Having made the return to top flight gym management in the crooked East End of London, I was instantly presented with that familiar feeling of…well…not fulfilment, not satisfaction, not excitement of the challenge ahead….more a feeling of "NOOOO, eject eject!"
Let me just run through a normal day at work in this stellar job I managed to land (and dump).
I wake up at 4:30am, and catch the night bus to work, which is loaded with the intoxicated making their ways home from a night out! I get to my bus stop and walk for 10 minutes to the gym. As I walk, freezing from the bitter cold, on each corner, a working girl hitchhikes for trade in a fur coat that must be so warm, she can get away with the miniest of mini skirts. I finally reach the gym and get out of the rough streets of the east, and into this amazing invention called "heating", as a car stops at a corner, and picks up a fur coat (with complimentary lady attached)!
It is not long before the other staff arrive. Most of the lifeguards are Eastern Europeans, and are straight out of a Working in England course. They refer to me as "Boss", because it has been drummed into them to say this. I have no problem with this however, what is good for Bruce Springsteen is good for me.
There are also two English lifeguards as well. One is in prison and is allowed out especially to do his shifts, while the other one supplements his income with armed robbery, lifeguarding as a cover to his young family (they are quite open about all this after I walked in on a conversation!). I was actually asked if I was a good driver! On top of that, my boss is a cage fighter in his own time, and comes into work with a new black eye or freshly broken nose each day. He loves his sport though, where the only rule is No Head butting allowed! As it would seem, I was the only employee relying solely on the Leisure pay packet to live!
No one can really swim at the gym's pool. Everyone swims sidestroke and survival backstroke…the strokes you swim when you have a stitch! It does seem to be a case of survival at all times whenever someone is in the water there…and it is only a matter of time before I would have to have gotten in, or thrown out a kick board, to save someone.
But by far THE MOST disconcerting thing I have witnessed, is in the basement, where there is a massive Sauna, Steam Room and Spa area. This section is only ever reserved for Male or Female sessions, never mixed. One trip down there one day alerted me to a disturbing social activity. Naked men, sitting around a table, casually eating apples whilst they discussed local politics! In a steam room? Ghaah.
Definitely a unique workplace, but perhaps not the best fit for me. And this area is to be the home of the Olympics in 2012! Well, according to the countdown clock already in place, they have 1589 days to get it together!
With my good buddies Kahu and Hardsy having joined me over here in London, what better way to inaugurate them into London than with a famous Brick Lane curry! So down we went to Brick Lane, haggling with several restaurants before coming up with the ripper deal of 35% off the bill and 2 rounds of drinks free.
As we sip on our first beer and crunch down some stale pappadams, who should pop in but the Old Bill….10-15 of them. "This restaurant is now closed….but finish your beers" we hear. So as we sip on our beers and continue to munch on pappadams (which are now serving the same purpose as popcorn at the movies), police slap handcuffs on the staff and are questioned by immigration police. How’s the serenity!
Can’t wait for the next Brick Lane curry, just have to remember to bring my camera…..and get more rounds of drinks included…mouth was getting a bit dry towards the end!
Well that’s all I have for now….back to square one…the job hunt/midday television