Yesterday I cancelled my gym membership, with tears in my eyes. I seem to do everything these days with tears in my eyes; I’m a big cry-baby. Back to the gym. Could it really have been more than five years since I took a tour of the facilities? Since I stood aghast at the sight of the communal showers? You mean there’s no privacy? I asked, feeling certain that the young man was in fact hiding proper shower cubicles from me. (After moving to new premises, slightly segregated showers were built, but with no curtain or door to hide behind.) Back in Asia, not only were there private showers that allowed the utmost discretion and cellulite cover-up, but there were even changing cubicles in case, God forbid, someone saw one’s knickers. But no, not here.
I still haven’t got used to the way Norwegian women walk around stark naked amongst strangers they have just shared a Body Pump class with but never a smile. They may not say hello to you but many of them are perfectly happy to bend over to dry between their toes, pushing their rear ends in your face, showing off the squidgy tan mark they’ve acquired on the sun- bed, and more besides. (I’ve assumed this is what that white bit is.) I’m being harsh. Of course, after five years some people say hello. And then you have to be sure to keep your chin up and not let your gaze drift south; I don’t want to know if someone has real breasts or fake, waxed or not. OK maybe I do, but I don’t need the fleshy, visual evidence, thank you very much.
So you may have gathered, that I mostly shower at home when I do a gym class. When I don’t, I’m very discreet with a towel. Not that anyone looking at me, you understand. No one would be that intrusive. The girl at the reception, getting me to sign the cancellation form, wasn't intrusive either. If she noticed my tears she didn't let on. Actually, I really don't think she'd have noticed if I had an monkey sitting on my head, and for once, I thought this a good thing.