The Gym

I’ve always been a member of a gym. I haven’t always gone religiously but the direct debit was there as proof to anyone that cared to listen, that I did always have the good intent to go. Of late, I’ve been a slightly more frequent attendee. Not because I’m in search of the perfect body or I have hopes of one day being a body builder, but mainly because I have the eating habits of a growing teenage boy. Something’s got to counteract it.
I joined a new ‘black label’ gym back in March. After a weekend of boozing and eating in Ireland for St Paddy’s Day I hastily signed up for a year contract to a swanky(ish) gym I can just about afford. It was the ultimate in regret hangover decisions. As such, I’ve made a vow to go at least twice a week, mainly because on those two nights of the week I can’t afford to go out because, well, because I’m paying for the gym.
Over the past few months, I’ve grown a slight irritation towards the gym, it’s attendees and pretty much everything about it. People always ask me why so I decided to write a little account of my typical gym session to prove why elements of it do my absolute nut in.

Here we are. 

Greeted with a chipper ‘enjoy your work out’ is enough to make you want to turn on your heel and run for your life. Enjoy my work out? Alright pisstaker. You locker away your shopping bags and pride and head to the gym floor.
There you are greeted with the mirrored walls.

 Let’s talk about those for a while shall we. The walls that give you no other option but to stare at the beetroot red, sweaty and fatter than you thought version of yourself. The one that, funnily enough, doesn’t run like the athlete you’d imagined, but actually like Bambi after one too many vodkas. Whilst staring at this really unfortunate version of you (because you have no other option) your focus switches from your breathing and rhythm and on to the fact that your eyebrows need doing and that you really need to buy some new gym clothes. In turn, you loose said rhythm, stumble and suffer a near heart attack from the fear that you’ll be the girl that face planted a treadmill. Strong look.

As if the mirrors aren’t bad enough on a personal level, they are also the gateway into the eyes of one of two of the following people;
1) the woman you think you look like when you exercise. The one whose hair looks great bundled on top of her head. The one who glows, not sweats. The one who does this shit for fun.
2) the type of guy you automatically fancy. The one you’d quite like to stumble across in a make up wearing, hair straightened situation. NOT NOW.
Whilst on the subject of people in the gym, You are always met with at least one of my two least favourite gym go-ers within about ten minutes of arrival.
Rocky is my number one least favourite gym buddy. You know the guy. The one that insists on working out in a grey hoody (because visible sweat marks are a right turn on lad) and punching the air when he runs. The one who is running to the infamous soundtrack in his head, but who in reality looks like an absolute mug.
Katie Price is my second favourite. The girl who wears  more make up to the gym than I probably will on my own wedding day. The make up wearing at the gym thing is something I’ll never get. It’s going one of two ways sweetheart, either you’ll be too scared to work up a sweat incase it messes up the work of art on your face, that the whole trip to the gym will be futile. Or you will work up such a sweat that you’ll walk out of here looking like a panda on a comedown. It’s face wipe time.

