I have reached the age at which any outfit I put together for the gym makes me look like Billy Casper from ‘Kes’. I usually try and sneak out of the house, but Maude always appears before I manage to and remarks that I need a new top, or a new pair of shorts or a new pair of trainers. A complete new outfit for the gym, basically.
‘Why don’t you ask Byron where he gets his stuff?’
Byron is the man who runs the gym. Byron is superfit. He has a gruelling schedule of leading spinning classes and boxerfit sessions, alongside pacesetting for the gym’s running club. In between these commitments he wanders around the gym and lifts weights. He seems always to arrive at a weight machine straight after me and ostentatiously takes the weight peg out to lower it to somewhere around double the burden I was straining to lift. His routine would reduce the average marine to tears and he doesn’t ever appear to break a sweat.
Byron also looks ‘gym smart’. He wears vivid gym colours and his trainers are always freshly whitened. I pointed out to Maude that it was his business to look smart – as he owns the gym. His fancy gym wear is the equivalent of a businessman’s three-piece suit and facilitates his blokey welcomes to the male members and his outrageously flirtatious manner with the female gym-goers (making the point here that his flirting was indiscriminate and should not be mistaken for any form of genuine partiality).
Maude went quiet for a few minutes when I made this point. I had, however, made the mistake of following this line of argument while still in my own 'workwear’. As I bent to put a fresh cup of tea on Maude’s remote control table, I noticed that her eyes were scanning my outfit.
‘So, scuffed shoes, jeans and an open-necked shirt are de rigeuer in your office are they? Must make all those penniless artists feel a lot better about their lives. Why don’t I track down some fingerless gloves for you – to complete the look.’