Thursday, 20 July 2017

Open Plan Man

No walls, no doors but an 18-inch rubber penis; how I negotiated open plan working for the first time.
How To... Negotiate an Open Plan Office

I approached the cavernous room with trepidation.
First day. New job. Open plan.
22 years in the industry and I’d never not had a door and four walls.
This was big, open, uncharted territory.
Hugh Todd, creative director at VCCP London

As I settled down into the middle seat on the middle table in the middle of the creative department I felt an imaginary target hovering over my head; ‘Let’s see how you deal with this office, boy’.
A nearby colleague (and when I say ‘nearby’ I’m talking able-to-smell-his-Tom-Ford-aftershave nearby) passed me something, muttering "this is for you".
“Cheers, mate”, I said, bluffing my way into early open plan banter, accepting what I quickly realised was an 18-inch wobbly, rubber penis.
It was like a scene from that Dr Pepper spot, where the girlfriend walks in on her fella playfully wrestling her father, but it looks like her beau is taking her dad doggy style [below].

So, there I was, trying to make a good impression on my first day, bang in the middle of the VCCP creative floor, holding an enormous cock.
Holding one and feeling like one.
Damn you, open plan. You’d blown it for me before I even got started.
I suppose I had it coming.
22 years is a good stint to have enjoyed the secluded luxury of an office.
Shut the door. Dim the lights. Have a little kip under the desk. Maybe pop on some Brian Eno. Or whatever you like to do on your own in a room with a door closed…
All that is gone now.

But weirdly it feels ok.
I can still do most of those things in open plan - so long as those around me have an open mind. Although Brian Eno may be pushing it for some of the millennials.
Dragged, kicking and screaming, into open plan, it‘s making complete sense.
In a beat I’ve managed to meet all the creative directors at the middle table. At my last place I actually only met some at my leaving drinks. Sounds obvious, but leaning over and chatting through an idea is a million times quicker than walking down a corridor, talking to a PA, knocking on a door, exchanging pleasantries before even getting down to discussing the work.
And as you discuss your work, others chip in. Be it opinions on an end frame/voice over/a rival agency’s work/what Trump’s gone and done now. It creates debate. And awareness. Walls and doors don’t allow this.
What’s more, if I need to chat to a creative team I can spot if they’re in by just looking up from my screen. Waving and shouting - those old school methods of communicating – are actively encouraged.


I’m still experiencing a few teething problems – floating planners inadvertently thrusting their arse in your face as they talk strategy to your next-door-neighbour is not great first thing.
But that’s kind of the point. Debating strategy as close quarters in a relaxed environment is crucial to get to where we want briefs to be. There is little hierarchy or pomposity. Let’s get on with getting on. After all that’s what we’re here for right.
Open plan means we get our shit done quicker. And better.
And if you’re wondering about the phallus, it was a leaving gift for the CD who previously sat in my seat. Colin, it’s in the bottom drawer if you ever need it.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Meet the real locals

Sainsbury's have a store round the corner from me. It claims to be local. I know this because there’s a white plastic sign above the door saying ‘Local’. 
I've lived here 15 years and I suppose that’s long enough to consider myself local. But I’ve not seen this shop before...maybe I just haven't been paying attention?
I walk in and don’t recognise the staff. Maybe they have different people in today.
I say hello to the cashier and she seems friendly enough. I was wondering if she was going to talk to me about Arsenal’s chances for the title this season. Or when the roadworks at Highbury Corner are ever going to end. Or where’s my dog / wife / kids? But no local banter was forthcoming. It was strictly business. Fishcakes. £2.43 please. Shit. I haven’t got enough. “Can I pay the 14p tomorrow?” She shook her head.
But I’m local. In your ‘local’. I’ll pay you next time.
She said she had no idea who I was, or what I was going on about, or who my dog was. “Move away from the fishcakes sir”... security were called and I thought I’d better leave. Things were getting beyond fishy.
It got me thinking. And not a little irritated. Granted I was going to miss out on my fish supper. But more upsetting was the issue of what it means to be local. Proper local. Can it be reduced to a shitty sign? Whack it up alongside a logo and job’s a good ‘un. 
When you have to say you're local… you’re probably not. It's like those chocolate bars / magazines / TV shows that scream they're nutty. They're not.