Once you’ve got over the cringe and prat filled cardio section of your work out, out comes the little evil voice in your head that chips in about ‘muscle burns fat don’t you know’. I hate that guy. Then you stare across at it. The Free Weights Zone. Or should I rephrase. The Man Man Muscly Man Only Zone. Five square metres of pure testosterone, grunting, clenching and cock fights. God, help me.
An area filled with so many bulging veins that it looks like an A-Z of a weird genetically modified town, an area dense with the smell of protein shakes and the overwhelming sense that everyone in said section has a  penis a lot smaller than his muscles would suggest.
You stretch, you clench and lunge away whilst worrying yourself into oblivion that your granny gym pants can be seen through your ‘seen better days’ gym leggings. You face away from the mirror and as such end up slipping a disc or something equally epic. 
You walk around. A LOT. Always so much pacing goes down in a gym. Why does everyone just wander about? Why don’t we all just join a walking club and save ourselves from 3 hours a week of awful pumping house music? You walk past the Greek goddess who’s on her 17th kilometre without a drink break and resign yourself to cramp and a bit of self pity.
You exit the gym floor convinced that the agony of your Sunday morning is over, and then you realise what’s up next. The changing room.
In to the shower you go, wondering why these things are never tiled white. White tiles would show you how many pubes and bodily fluids you are actually washing around. Dark blue tiles leave you with sense of worrying mystery and a consistent mental note to buy verruca cream.
You’ve been brought up with a sense of modesty, so drying and changing for you is done with a certain level of discretion. If only such rules applied to everyone else in Naked Wonder Town. Personally, if I have to be subjected to one more woman bend over in front of me, minus drawers, to pick up her towel I will not be held responsible for my actions. Especially when waxing seems to have been something she’s left off her to-do list since 1998. There’s the natural look, then there’s taking the piss. 
You dry off, not properly because the towels are made of paper, and get dressed. You never feel 100% walking out of there. You nine times out of ten forget one thing that makes your getting ready routine complete. Like your bra. That’s always a classic. The hairdryers aren’t as good as your own, and you spend the whole time thinking up ways you could bring the entire contents of your own bedroom and bathroom to the gym with you each day.
Granted, you walk out feeling good about yourself. The endorphins do the trick, you know it was worth the trauma and the ‘enjoy your workout’ guy is less irritating on the way out. 
Well. That’s all fine, until you have to get a slight jog on for the bus home & you pull a bloody  muscle.
Love that.
LLx

Hot Weather Advice

It’s been a scorcher this week, that’s fair to say. And for those of us living & working in the big smoke, we all know how bloody unbearable anything a degree above chilly can be. Tackling the tube makes you want to faint and being stuck in a windowless box for 8 hours of the day does bring on thoughts of self harm.

It also brings out the absolute worst in people. People are so agro when they are hot. And sadly quite a lot of the time forget to abide by standards that are so commonplace when it’s snowing.
Now, after a week of being stuck in many a smelly armpit on my commute, I thought it was time I provided some advice for those of you who forget how to behave appropriately when the sun comes out.

 Please abide by these ten rules if you wish to make it to September without feeling my wrath!

Rule 1: Girls, file your feet! No man, woman or dog wants to see a crusty big toe or heel hanging out of your gladiator sandals. MOISTURISE. If you have bunions, wear trainers – or cut your foot off. Nobody wants to see it.
Rule 2: Guys. White shirts get stained from your sweat FYI. If it’s going yellow under the arms – bin it. Nobody will ever sleep with you if you’ve got hardened yellow marks on show when you reach up to grab a file off the top shelf. Yack.
Rule 3: Drink plenty of water. Everyone will hate you if you faint and you are the reason 4,000 people are late for work because you did it just as the tube was about to pull out of Oxford Circus. Don’t be selfish.
Rule 4: Girls, the backs of your legs grow hairs too. Shave them. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean to say the rest of us can’t. Pay attention.
Rule 5: Guys, short sleeved shirts and ties is not a strong look. Just don’t do it. Ever. 
Rule 6:  Don’t stop bang outside the tube to take a ‘summertime selfie’. I will walk up your back and be really cross about it.
Rule 7: Remove all sunglasses before getting on the tube. You look like a chump. YOU ARE IN A DARK TUNNEL.
Rule 8: Take some deodorant in your bag to work. Re-apply at regular intervals. If you are unsure about the state of play under your arms, don’t be a maverick and chance an arm up on the bus or a reach over the desk at work. Check before you stretch.
Rule 9: Girls, non-leather ballet pumps will end up smelling in this weather. Smelling real bad. Don’t slip a foot out under the desk or on the bus to give them bad boys some air. If I get a downwind of Eau De Wotsit, shit’s going down.
Rule 10: At least once a week (this week it was Tuesday), I will wear a skirt to work. High chances are, the breeze down the tube will cause it to blow up on occasion. My ninja like reflexes normally prevent any knicker exposure, but if I’m slightly off my game do not be the guy that shouts ‘Alright Marylin, Wahey!’ from the top of the escalator at Green Park.
You know who you are.
You are not a comedian.
LL x
south london

