges are suggested. I agreed, with a mate, to enter a 24h, 240 mile (386km for you metric folks) cycle ride from London to Brussels. After all, who wouldn’t see this as a way of raising money for the local MS research team? Oh yeah, we decided to do it on single speed, fixed gear bicycles ‘cos who doesn’t like to up their game by making it a little harder? Uphill? Cowboy up cupcake and pedal harder. Downhill? Relax Grasshopper and spin.

Climbing took a back seat, as did other stuff and I upped my swimming for the cardiovascular benefits, got a proper bike fit and started entering events and training hard. I recall May 27th 2012 being a quite lovely morning. I woke early and as I had an hour or two before the day started proper I went for a ride to make this my first 200 mile week on my fixie. Wham, threw away banana skin (stop laughing) and unsettled myself so much I hit the floor. Hard enough to crush my helmet, shatter my right collarbone and snap my right femur just below the head. I have covered this before but 3 ambulances and 6h of surgery later I was not a well chappie.

Tecfidera Product Shot
Tecfidera (BG-12)

My other big MS news is to do with drugs. I have been on a two-year trial and am one year into the follow-up of an oral MS drug. It turns out that it is the hot new thing and had just been approved in the US (approval by the FDA is the big hurdle in drug development). Catchy name as well. Tecfidera just rolls off the tongue. Still, it’s better than Dimethyl Fumerate I suppose. Additionally, it beats the bejesus out of injecting daily. That was no fun carrying around all the paraphernalia.

Me and my beloved daughter

I got out of hospital after just a week (sheer bloody-mindedness is a powerful thing and being in hospital is really crap) and pushed very hard to start my great new job as it was all part of the “gain economic independence so we could get divorced” masterplan. I was v scared that it would all end in disaster but I didn’t really appreciate just how badly I had banged myself up. Life loves it’s little curve balls though and disaster duly struck! I lost the job after only 2.5 months. Pushed or made redundant? All I can remember is that it was a combination of circumstances, but I certainly didn’t help myself by being very drugged, to the point where I had started to perceive my perma-stoned state as normality. BEWARE long-term opiates. It is v insidious the way in which your reality is altered, firstly with big hits of pharmaceutical grade heroin – much needed roadside and post-operative relief – and then I was tapered onto seemingly harmless Co-codamol tabs. They worked magnificently well as pain control but whilst taking them I was a sleepwalker in my own life and it took quite a while for the after-effects to go. Knowing what I know now I’d go for the pain every time. On the bright side I made some interesting new friends.

2012-10-02 13.18.28
The Spitfire – loads of gears.

Another bike was required but with gears and somehow I came to own a Spin Spitfire, which is c 7.5 kg of titanium awesomeness.  A minor hitch is that after the big injuries have abated a bit the smaller niggly stuff is here. My right ankle is still so messed up and I can’t ride this thing of beauty. Still, with the shit winter we have had it is a blessing in disguise. If it had a bell it would sound like “Bllliiiinnnggggg Bllliiiinnnggggg” !

Freshly unemployed I was really feeling at a loss but also felt like I was at a significant juncture in my life, and shouldn’t waste it. On my bucket list has been to earn a degree. Not really to do something with, as that’s a bit late now, but just to do one. I know I am bright but it would be putting my money where my mouth is. Long story short I have been offered a place to read history at Ruskin  College in Oxford. I have been told that saying “Oxford” is tantamount to “passing off” and it isn’t part of the university proper, although  I’m not that bothered as it is better than going to an ex-poly. It is sort of kind of as there are interrelationships with some parts of “proper Oxford”. Most importantly is that I know I should do it and, short of being offered an awesome job (that is one that is better than just being well remunerated but is actually interesting, with interesting people), I shall.

A history degree from Ruskin. How cool is that? I don’t care if it is from one of the newest colleges. Besides, as an Oxford student an entire years swimming at the groovy Rosenblatt Pool is just £80. That alone is a great incentive.

pool
A great place to unwind.
2013-03-23 15.29.32
Thing of beauty.

The other bucket-list item I ticked off was getting a 911. It is not as whimsical as it sounds as it has been the only car that has captured my attention ever since I was a kid and, without being too melodramatic, I reckon the MS will get me at some point so before I toddle off to Switzerland I need to know I have had one, once. So I decided to get a decent one that had been well loved and wasn’t going to do its brains in depreciation. It costs less to insure than the massive estate car (station wagon for you dang foreigners) I was driving around in. It requires a steady diet of premium petrol (that’s gas for you dang…) and tyres so I expect to be buying shares in the oil & rubber companies to mitigate the expense.

Who knows what the future holds. I have a good feeling though as I think all sorts of previously unforeseen avenues will show themselves. I am grateful to be here and happy and surprised at the way things seem to be turning out for the better. However, before I get too contented I must never forget that life is a cruel mistress and is probably just waiting for the right moment to bugger things up again.

If there is a lesson then it is only for me, as it smacks of a kind of arrogance to start telling others what to do just because that’s what worked for you. However, it seems to be the formula for many a lucrative line in self-help books so perhaps I am missing out.

My only advice would be the following; Illegitimi non Carborundum which translates as Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down.