If you're local you don't need to print it large on a plastic sign. Scratch beneath that bit of typography (FS Lola if you’re asking - ‘friendly and initiate') and you’ll find anything but. The staff aren't local. The food isn't local. The payment policy isn't local. The patter certainly isn't local. 

I think the sign needs a tweak to reflect the utter bollocks they are projecting. I would like it to read ‘Un-local’. And I’d like to see (all) the plastic signs around the country adapted accordingly please.  

There’s already an ‘Un-local’ Sainsbury’s at Finsbury Park and they’re planning to build another on Blackstock Road next. Which means now all of our real locals have yet another threat to their livelihood.
In the past fifteen years 10,000 family or individually owned convenience stores have disappeared in Britain as a result of expansion of supermarkets into local territory.
And it’s getting worse if the Blackstock Road is anything to go by. If it’s got me worried, imagine what my real local shopkeepers are thinking?
‘Local’ is officially defined as ‘relating or restricted to a particular area or one's neighbourhood, relating to a particular region or part, or to each of any number of these.
For me and many in the area it means more.
Local means having knowledge and an empathy with the people, the happenings, the gossip in the community. Quite often it is just taking the time to listen. And enquire about people’s lives. “Are the girls enjoying big school?” “How’s your back?” “How shit are your team?!”  
I get all this and more at no extra cost from the (non-ironically titled) ‘Arsenal Supermarket’. 

Or ‘The Turkish’ as it’s known in our house.
It’s our local. And we love it.
Or rather them, being Ali, Touran and Yucel. Not forgetting the Dad out the back. Each of them a diamond. 
Ali - big, strong, massive smile. A Turkish James Gandolfi.

The much-loved owner, with a heart of gold.  And the patience of a saint.

The NHS should be paying him for the work he does for the mental health of N5. He could be their only conversation all day.

Many a time I’ve waited to pay for the milk as he’s offered words of wisdom to a lost soul needing a chat, a hug. And 10 Lambert & Butler.  

Ali - the boss

Next up it’s Touran his little brother. A more gentle soul with a fantastic beard and a secret Man United fan. But not many people know that. He goes about his business in a quiet polite manner. And when United beat the Arse - not often in these bleak post Fergie days - we give each other a sly look. An unspoken local secret.
The Dad occasionally resurfaces when one of the lads returns home to plant trees on the farm. In their absence he takes over with minimal English but an Olympic standard of packing. How he gets cheese, eggs, bread, bacon, OJ and a bottle of lemonade into that little blue bag I’ll never know. 
Finally Yucel - the wiry cool one - rides to work every day to keep trim. 

Cheeky and charming - the ladies love him. And the lads do too - for his Encyclopaedic knowledge of Arsenal. And like all true Gooners he flips between loving and hating Wenger.

So far this season it’s all good. He’s loving it. And esp loving seeing me. The other week after Chelsea had thrashed United he didn’t say anything. Merely a smile. A shake of the head. Murmurs about a relegation battle looming. I pay and leave. If it gets any worse I’m sending the girls in.  


50 yards down the road is another of our locals. Shivas Newsagents.

Owned by Shila & Ash, who’ve been there ever since we have, seemingly open every hour of every day. Nothing is too much bother.

We’ve left our house keys with them, our dog, my 90 year old parents and the odd lost plumber. 


Kibar (pictured) and her sister Dilber are two of Highbury's smartest and gorgeous locals.

They somehow manage to run the welcoming Cinnamon Village Cafe while bringing up kids, going to college, visiting family back home in Turkey. And more. All with consummate ease.

