When I quit the world of full time employment (gasp of relief), I also had to quit the gym. The fancy, amazing palace of a gym near my office that made shivers go up the back of my neck every time I went in there. Weird, yes. Fabulous, hell yes.
The trade off was this. I had to start running outside several times a week, and do press ups and sit ups in the park on my way home. Over the last few months I have, amazingly, been able to pretty much stick to this routine, 3-4 times a week. And I have to say, I love it.
I always reveled in the fact that there was so much colour in the gym that I could write about – the characters were incredible, and I miss them. The freaks.
But I tell you – running outside, in the real world, is better than watching telly. And if you think people’s behaviour in the gym is peculiar, try al fresco. South East London is heaving with personalities which makes an episode of EastEnders look like Little House On The Prairie.
Catford, Lewisham, Lee and Ladywell during the day, there is an abundance of leather-faced middle-aged men sitting in parks swigging Special Brew; pram-faced teenage mums chuffing on fags, packs of teenage boys cruising the streets, and old people struggling with their shopping. It’s like taking part in an anthropological study every time you sling on your trainers.
But, it’s when this real-life TV of south East London has the nerve to attempt to interact with you which gives you the shivers – and not of the good kind. The kind that wants you to run them into the road and get them splattered by the No.47. When you go running a ‘do not disturb’ sign flashes above you. Well, it should. In the last couple of months I’ve had dudes slowing down in their cars and trying to pick me up (we’re in Lewisham, not Jamaica, mate); random people asking me for directions; mobile phone vendors trying to give me flyers (morons!); grandpas wanting to have a chat; and my current favourite which is teenagers asking me for a light. For crying out LOUD.
But you know what? I still love it. People can be unbelievably annoying but at least it’s entertainment whilst I’m pounding the streets. I tell you, it’s better than telly.