The South London Dictionary

Last night I paid an impromptu visit to our local school pub. The one that was a stone’s throw up the hill from where we spent many a glorious year in an itchy green jumper and where most of us have spent at least one drunken night with a member of the IT staff?!
The place we all meet every Christmas Eve without prior arrangement, and the place you are guaranteed to run into someone you know/would rather forget.
One particular reprobate (who shall remain nameless) that we were educated alongside has taken the plunge and is going to ‘find himself’ in Thailand for a year or so and as such decided World Cup based beers in our local was a great way to send him on his way. Low and behold, out came some of the oldest faces from tutor groups of yesteryear.
In one corner, of one pub, in one part of South London, sat a group of grown up kids that hadn’t all been together for nearly ten years. Not a lot had changed. Well, there’s a few kids in the mix, a couple of serious jobs and a flat or two but on the whole we’re still the same fools.
In particular, the way we speak to each other is exactly the same it was in Mr ‘Sweaty’ Hart’s Geography classes. The old catchphrases and pisstaking comments were as free flowing as the tequila.
It got me thinking. If we were in a pub anywhere else in the country, or anywhere else in London for that matter, nobody would have a bloody clue what we were talking about. I decided it was time to educate all those unfortunate enough to not grow up in glorious South London to some of the key words and terms that make up our beautiful way of speaking.
Here it is.
The South London Dictionary
Bants
An abbreviation for the word banter. A term used to justify any harsh, offensive or mildly sexist comment.
Long
A word used to describe something you don’t particularly want to do.
‘don’t make me go to the bar, that’s long’
Proper vexed.
A term used to describe being somewhat put out by a situation.
Butterz
Adjective. Used to describe someone really unattractive.
‘good to see she’s still completely butterz’
You mug
Derogatory term that normally follows someone making an absolute tit of themselves
 “did you drunk text that girl? You mug”
Init.
General filler.
Fucking ‘ell
General filler.
We’re the red & blue army
A term used to highlight that the person supports Crystal Palace Football Club, and if you don’t, your opinion is no longer valid to him/her.
Don’t air me
A term used to highlight the fact you’d rather not be ignored.
See him off
Ask that young man to leave/hurt him.
Deep
Double meaning.
1. Something that’s quite harsh and hard to deal with ‘she aired you bruv, that’s deep’
2. Something’s pretty good. ‘you won the lottery? Deep’.
Munch
Food. Preferably fried chicken. Preferably a two piece and chips.
‘I need munch’
Licked
Highly intoxicated.
Chunder
To be violently sick. Usually after being licked.
Lad
A humorous gentleman. A fellow who courts many a female.
Bare
Plenty, many, lots of.
‘bare people in this pub’
More often used in a sarcastic context. For example the above sentence would be used upon arrival in a completely empty pub.
Dash
To pass something to someone.
“dash me the paper”
Beef
A somewhat hostile disagreement.
Safe
Thanks/Kind Regards
Sick
Something’s that’s pretty bloody good.
& last but not least. Everyone’s favourite.
Chief
An absolute idiot.
“look at that chief, going to Thailand to ‘find himself'”
LL
x