Their cafe arrived in our lives the same week Dorothy did, back in 2012 when we won the Olympic bid and the Ashes. So they caught us on a good day. Thereafter, for a very long time, we didn't really go anywhere else on a Saturday morning. We just dragged ourselves in, got a table by the window to catch the morning sunshine and they'd patiently listen to my whining of lack of sleep. Which was as nothing compared to Rachel's (thought I'd mention this sharpish before I got corrected)

Their full Turkish breakfast is a classic hangover cure. The ginger zinger zaps colds. While the millionaire shortbread for pure indulgence. 50,000 calories of joy. Stories from the Coup in Turkey earlier this year a reminder of how they are looking after family back home. As well as their adopted family here in N5. Tesekk├╝r ederim!

Further up the road towards Finsbury Park Meet David & Sally Mayers, owners of Highbury Butchers on Blackstock Road and more great locals of Highbury.

The dog and I rock up most Saturday mornings 8am, a full three hours after David & Sally have got up to prepare this wonderfully pristine shop. We're greeted with warm smiles, weather chat and complimentary mini sausages on the counter. 

We greedily scoff them down and chat over the wonderful display counter, offering every imaginable cut of meat, the mind boggling on what we could cook tonight. David is somewhat of a local legend, not just for his shop - open since 1979 - but also having gone to school with Rod Stewart. Quite a good claim to fame.

Having sampled David’s amazing lamb burgers though I’d say surely Rod could be famous for having gone to school with David? We share news, thankfully not too much footy chat - Dave has a broader outlook on life I feel  - or perhaps he’s just going easy on me on account of how shit United currently are.

He offered me a job the other day. Wasn’t entirely sure he was being serious but it made me smile. And made me recall I did once spend a year in Sainsbury’s butchery in Oxford. I quite liked wearing the hat and chatting to the locals. Never say never…

Dave & Sally

Sonar (Cinnamon Village 2 Cafe)

Just opposite the butchers on the Blackstock Road is Sonar, owner of the Cinnamon Village 2 Cafe. He always greets me warmly, like a long lost brother. (Maybe he is?) He doesn’t look much like Jurgen Klopp or the Dad from the Rug Rats so I can’t see it. But you never know. If he starts becoming incredibly excitable and emotional we could be...

As well as running this fantastic cafe with a smile that'll melt your heart and creating some of the finest milkshakes in North London, he's also a musician and performer, playing the ‘Saz’ (Turkish guitar) on summery days in nearby Clissold Park. He's always got time to chat and listen. Such rare qualities in this world. I have mastered the former. Working hard on the latter.

Through one such exchange he told me of his new love for bees. And creating his own honey (featured foreground) He's now trying to convince me to get bees too. He's offered to help set it up in April next year. Why not? The cat has been warned.

Sean (Highbury Vintners)

I’d wager Highbury Vintners (or "Sean’s" as it's known in our house) is possibly the contender for oldest #reallocal. The large airy well stocked store of today is a far cry from when it started over 20 years ago. In those days Shaun's Dad was behind the til and was a quarter of the size, with a migraine inducing orange carpet and plastic screens. But it served a purpose and Sean has taken the legacy on. And the carpet out.

He sells an incredible range of wines (and tasty craft beers) from all over the world. Of equal import are the middle class crisps aka Tyrell's. Seriously, more addictive than crack. Kids, dogs, buggies and babies are all welcome. There's 10% off a box of 12. And a free deliver service. With Dad behind the wheel instead of the til.

Sean himself is less frequently in the shop these days, bringing up his twin daughters and enduring trips around the New and Old World to bring back flagons of the sweet tasting nectar. It’s bang opposite the church. As ever the good Lord and alcohol never far apart. I'm really hoping these guys don't suffer from the bastard unlocal. Sean (and his partner and wife and general legend Gillian) have worked long and hard to get here.

