Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bum cramp

In the two and a half years I've been practicing Bikram yoga various things have happened to me at points during class; I've felt dizzy, nauseous, light-headed, experienced pins and needles IN MY FACE, and felt like time has slowed down as I'm trying to move (a bit like the wormhole sequence in Star Trek: The Motion Picture; actually, a bit like Star Trek: The Motion Picture in its entirety). Despite that, what I've never had to do is leave the room, which is basically a big no-no unless you're on the verge of spontaneously combusting.

Until today, that is (I mean leave the room, not spontaneously combusting).

Because today, at around the halfway point of class when we were practicing Locust pose, I succumbed to what I can only describe as epic bum cramp.

I knew something was up from the moment I raised my left leg into the correct position, but I thought it was just a little muscle ache and it would pass quickly. It did not, however, and I was left with a pain that felt like I'd been repeatedly punched in the left arse cheek. Now usually with a cramp the best thing to do is stretch it out. Unfortunately, though, I don't quite know how you'd stretch out your bum at the best of times, let alone when you're lying on your stomach in a room full of around 50 or so people.

Instead I did what I thought at that point in time would be the next thing: I started, um, massaging it.

In hindsight, though, what it really looked like was me lying on my front kneading my bottom like some sort of sweaty, bottom-massaging pervert. And to make matters even more unsettling, it actually wasn't doing any good. So I did the unthinkable - I stood up and walked out of class (which sounds more heroic than it actually was because have you ever tried walking with a cramping bum cheek? It's REALLY difficult). Anyway, I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do to rid myself of the cramp, so I hobbled into the men's changing rooms and walked in circles for a couple of minutes looking like I either had some weird OCD compulsion or I was practicing my Charlie Chaplin walk impersonation. Fortunately this had the dual effect of both reducing my spasming bum pain and making me miss one of my least favourite postures (erm, hurrah!).

And as if that wasn't enough of a WIN I subsequently returned to the studio and nailed the rest of the sequence *punches air*.

But that's not the end of it. Because I went back to the studio this evening for a posture clinic (which was brilliant, thanks for asking - I got to help out at one point; basically I was the Debbie McGee to my teacher's Paul Daniels), and as a result of me being rather brutally honest about my earlier ailment in reception immediately after class and subsequently across both Twitter and Facebook, it now appears that I have a new nickname. Yes, everyone appears to be taking incredible satisfaction in calling me Bum Cramp.

If it happens again I'll just lie and say it's a pulled hamstring.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chessington world of utterly terrifying adventures

A couple of weeks back Glittering Lee emailed me and asked if I wanted to go to Chessington World of Adventures with him and a few of my other favourite people. I um'd and ah'd for a couple of days because, y'know, I really should be doing some work, but then I thought bugger it, I've been working pretty consistently over the last few months (even at the weekends - outrageous!) so I figured I deserved a day off.

And so off we toddled to Chessington World of Adventures which, due to a slight miscalculation on our part was packed out with squealing children as a result of it being half term. I mean, seriously, if you're not a parent how the hell are you supposed to know this? They should put up warning signs or something. On top of that, as we entered the park and I surveyed the white-knuckle delights awaiting us I suddenly remembered that I HATE THEME PARK RIDES.

How much do I hate theme park rides, you ask? Well, put it this way: a couple of us skipped off to the log flume (or Dragon Falls as Chessington call it, as if it weren't terrifying enough already) early to get on it before a massive queue formed, and when our boat arrived I stepped in it and then straight out of it before carrying on through the exit. The boys were less than impressed, but on the plus side I did then wander back and flirt with the girl on the gate.

Having wimped out on a ride that basically little girls will merrily line up for over and over again, I obviously wasn't too interested in going on things like Rameses Revenge, Vampire, Dragon's Fury, or Kobra (seriously, what evil genius names these things?!), although I derived much pleasure from watching the boys go on them (Skip's screams on Kobra were utterly brilliant and I genuinely felt like I experienced the ride vicariously through his incessant shrieking).

By about midday the boys were really looking at me like I should man up and go on something, so I said "oh, I'll definitely go on Black Buccaneer - there's a ride like that at Thorpe Park called Mr. Monkey's Banana Ride and I used to LOVE that."

 An aside:

When I was about 18 I worked at a play scheme for kids under the age of 10 - basically a two week thing in the middle of the summer holidays where parents could dump their kids on us so they could have some time off. The final friday of the play scheme was always a trip to Thorpe Park, which the kids obviously loved and the parents obviously hated because it meant they were just days away from having to take responsibility for their offspring again. During one trip to Thorpe Park I basically made my group of kids go on Mr. Monkey's Banana Ride about 10 times by telling them it was pretty much the only ride they were all tall enough to go on.

I had a thrilling time.


Turns out that I really should've paid more attention to the fact that the name Black Buccaneer sounds just a little bit more hardcore than Mr. Monkey's Banana Ride. As the queue snaked closer and closer to the ride I could feel a slight tightening effect of the scrotum that I really should've taken more notice of. Anyway, before I knew it I was settling in to the big fake pirate ship and eyeing up potential escape routes. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to act on these thoughts as by the time I decided that, yes, I think I will stand up and get off, the bars descended.

I found the following video on youtube to give you an idea of my ordeal. And to be quite honest there's no way I could've taken a video of this because my hands were clamped to the bars and my eyes were squeezed tightly shut.