The Girl’s Guide To The World Cup

I was born the second daughter to a football nut father. The second of two girls. The second non boy to not take to Sunday 5-a-sides and to not bore to death with the story about the time he nearly trialled at Charlton. 
The lack of male offspring caused our dear old pops to teach my sister & I to have an appreciation for the beautiful game. Alongside our Take That & Spice Girls posters sat the Man United team photo, fixture lists & pull out A3’s of Gary Pallister. Yep. I was totally obsessed with Mr P. Still am truth be known.
I owned the infamous black & yellow away kit and wore the collar up like I was Cantona. My sister to this day still reads the paper back to front. We still enjoy a Jipp Japp Stam chant & hold the Sherringham years fond in our hearts. 
Over time we may not have always been interested in the match on the TV, or even United’s current league position, but we’ve learnt the rules. The rules one must abide by in the presence of a football watching man.
With a month of late nights, tears, screams and rage ahead of us, I thought it was about time my sister & I, with the help of a couple of male mates, imparted some of our wisdom. A little list for the unassuming females of the world who have significant others to deal with during this very special time. 
So here it is….
The Girl’s Guide To The World Cup.
– Don’t make plans. Any plans. Don’t assume that if he’s booked time off work it will be to spend time with you. Wrong. Also don’t think that he’ll only be interested in watching the England matches so you’ll only loose him for 3 nights of the tournament. Again, wrong. All matches. Everyday.
– When they don’t want to partake in the plans you have already made, don’t ask them what’s more important ‘Football or Me?’.  This month, nobody wants the real answer to that question. 
– Every match is vital. And not just the match. The lead up show is just as crucial and will require just as much silence and lack of distraction. He’ll use this time to get half cut on his World Cup beers.
– Never under any circumstances speak when Ian Wright is speaking. Join in abusing Adrian Chiles. 
– Don’t think it’s OK to judge a team based purely on attractiveness of players. Yes, the Italian side are a pretty bunch but come Saturday night your head needs to switch from “shag” to “kill” mode almost instantly.
– Feign slight interest. And don’t just ask dumb arse questions like,”Where’s Beckham?”. It’s painful for everyone….he’s not bringing up the time your family dog died is he? No. So don’t mention Sir Becks. Not now, not ever.
– Sit back and relish in watching him fill in his Panini sticker book. Got, got, need. 
– Don’t mock the roller coaster relationship he will have with Roy Hodgson. He will go from despising him, to worshiping the ground he walks on, to wanting to put his own dad up for adoption and take Roy on instead. Oh and before you ask, Roy Hodgson’s the manager. 
– Don’t you ever DARE say “It’s only a game”. 
– Don’t pass comment on, what may seem over exaggerated, reactions to a “beautiful pass” or ‘wonder goal’ or a nut holding tackle. They might be sitting on a sofa in Streatham, but in their heads they are in Rio. Appease them.
– Start drinking beer. Trust me. It will help.
– Begin to understand the importance of replays. Yes this might be the 8th time he’s seen this corner be taken,  but seeing it in slow motion, and from that angle will make everything So. Much. Better. 
– Take note of the fact that this is the only occasion he’ll be able to multi task. He’ll be able to watch the match, join in a twitter debate and have cheeky bet all in unison. Mind. Blown.
– Don’t pass judgement when England are 4-0 down with 12 minutes to go and he utters the infamous man line ‘Well, we never play well for 90 minutes, I fancy we’ll still do them’.
– Don’t think that because you got Cameroon in the sweepstake at work, they actually stand a chance. If you didn’t pull Brazil, Argentina, Germany or Spain, kiss your quid goodbye. And don’t constantly ask how Cameroon are doing. 
– Try & avoiding asking what the offside rule is during the match – here’s a diagram I’ve drawn for you. Learn it. 
– At last but not least – here’s this little classic. Today I asked some old mates Dean & Steven what they would most like to add to the list. This was my favourite. By far. 