The store and staff - Tom & Ben my regulars - a jewel in our backyard. Wine tasting on a Friday is the perfect end to the week. Which moved on to Sake tasting recently. Not sure if Mr Sainsbury's can offer that. Kampai to the Vintners!

Marcello (Little Sardegna)

Appearing like a modern-day Salvador Dali, Marcello hosts this cosy Sardinian restaurant on the Blackstock Road with swagger and charm. And a belting moustache. His pumpkin parcels are legendary. At times they have reduced myself and @deeebeeeteee to silence, in awe at how the soft squash is juxtaposed with his chilli sauce. It’s ingredients remain a secret, possibly more valuable than the Colonel’s very own.

I think it’s a sign of how much you adore a place when you take people you love there. I have dined here with many of my nearest and dearest. With a great sense of pride knowing not only will the food be great, but there be Marcello there to share the love. The amour and of course, those parcels. Recently he embraced my 93 year-old mum as if she too were a local.

She started rambling on in that way only Mum’s can, describing an Italian supermarket she'd visited 60 years ago in Palermo. He remembered it. Or did a bloody good job of pretending. You can't bullshit my mum. That's her job. Last summer we ate there to celebrate not only @borris15 and @rachmon21 doing their London 10k, but also Muzza's Second Coming at Wimbledon. As we salivated over the cheese and cold meats board - up there with the pumpkin - the TV remained off. A word in his ear and it was on and the wine flowed and all was good with the world.

Smoking outside alongside the man (when he’s not cooking) is also one of life's great pleasures. Although obviously I have given up this filthy habit*. I love it that he has an official al fresco table for smokers - current and lapsed - to enjoy their nicotine hit as the blackstock road goes about its madness. Grazie mille Marcello. 

It’s completely humbling - a community of people who’s generosity of spirit seems to be unlimited, who always go beyond what is asked and who don't need a plastic sign to tell me any of this.

Don't get me wrong I like Sainsbury's and their fishcakes. But I'll happily go without them, if it means my real locals don't go out of business and the community can continue to thrive together.
Wherever you live, make sure you support your real locals. Keep going in for a chat. With your dog, your kids, your thumping hangover. Keep buying the milk and eggs. And keep the Un locals at bay.

They're not from round these parts.



Friday, 4 November 2016


October 31st - 4th November 2016

Since Monday I've tried to freshen up my lunchtime London dips.

I decided to go to pools and places I'd never normally frequent. 
It's been an eye-opening experience and thoroughly enjoyable.
I've been amazed at the diversity of pools out there and the cost.
Sometimes for as little as £4.
It's made me appreciate once again what a brilliant City this is.
And how much I love splashing around in it.

Day 1

Student Central

University of London Union, Malet St, London WC1E 7HY 

For central London where you can't move for corporate wanker pools & gyms, this place is an oasis for real swimmers. The refreshing 33m pool perfect for laps. And couldn't be more central, off Tottenham Court Road. The decor is like something from an East German spy film. However the attendants couldn't be more friendly - esp the chatty bald fella who's full of knowledge. Apparently the vast deep end - 3.40m - a result of diving boards sadly cut off a few years ago. Overlooking it all is the vewing gallery. Now enclosed by windows. Apparently jovial students would leap off into the water in the 60s. Rumoured that the Beatles had a photo shoot here too. Rok 'n roll 'n front crawl
All good. Tomorrow we head East..

Day 2

York Hall

5 Old Ford Rd, Bethnal Green, London E2 9PJ

This is a long (33m) cool water pool in deepest Bethnal Green. Very well kept with brilliantly shiny floor tiles. Lovely fresh clean water. Not a plaster or poo in sight. We timed our run spectacularly badly and were with 2 lots of school kids. However their diving techniques were to be much admired. As were the refurbished diving boards standing above the 3.6m deep end. Next door to the pool is the infamous York Hall boxing gym. We tried to sneak in and have a look but there was a live fight on, not open to the public. Maybe it's Idris Elba punching (and kicking) for Madge. Tomorrow it's lido time brrrrr.

