Extra! extra! Read all about it! Today’s Notes from the Field doesn’t follow our usual format. Written not by a diplo-mat/spouse/mate etc, it’s by a financier currently on secondement to his London office. Blazing his own trail, he eschewed the traditional format about where to go and what to serve for dinner, as he informs me he’s not in the habit of serving dinner to himself, let alone to guests – that’s what restaurants are for (and luckily, London has plenty). He’s currently one of the city’s most eligible bachelors, and he offers these three vignettes into his life in London.
Stage Two Hypertension: In order to gain access to the gym at the office, you first need to pass a health screening. It seems odd to me that they would reject anyone, especially those who are supposedly trying to get in shape. They do, nevertheless, require one to pass a physical before gaining admittance.
So, on my first week at the office, I went down to the gym and scheduled (pronounced “sheduled”) my screening, at which the trainer takes your measurements and vitals. According to the trainer’s medical devices, I have an abnormally low heartbeat but dangerously high systolic pressure (the blood pressure when the heart is contracting). Because my systolic pressure was off the chart – 168 – the trainer indicated that I would not be able to use the gym facilities and that I should soon make an appointment with a doctor as I was well within the range of stage two hypertension.
I, of course, told the trainer that the equipment was broken and (politely) demanded that she conduct the test again. The second reading, however, was worse – 172. Could I really be on the verge of a heart attack? Thankfully, after much deliberations, the manager took the readings manually and it turns out that I’m quite healthy and should be allowed into the gym immediately. British healthcare.
Gym kits: Much like your grade-school days, all exercisers wear “gym kits” while using the facilities. The kit – which I learned is British for uniform – is supplied by the gym: standard gray t-shirt, tube socks and blue shorts. Sounds great, right? You don’t have to bring your own gym clothes to work and don’t have to bother about doing the associated laundry.
The Brits, however, are a less modest bunch than Americans and the blue shorts noted above are actually really short. Some of you would call them “hot pants” but a more appropriate description is a mix of those Umbros that were popular in the early 1990s and those tight shorts baseball coaches wore in the 1970s. Regardless how funny you look in them, everyone sports “the kit”. I have reluctantly embraced it – mainly because doing my own laundry is a challenge with a two-in-one washer/dryer combo (A COMBO!) – but seeing some of your colleagues – bare legs and all – is awkward.
The lads: Within my first week of arriving, I luckily became acquainted with a group of 25-26 year old Irish guys and gals. “The lads” as they call themselves are kinda like a post-university fraternity of sorts and by “kinda” I mean that they still celebrate as if they were still at “uni.” The group is good fun and our first night out was a success on several fronts: I experienced a pub, a disco pub and club all in the same night/morning. And while this was all new to me, “the lads,” for their part, learned how to Bear Fight and leg guitar so it’s been a mix of cultural exchanges. (Several similar evenings have since ensued.)
Now off for some crumpets!