Sunday, 3 May 2009

People Watching

Great fun, innit? Watching other people fair passes the time of day. It’s something all of us are guilty of, without exception, and it’s something that I would argue is vital for those of us who write. How else are we to populate our writing? So if you catch me watching you, it’s not that I’m a nosey basturt. Honest.
I find the gym a great place to do this. As a writer, it’s the contrasting facets of someone’s personality that interests me. We are all much, much more than the persona we present to the world and at the gym I often get a glimpse of another side to people. I get characters for my stories/ poems and a workout at the same time. Bonus.

...he was mid to late fifties. He had hairy shoulders, carried a paunch and the broadest part of his long legs was his knees. He was on a stationary bike, eyes fixed on the telly wearing a “somebody gonnae just shoot me” expression. He looked liked an ordinary bloke, at the edge of a mid-life crisis and completely out of his comfort zone. However. In the changing rooms, showered and dressed in expensive clothes and filling his pockets with two phones, a thick wallet and a set of car keys with a premium badge he looked as if he could step in front of the Dragons in the Den and blow their Hugo Boss socks off.

...the big girl on the treadmill. In her mid-twenties, she ran as if she had dodgy hips and couldn’t bend at the knees. She was carrying enough weight that her boobs nudged her chins with every step and it looked like Russell Grant was wrapped round her hips. One word for traditionally built ladies tempted to wear crop tops. NOOOOOOOO. It’s on a par with men wearing lycra shorts. If you saw this young lady out on the street you could be forgiven for thinking not only did she eat all the pies, but she ate all the sausage rolls as well. However. In the gym, she worked her roly-poly ass off. She must have been running on that treadmill without a rest for at least 50 minutes. An example of sheer stamina that some of the “muscle” working out in front of the mirrors couldn’t replicate. Respect.

...talking about “muscle” there was a guy who could be a front-runner in the Weirdest Hair Style of the Year award. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, it says in the good book and as someone who has issues in this arena I feel I am suitably qualified, nay obliged, to comment. Anyway this guy had a handsome face, and the physique of an athlete. Women in a night club would be stabbing each other with their stiletto heels to get at him. However. Once close enough they would take one look at his barnet and shuffle off to the nearest bar, thinking maybe after another six vodkas and red bull.... How could I describe his hair? It looked like someone had taken an orange “See You Jimmy” wig as immortalised by Russ Abbott in the eighties and then given it a Tintin makeover. If I was him I’d be on my knees praying for the early onset of male pattern baldness. Or he could simply save himself the time and years of rejection by taking a razor to it now, this afternoon.

I’m going into town with my son later on this afternoon. Wonder what I’ll see then. People be warned something you say or do may be taken down and used in a piece of fiction.


  1. See you, there's you giving me another reason to hit the gym in the morning. Maybe this one will actually get me there...

  2. Michael, you've just reconfirmed why I don't like the idea of going to a gym! Give me dancing, swimming or walking any day, preferably without the 'people-watcher'... Seriously, though, that's what writers do, isn't it, watch and listen.

  3. So Ros, you don't people watch while you're out dancing, swimming or walking?