Day 3

London Fields Lido

London Fields West Side, London E8 3EU

This is a belter. In today's sunshine - a pleasant 12C - you can see why people rave about it. In such moments swimming al fresco cannot be beaten. Best of the week by far. There's a lot of swimmers here. But because the place is massive - a whopping 50m long and very wide - there's room for all. Huge mix of people of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages. A melting pot of London life, all splashing in the sunlight that covers the entire surface of the pool. And sunlight that also pierces beneath the surface, making the air bubbles off my hands appear like trippy mercury spheres bleeding off my hand like something from a trippy pop promo. I glance down to more wonderment with the Hockney-esque reflections from the bottom of the pool momentarily taking me to LA. Am I going to make a bigger splash in 2017? This sun drenched underwater world is suddenly crashed by a massive autumnal leaf, reminding me it's Hackney and not Hockney, but I'm still having the morning of my life.

Day 4

Marshall St, Soho

15 Marshall St, Soho, London W1F 7EL

A classic with a twist. Paul Smith would approve. Just 2 mins from Oxford Circus this is slap bang central London. But it still feels secret, hidden in the labyrinthine streets off Carnaby St. Today I jumped in around 11.30am with a quiet respectful bunch. Apart from one irritant who insisted on doing fast front crawl, then slow breast stroke to mess with lane etiquette. Have a word Mr Lifeguard. As the clock ticked on it became more busy. And the pool started to fill...with testosterone. At one point there were 30 pumped (mostly bald) alpha males and not a single woman. I gently slipped into the slow lane. But like fast/slow man, this was only a minor quibble. It's a great pool. The refurbishment carried out in 1997 a huge success. Retaining wonderful period features, but with a necessary modern edge. The real story is the roof. A single graceful arc that curves over the pool, cocooning the swimmers from the world outside. The smoothness of the curve bringing much needed serenity for those alpha males. The curves continue underwater where the 1930s tiled floor stretches in parabolic style towards the deep end. Like an enormous pregnant woman has imprinted her belly on the bottom of the pool. Female inspiration as ever bringing a little calm to the world.

Day 5

Golden Lane Sport & Fitness 

Golden Lane Estate, London EC1Y 0SH

And so to Friday and the last pool of the week. This is the baby of the bunch at just 20m. Small but perfectly formed. Surrounded by floor to ceiling glass windows on three sides, giving a wonderful open aspect to the swim. On one side it's architectural brutalism with a heavy duty Barbican tower, silhouetted against the concrete sky, bringing a sense of apocalyptic doom to proceedings. However directly ahead the window gives you a peek into something altogether more positive - a dance class where a woman in a shimmering leotard is strutting her stuff, which I view in silence, every few seconds, as I come up to air. Pretty surreal. And on the 3rd side all is calm. Carefully planted trees and shrubs block out more brutalism of nearby flats, instead showcasing autumnal leaves of every imaginable colour.
It's busy. And male dominated (why is this?!) but very calm. These are different animals to Soho. A special note for the receptionist who not only had a fantastic tattoo, but lent me a lock for the changing room.
So that's it for this week at least.
It's been great.
A week long rush of endorphins.
Bit tired now.
Anyone fancy a pint?

Day 6

Fitness First, Highbury 

Spoiler alert. This ain't gonna be pretty.

Two years of corporate pool pain about to be unleashed.
But let's start with the positives. It was open today. 

And there was water in the pool. Err that's about it.

It's quite staggering how many of the basics they can't get right. 

Water: Hot. So hot it's like a bath. After 3 lengths you're sweating. Not good sweating. But a disturbing, chlorinated fug of perspiration. Yuk. 