Suffice to say when the torture was finally over I staggered away as quickly as I could.

To make matters worse, I was then manhandled back to the log flume where the boys surrounded me to prevent escape and sat me in the back of the boat (there was some discussion about making me go in the middle - and at one point, terrifyingly, at the FRONT - so they could keep an eye on me, but I pleaded to be allowed to go at the back so I couldn't see the horrors awaiting me). Despite having Skip wedged so close up against my gentlemanly region - something he's threatened me with several times before - I was actually quite grateful for his presence. I literally grabbed his arms (he probably still has bruises) and buried my face against his shoulder.

Here's another video I found on youtube.

If you watch right up until the end you'll see that to add insult to injury the last thing that happens on the ride is that you get pissed on by an elephant. Charming.

Anyway, it wasn't all doom and gloom. I thoroughly enjoyed the sedate monorail that takes you on a tour of the park from above and lets you see some of the animals (honking seals, gorillas, and two thoroughly bored looking lions), and I had a brilliant time on the dodgems with Skip; we identified a sweet looking mumsy lady and just kept smashing into her relentlessly. I also had a delightful chai latte in Cafe Nero, and the ferris wheel - sorry, Peeking Heights - was lovely, even if it was a bit chilly at the top.

All in all, then, it was a brilliant day. Next time, though, I'm suggesting we go to a nice stately home or a museum where the most troubling thing I'll be faced with is having to choose between the chocolate cake or the victoria cream sponge in the cafe.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011


Jesus. Even the thought of what I'm about to type makes me feel a bit uneasy…

So. I was out on Saturday night with some yoga pals bidding a fond farewell to a couple of brilliant yogi people who are leaving our sweaty little corner of West london for, ironically, the warmer climes of Australia in the next couple of weeks. After a bit of a get together at the studio we headed over the road to a pub that I've driven past loads over the last 10 years (it was on my route to work) and always thought I should check out but never did. Turns out it's a lovely pub with a massive garden and free wi-fi (BONUS).

On the downside, it turns out it's also home to Rochelle.

I say 'home,' but she was actually a patron just as we were. At least I think she was. Anyway, Rochelle … well, Rochelle was a treat in the loosest sense of the word.

Basically, at some point soon after we rocked up this middle-aged, very drunk woman named Rochelle latched on to a member of our group and apparently, although I did not witness this, started ramming her tongue down his throat. At some point he fended her off, and came and sat next to me.

Rochelle, seemingly oblivious to the fact that none of us knew who she was, followed and sat on the other side of him.

From that moment on the evening pretty much consisted of three of us verbally sparring with Rochelle, from attempting to answer her shouty question "WHERE IS THE SCRIPT?!" to her singing loudly (she actually wasn't too bad), and listening to her rabbit on about how she was friends with the actor Rufus Sewell to how her hand had appeared in an episode of the television show Bad Girls. She also made jewellery and was due in the south of France the next day, apparently. Throughout this, the poor chap she'd orally assaulted earlier in the evening kept turning to me and whispering "erm, will you help me?"

At some point during the evening I turned to speak to someone to my right and when I looked back the aforementioned chap had somehow slipped away from Rochelle's side and was now sitting opposite me grinning. I turned to my left to see Rochelle staring at me. "WHA' DOOO YOU DO?!" she shoutily slurred at me.

I don't know why, but at some point between my ears picking up what she said and my mouth answering I decided I was going to lie massively to Rochelle. "I'm an astrophysicist," I said.

I think my reckoning was that she'd have no interest in this, but it actually led to her going off on some sort of extreme rant about astrology and God with massive flailing arm gestures. I tried to diffuse the situation by saying something about the Hadron Large Collider, but that only resulted in me thinking I might end up wearing her pint at some point. Around this time I turned to look at the lady sitting next to me and with a broad smile on her face she said "I've never seen you look so scared."

Anyway, between a few of us I think we coped admirably under difficult circumstances. Unfortunately, as the evening wound down my cohorts in Rochelle containment managed to say their goodbyes and skip off rather quickly. As I stood up to leave Rochelle looked at me, sneered, and said "ain't ya gonna give me a hug goodnight?"

"Er, no." I replied with no uncertainty.

"Why not?!" she shrieked, understandably so when turned down by a testosterone-infused slab of man-meat such as yours truly.

"I have personal boundary issues," I lied.

Alas, this did not deter Rochelle and the next thing I know she'd thrown her arms around me. The woman was like the human equivalent of a Boa Constrictor, crushing my manly frame more and more with each breath. And to make matters worse her unnaturally strong bear-hug went on for an uncomfortably long period of time. I don't know what expression Rochelle had on her face at this point because I'd turned my face the other way, pleading someone to pry her off me. Unfortunately, no one came to my aid, and the next thing I know one hand had released itself from my upper body. Was she about to release me?


With her free hand she forced my head around and planted a massive, almost hickey inducing smacker on my left cheek (facial, I hastily add). Only then, after a further 20 seconds or so of her attempting to suck my life force out through my face did the alcohol-fueled harridan let me go before vanishing into the night.

So while the pub certainly was a lovely venue, I doubt very much I'll be going back there anytime soon for fear that I might encounter Rochelle again. The mere thought sends a shiver down my spine.

And we never did find out where the script was.