Monday, 22 July 2013

The Gym/Club disguise

After ten months of sitting on my arse eating chocolate and doing no more exercise than walking the ten paces between my house and the school bus, I've decided to take drastic action by joining a gym. Eek! I'm certainly no fan of the gym atmosphere: the repetitive grind of the treadmill; individuals keeping themselves to themselves and probably pretending they're somewhere else; everybody inserting exercise into their lives because it isn't there naturally. It's true, the gym is a pretty hateful place. But never fear my friends, the one I've joined is no ordinary gym! Pure Gym in Coventry is in an old nightclub building, a nightclub that entertained me for many happy hours between the ages of 16-18. My main nights there were Thursdays, and I have fond memories of staying out till three then dragging myself into sixth form the next morning to giggle my still drunk self through group readings of Shakespeare in English class. Those were the days.The building still has the layout of the club, with all the equipment pointing towards the glitter ball in the middle. I was told the other day that at night they even dim the lights. Ooooh! My way of enjoying myself is to pretend I'm back at the club, the songs they play making for easy inspiration. Yesterday I jogged to Base in the Place London by Public Domain, instantly transporting me back to the days of 'raving' around my heels and handbag. Sigh.

And in those heyday years of the 'superclub' Ikon, it came complete with podium dancers, stilt walkers and a strict dress code. It was so cool.  
But rather than focus on the depressing downward spiral trend of all things Coventry, I am instead being grateful that through the powers of reminiscing, my gym experience is more exciting.

Transformations of a building from one thing to another is a delicate and problematic business. For me it is never more delicate than when a disused church is taken up for another purpose. In Leeds I remember a big old church that was part of the Theatre department. Fine by me. And in Nottingham there's a lovely Pitcher and Piano pub in an old church building. Also fine by me. What was not fine, however, was when a new nightclub opened in Leeds in an old church building. Its name Halo struck me as a bit insulting from the off, but I'd seen nothing yet. The club had stripper-dancers dressed as Nuns, and the stained glass windows were one by one getting smashed thanks to the lairy clientele the place was attracting. Now I'm not particularly religious, but I couldn't help feeling that it was all a little disrespectful, not to mention a terrible waste of a beautiful building. Makes me mad.

Anyway, that's enough ramblings. I'm off to party at the gym!


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Partying in Croatia

I’ve just returned from the two week party, party, forget about Saudi mission and I have to say it worked a treat! This has been my biggest break from blogging since I started, and even though I missed it at times I felt that to sit and write a post would not be in keeping with the par-tey spirit. Catching up on reading blog posts yesterday I was struck by how many are about having tea and cake in rose gardens. Why is this? Don’t get me wrong, I like a nice cup of tea and a slice of Grandmas cake in the sunshine as much as the next person, it's just it isn't  my main source of fun. So I'm here to represent the beer drinking massive. 
For our two week holiday in Croatia we stayed in an apartment in Tisno town and attended two back to back music festivals Garden and Electric Elephant. I realise in hindsight that it’s a bit dumb to go to a house music festival when you don’t really like house music, but at the time of buying the tickets I was only thinking of sun, sea and escaping Saudi. So I guess you could say, in honour of all the twee bloggers out there, that the music ‘wasn’t my cup of tea.' Regardless of my exasperation at the lack of variety, excitement or words in house music however, the friendly atmosphere of the festival combined with copious amounts of alcohol enabled me to get into the party spirit and boogie. Some musical highlights included 'Love is in the Air,' 'Weak become heroes' by the Streets and Mr. Scruff's set. Electric Elephant was more funk/souly, with a fair bit of Bob Marley and peace and love. The stages were right by the sea and the music went on from around midday till the early hours. We spent our time drinking, chatting and dancing way into the night in the open air bars, sometimes even staying around to witness the sun come up. 
The coastal town of Tisno is lined with boats, bobbing gently on the crystal clear water. We often saw shoals of fish and had a lot of fun swimming-although you have to find a good jumping in spot so as not to get attacked by the sharp rocks or urchins. Taxi boats are a popular and relatively cheap way to travel, not to mention totally glamorous. The town is pretty quiet all year round until the string of five festivals begins and the (mainly) Brits arrive. This holiday was the most I've been around the British in a long time. Whilst some might say part of the reason I left England was to escape the British, I must say I enjoyed their company greatly: the humour, slang, scathingness, sarcasm and general similarities with me. We made some really great friends and had a right laugh. I won’t say there weren’t those cringey moments of seeing drunk people behaving stupidly and embarrassing our great nation, but overall the Brits were fun and well behaved. One thing about it being a festival was that I missed meeting the locals and experiencing the everyday culture properly. It seems a lot of the residents go away when the festivals begin (wouldn’t you?) But what little I did get to see I liked: the food is lovely, especially if you’re in to seafood, the people are laid back and friendly and everything is cheap. So a big thumbs up from me!



Wednesday, 3 July 2013

And the next prejudice on the list is... Homophobia!!

In the wake of London Gay Pride and the passing of the gay marriage bill in the US, I read a great blog entitled Where's the straight pride? It's not fair, by a very successful blogger Jack Monroe who basically came out to all her readers in this post. I found her heartfelt words extremely moving- it's easy to forget as a straight person all of the little (and big) things that can be more difficult for gay people. For example holding hands or kissing in public, or wondering how new friends/colleagues will react when you tell them. 
Britain and other Western countries are working to eradicate prejudice and pass laws for equal rights for gay people, most currently the right to marriage. Even though it seems to move exasperatingly slowly at times, you only have to look back in modern history to see how much things have changed and that we will inevitably get to a point where being gay is as accepted and normal as it is to be a woman, or to be black.
We did the fight against sexism. Then we did the one against racism. And now we're here. In a way we're living through a time in which history is being made. One day hopefully people will look back and say 'Wow, I can't believe it used to be like that.' And just as I am forever grateful to the suffragettes, so will future generations be to the people now who are fighting for the right for gay people to be treated the same as anyone else.

My experiences living abroad have shown me exactly how lucky I am to be from such a modern society. In Korea homosexuality was somewhat of a taboo, only acknowledged through 'homo hill'- the one small street in the city where there were a handful of gay bars. I know of at least two colleagues who hid their sexuality whilst working in Korea, worried about the negative impact it might have on their employment.
And what about Saudi Arabia? They haven't even got anywhere near equal rights for women yet, let alone for different races. And I'm pretty sure they still stone people for behaving homosexually. So give them a couple of hundred years and maybe they might catch up to where we are now.
There are still many places in the world that treat women as inferior and I know now that in this respect I took being brought up in England for granted. Then there are even more places where people are discriminated against because of the colour of their skin. But more widespread even than that, there are countless countries where to be openly gay would be to endanger your life. 
I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though we're perhaps not quite there yet, I'm proud to be a part of a nation that constantly works towards equality.