Size: Small. Like tiny. At 18m I have to do close to 100 lengths to get anywhere near a decent workout. I'm all for a rest between lengths, but this is like being in the bath again. 

Fellow swimmers: Kids. Kids swimming lessons to be precise. I've got kids. Love 'em dearly. Best thing that's ever happened to me. And meeting Rach obv. But I pay £70 a month to swim in a private club away from the little buggers. When they're in, it leaves only two lanes. And two lanes of a postage stamp pool is two lanes of f*** all. They are also proper loud, so there is no chance for the corporate Enya soundtrack to even have a chance. (Maybe this is a positive?!)

Floor: Slippy. Like falling on your arse embarrassing but painful slippy. The sign that says - "careful slippy floor" - the ultimate proof they don't give a shit. Rather than fix the problem, just whack up a little warning and that'll cover our arse (not your's) for a legal case. You'll prob first read it laying prostrate holding your coccyx. 

And of course the coup de grace, they shut the pool without warning. No text or call. Or even a sorry sign at reception. So you only find out as you walk across the slippy floor. Ouch. 

And all of this I get for £70 a month.

Apologies for this negative review. But it's from the heart of my soggy speedos. Which as a final note, never get dried, cos the sodding swimsuit drier is out of order. Tomorrow will be better.

Day 7

Fitness First, Baker St

Ok. So I went back.
Everyone deserves another chance.
Esp after yesterday's over heated debacle.

Can it be redeemed? Or are Fitness First going to come last in the rankings?!
I approached with trepidation. And a suitcase.

I was on the way to Oxford to visit my super sister and mega mum.
I was prepared to be in more hot water for forgetting my fitness first pass.

However the woman in reception couldn't have been more charming:
"Of course sir just leave your suitcase behind reception."
Wow. All of yesterday's negativity blown away in a flash.

Fitness First how can you ever forgive me?

Baker St is suddenly light years away from Highbury. Or at least a couple of tube rides.
Cool temperature water filled to the normal level, and no kids swimming or screaming.

A moody Bond-esque sunken pool. 20m of deep blues and soft underwater lighting making me think Jacqueline Bissett is going to show up at any moment and take me to the deep end. Or at least show me where my front crawl breathing is out.
The pool is small but much like Golden Lanes perfectly formed. Great showers and huge changing rooms as I watch "Escape to the country" on the mandatory TV. I go upstairs get my case. Nothing bad has happened. I'm worried. I get to the coach stop. And wait 35 mins for a ride to Oxford and the bossum of family. Feeling massively positive about Fitness First and how we always need to give things a 2nd chance.

Day 8

Highbury Pool 

This pool is close to my heart, scene of my first swimathon for Marie Curie a couple of years ago.
It's busy - a mix of kids, teens, parents, serious swimmers, oldies and some who just want to talk to you (or themselves) in the shallow end. It has all of life here.
It wins the award for chilliest pool. So once you're in, you're swimming. No messing. Unless that bloke in the shallow end gets you. It's very wide so plenty room for all. And at 25m it's a good length.
The whole place had a makeover a few years back. The kids pool adjacent to the main pool is now thankfully bereft of the algae of piss and other substances that would cling to you as you got out. And is now often home to parents who luxuriate in the warm waters, a welcome juxtaposition to the chilly main event.
The steam and sauna rooms are also much improved. Although in a strange way I miss the old set up. One time I was in the sauna and three Polish lads came in with tins of Stella and a beat box. And had a sauna party. When the biggest one stood on the bench and started to gyrate his groin quite close to my nose I made my excuses and left. Miss those guys.

Day 9

Oasis pool, Holborn

An oasis in central London?
Well if you scrunch your eyes and ignore the 60s tower block looming over the shallow end

it could be. Throw in the palm trees and sunshine glinting off the rubbery Google building and you're getting close. However today it was just pissing down. So I got my head down.