‘Don’t attempt to engage us in sexual activity whilst a game is on, when Chile are playing Holland I am much more interested in the rampaging full backs than I am in a half hearted attempt at a blowjob’.
Classic boys. 
Thank god it’s only once every four years!
LL x

Blokes

courtesy of Ned Martin x
As some of you may know, since the age of 11 I’ve spent 90% of my time in groups that are 75% male. Secondary school saw me sitting in classes that were made up of 7 girls to 24 lads. College followed suit. The jobs I’ve had since leaving have all been in menswear & as such every office I’ve been in has been a complete sausage fest. I’ve holidayed with them. Partied with them. Snored with them. 
Some of my best friends are blokes and having spent so much time around them in the past 15 years has resulted in me having a very privileged insight into their world. Sense the sarcasm?
I thought it was about time I imparted some of this ‘wisdom ‘ in my fellow females. Females that have been lucky enough to have mates that they can talk about nail varnish with. Females that haven’t grown up being bantered for doing anything remotely emotional.
Here are some of the best things I’ve learnt. Some might be useful. Some not so much. 
– FIFA is important. Really important. As a girl entering the life of any male, it will do you good to ingrain this into your mentality.
– Sometimes he won’t call. He won’t call because he’s playing FIFA. And FIFA is important. Really important.
– They cannot watch TV and hold a conversation. Wait til the adverts.
– Yes, most of them do have nicknames for their nether regions. It’s fine. If you pry some of them are actually pretty bloody funny. Getting a good mate of mine really drunk one night and asking him what his was called resulted in me now knowing he refers to it as Captain Pugwash. Brilliant. 
– If they offer to pay, don’t challenge them on it. It gets them edgy and in some cases seriously wound up. Say thank you and sit back down.
– If you are just a friend, there is an 88% chance that they’ve only listened to half of what you’ve ever said to them. The other half of the time is spent checking out the girl over your shoulder/ your mate/ your cousin/. True story.
– They do sometimes have a sit down wee as a treat. Don’t ask.
– They love a cuddle. They give it all the big’un that it drives them mad in their sleep. It’s crap.
– Some of them refer to girls in terms of pints. For example; if a girl is a ‘two pinter’ she’s stunning and requires some dutch courage to approach. If she’s a ‘nine pinter’ she looks like a run over version of Janet Street Porter and he will never admit to having taken her home.
– They follow stupid rules like ‘if I meet her on a Friday night, I’m obviously not going to text her until early Sunday evening, cos well….that’s the rules’. Obviously lads. Obviously. Or another classic ‘you can’t text her every day – not until you’ve been out more than twice. Too eager’. This is the point that I put my head through the wall.
– The ones that have been brought up properly all subconsciously take the traffic side when you’re pavement bound. This isn’t necessarily a chivalry thing. They just all love the thought of a girl falling over her heels and them having to Tom Cruise it into the road.
– Farting IS hilarious. Literally the funniest thing that will happen in any given situation.
– They could spend 4 hours in the company of their oldest mate. When you ask, ‘How was John?’, they will probably respond, ‘I dunno, we just had a pint’. 
– They genuinely appreciate girls perfume. They record a scent. It’s a caveman thing.
– They LOVE calling people ‘Boss’. Pizza delivery man. Cab driver. Bar man. Everyone but their actual boss. Yes boss.
– Gym is purely another excuse to socialise. Few men will ever gym alone. And if they do, they know at least four other members. Spot me bruv.
– They love an alone pint. Just the one. On their own. Man time.
– Most of them don’t see the need for constant contact. Don’t fret if he’s not all text, text, text. He’s probably just playing FIFA or something. 
– Whining will get you nowhere. When your voice goes over a certain pitch, their ears literally just close. 
– They all near enough read the paper starting at the back. Football first. World affairs second. Man priorities. 
– On the whole, they secretly (or not so secretly) love a dance. In their heads they’re all Will Smith and love a throw down. Depending on the bloke, it takes varying amounts of booze, but you’ll get them there.
– They enjoy a girl that enjoys a beer. Just don’t pretend to be interested in football if you’re not. They hate that. If you are. Fair game. 
– They enjoy even more pretending to really fancy their mates sisters. Near the mark. But so funny.
– Yes, a girl in a football shirt is sexy. ALL THE TIME. 
– They have space in their heads for two birthdays. Their mums and their significant other. If you are neither, your birthday well wishes will either be non existent or 48 hours late.
– And most shockingly of all – They genuinely don’t have a look around when they’re at a urinal. They are all ‘eyes straight ahead’.
I know…I still can’t believe that.
LL x

What I Miss Most About Being A Kid

Aside from the general innocence, spectacular metabolism and the ability to lie in past 9am, there are so many things that I miss about being a kid. So many I felt they deserved their own post.