More Noasis than Oasis. But there is beauty in everything and the droplets of rain splashing onto the warm (ish) water is a thing to behold - you'd never get that indoor.

Granted you need to be made of stern stuff to brace the outdoors on days like today.

But "tough" is my middle name. After Gregory. Which also means "man of steel".

It's a perverse 27m long. Never seen that length before. Good width and massively deep.

They supply aqualung on reception if you fancy touching the bottom. The deep end houses three massive lights which appear like shimmering underwater woks, lighting the way.

Winter is for your hard core swimmer here.

But come summer it's rammed with anything but.

Sun worshippers aplenty adorned in thongs and factor 50. And that's just the fellas.

Maybe I'll give it a go...

Day 10 

Legard Road leisure centre

Well this was a curious way to wrap up the series of pools I've been frequenting these past two weeks.
At 1.85m long it's the shortest of all the pools. I can literally touch both ends at the same time.

My Mum always said I had long legs but this is surreal. And at 0.75m deep it's a bit of a joke.

I can sit on the bottom and still have my head above the surface.

There's very few actual swimmers in today. In fact I'm on my own.

Apart from a cat that visits and licks the water. I suppose that's better than licking my nether regions. But still. There should be a policy on animals.
A table adjacent to the pool (I say pool, but it feels more like a bath tbh) is useful for my towel.

A very pretty woman (fully dressed) came in and gave me a cookie. She was pretty relaxed considering I was fully naked. I could be in there. She murmured something about hurrying up and getting the girls to ballet.
The water was very warm. And had a strange aroma. A strangely relaxing lavender aura that actually made me feel a bit too relaxed to swim at all. I'm starting to think this isn't a pool at all....

Day 10

Ironmonger Row Baths

Ok. So I was planning on taking the week off.

But after a day off yesterday and builders arriving in the house today, I think the God of swimming decided to push me back in. And what better way to return than in this incredible Grade II listed building. The cleanest water ever. And coldest. Not quite Lido level. But certainly what my father would call "bracing". Everything about this is good. It's had the makeover of all makeovers. £16m. But it's worth every bean. The pool is magnificent. 30.5m long. Another weird length. Super deep at 3.7m. A great mix of modern design while retaining many original features. Changing rooms are big. It's cheap at £4.50 and there is a good mix of swimmers. I actually spotted a man in proper old skool stringy pants. Which makes me think of dad for the second time in this post. Dating back to 1931, it was originally a public wash house. I'm told there is still a laundry facility in the building today. Nice one. I got to say many of the pools I've enjoyed are from Better Leisure Group. Well done whoever is in charge. A big watery thumbs up. And thanks to the lifeguard for taking this photo featuring me leaving the pool. I've ditched the speedos for a while... #betterleisure

Day 11

YMCA pool, Tottenham Court Road 

Ok I'm going to try and get through this without any lame gags or word play. Bear with.
So I'm welcomed at the desk by a charming young man dressed as a builder. Wtf. Maybe it's fancy dress today. "I'm not a member." "That's ok" he says "you can still hang out with all the boys." £15. Wow. I know I'm not short of dough but is this the place I want to go? It's a day pass. You can do swim, gym and play badminton. And yes. Hang out with all the boys. Go on then. The pool is lovely. Sleek dark blue tiles on the floor give an intimate moody vibe. The low roof adding to the feeling of intensity, made more surreal by the sight of the lifeguard dressed as a Red Indian. Def some kind of event going on here today. The free sauna was festive with
Xmas lights adorning the ceiling reminding me we're only 40 days away from the birth of Jesus. I was approached by a man dressed as a cowboy who told me to uncross my legs. Seriously? "It's bad for your circulation". And there's me just trying to relax. But that apart there's a nice village-y feel here. Good people. It's fun to stay Showers are great. You can get yourself clean. Upstairs a good meal. You can basically do whatever you feel...
Altogether now "Y-M-C-A"
A demain x