If you were born between 1985 and 1991, I feel like you will have been of age to appreciate the list I’ve complied. Or if like me, you are still mildly obsessed with the 90’s, then this is 100% for you.

 Here’s my top 20 things I miss most. Another list will no doubt follow shortly.

1. Snake. Not Snake 2. Just Snake. And being able to play it for 14 hours because your 3210 (which was your sisters, then yours and is now your Mum’s) had the battery life of a car.

2. Top quality literature like Point Horror and Goosebumps. Well constructed stories about murderous American teens. Even better were the editions that allowed you pick your own ending. God bless R.L Stine.

3. Rugrats. Long live Phil & Lil. And the undercover lessons it taught you about not picking on ginger kids.

4. Genuinely believing that your Yo-Yo had brains. And that your alien was really having a baby. Weird.

5. New Adventures of Superman. Having an insatiable crush on Dean Cain. (Where is he now?). Watching the boys have their first ‘weird feelings’ about Teri Hatcher. You weren’t far wrong boys….top cougar these days.

6. Going to Blockbusters to get a film. Taking forever to choose. Knowing to not even bother asking for a bag of popcorn before you got a clip round the ear and taken home to have Sainsbury’s own.

7. Being OK with your Saturday nights consisting of The Generation Game, Blind Date and the Channel 4 movie premiere of a four year old Bruce Willis blockbuster.

8. The original grey GameBoy. Playing Tetris until you developed early onset arthritis in your thumbs.

9. Boiled egg & soldiers. Being allowed to ‘kill the witch’ and cover yourself and the table in egg shells.

10. Swapsies. Swapsies on everything. Panini stickers. Marbles. Togs. The lot.

11. Woolworth’s. Pick’n’Mix. Bubblegum tape. Trying to cheat the Pick’n’Mix scales so you could cram in more foam bananas.

12. Being judged by your choice of school bag. The matrix pretty much went like this;

Mini Nike Backpack & Bootbag – Cool kid, slight attitude problem, loves detention.
Over The Body Bag Covered In Badges – Emo, loves thrash metal, will start smoking weed a lot earlier than acceptable.
Jane Norman Carrier – Bit of a slag.

13. Filling your bedroom walls with posters from Smash Hits! Yes, yes, I had a poster of Kavanagh next to my light switch.

14. Bombing round in one of these bad boys.

15. Spending an entire weekend decorating your Design & Technology folder. Asking one of the fit rude boys in your class to ‘graff’ your name in felt tip in the middle of it for you. Surrounding your new tag with pictures of Usher, So Solid Crew and a dodgy print out of the Chanel C’s….well you were doing Textiles.

16. Being double made up when your Mum finally let you spend £30 on Adidas tracksuit bottoms. Wearing them EVERYWHERE for 3 months before finally realising you looked like a tramp.

17. Live & Kicking. These legends.

18. Spending hours on PlayStation with your cousins. Getting blistered fingers from doing the running on that Olympic game. You know the one.

19. Taping songs. Sitting by your big old stereo during the Top 40 on a Sunday and perfecting ninja like moves to stop before Dr.Fox started talking. Listening to the tape for the rest of the week on your WalkMan.

20. Having parties in Mega Bowl. Getting stupidly involved in Zap Zone. Listening to the crap advice that your uncle gave you about putting chewing gum over the laser so you had a better chance of winning. Cheers Tony.

21. 6pm Channel 4, every weeknight. Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Simpsons. Hollyoaks.

22. And by last but no means least. These….

At least now I know where my trainer obsession began

LL

x