I am a woman of modest tastes but even so, I am AMAZED at just how much fun you can have for a pound sometimes. I’ve been on a bit of a winning streak regarding bargain purchases of late, but nevertheless, today I exceeded even my own expectations with how the day unfolded.
In case you have not been following my musings as avidly as you might, recent pleasure inducing pound purchases have included:
- Poundland sparkly, bat, deely-boppers – absolute bargain, and fun at the time, but ultimately the joy they brought was short lived. Honestly, once the initial novelty had worn off, they lost some of their appeal after just a couple of days. I wore them on two consecutive occasions – Halloween (a hit), then at the Dovedale Dash (wavering enthusiasm), and today when I looked at them tossed aside on the floor of the hallway, it was like happening upon a forgotten half drunk cup of tea that’s gone cold. You could have a gulp, but you just know it wont be the same, and whatever ‘might have been’ in the moment, that moment has passed.
- Last night, for the modest outlay of just one pound, I bought an ENORMOUS bar of chocolate. It was a Cadbury dairy milk daim bar to be specific, and I scoffed the lot. It was sort of lovely at the time, but I did start feeling a bit queasy half way in and then felt horrible afterwards. Not unmitigated joy therefore. I was going to photograph the crumpled up wrapper to add interest to this blog post, but I couldn’t face rummaging through the kitchen bin, still, I’m guessing you’ve binge eaten a chocolate bar yourself at some point, so you can probably imagine
So today, was particularly brilliant, because it reminded me what else you can get for a pound that maintains the pleasure momentum and apparently does not diminish with familiarity either. I give you (drum roll), the
3. Women’s community exercise class in Heeley
We didn’t have a session last week, it being half term, so I was pleased to get back into it today. Today was pretty tickety-boo from the outset to be honest. The most amazing bright autumn sunshine lighting up the trees which have the sort of wonderful display of colours that makes you rejoice at being alive and want to skip through fallen leaves kicking them with scuffed shoes and scooping them up in your arms and throwing them above you with gay abandon, like a child in a fairy tale. I’d have a stab of doing this in real life, but I’m too worried about scooping up dog poo and syringes along with the leaf litter to be honest, rather than being put off by the embarrassing possibility of being caught in the act of doing so, but you get the idea.
I left the house and pleasingly my car was neither blocked in, nor had the bonnet been used as an ash tray with stumped out fag ends scattered across the top which was the scene that greeted me when I left my flat yesterday morning. Instead, the guy who maintains (very well) the communal areas of the house and gardens where my flat is, crossed the car park to come and speak to me. He was all lit up, like he’d seen – hmm, well, I don’t know really, but something pretty amazing that he felt compelled to relate. Apparently, he was coming through Walkley, Sheffield, when he saw the bin vehicles doing their weekly roadside collections. He then became aware of this extraordinary singing voice, rich, deep, mature evocative – giving a world class rendition of ‘what a wonderful world’. The guy telling me this story was almost overcome, he’s a nice guy, but definitely more a ‘bloke’ than an obvious seeker out of other people’s inner poetry. He said he doesn’t normally take much interest in music, but he just couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The singer turned out to be a youngish (maybe 18-20 year old) white guy, who was singing away whilst emptying the wheelie bins. His mates were apparently oblivious to this talent that moved amongst them! ‘I don’t know why I’m telling you, I just wanted to share it with someone, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end!’ It really was like he’d seen a vision, he wondered off in an apparent daze, still shaking his head in disbelief. I wish I’d heard it too. I don’t think it’s the same bin men that cover our patch, so I might have to start stalking Walkley in search of him for myself. It was a great start to the day, hearing about this awesome singer, greeting this glorious autumn day with a blast from his lungs that had this guy at least filled with wonder.
I was smiling therefore as I headed off in my little car, phutting it’s way to Heeley institute. I love this session, it’s hilarious beyond your wildest imaginings. This coming together of a motley crew of women at the appointed hour. In our medley of body shapes, life experiences and fitness expectations. And, the clincher is it’s just a pound a shot, it being a community health initiative of some sort, and an absolute bargain.
The week off for half term had taken its toll on our collective co-ordination, but not on the positivity and enthusiasm of our instructor. She is terrific, and one day, I’d like to record her commentary on the class in full . It is the fitness class equivalent of those famous nursery school teacher monologues that Joyce Grenfell did ‘back in the day’. So today it was something like this:
Hello everyone, I’m not with it at all today me. What are we doing? Are you the same? Isn’t it hot? I’m not complaining mind, lovely. Who’d have thought it. November! Phew, right, music, yes, that’s it, oooh, Brown Sugar, nice. One two, one two. How lovely was the weather yesterday? Gorgeous, I was in the garden, sunbathing… (Pause.) … not in my bikini though. Ooh, she’s opening the door at the back now, so don’t bang into it will you? Grape vine, to easy walk, super, well done, perfect! Can we do the arms as well now? It’s supposed to be a diamond. Can you tell? This is the slower pace, we are going to do it faster (pulls a face) it’ll be fine.. here we go! Well done! Brilliant! Super! Ooh, did you two crash? Oh dear, I think I’m going to have to separate you. Is everyone nice and warm now? You should be. I am, phwaw, really warm. Are you OK in your cardigan? Are you sure? It is warm now? Ok to carry on, does anyone need a drink, right that’s the first part done, crack on…
and so it continues. There is so much knowing laughter in this class, it is a really positive sense of women coming together and being comfortable in each others company. After the routine that might loosely be referred to as ‘dance’, we move into floor stretching and work on our core. She tries to explain where we should be feeling the ‘burn’ in the stomach muscles for each type of crunch exercises Eventually, after some discussion amongst the group, she takes on board the user feedback and agrees with our collective analysis that is ‘yes, well basically, that first spare tyre you’ve got, the one under your bust? That’s the one we are working on here’ I LOVE her approach, this is the lived experience of our bodies engaging in perhaps unfamiliar exercise. No pretentions, no inhibitions, we can just laugh our way through all this and do what we can. I am very conscious that as I carry all my excess weight in my midriff I’ve basically got tyres appropriate for a substantial off-roading four-wheel drive, but in this class right here and right now, I’m not self-conscious and I really don’t care. Life is good.
The class ended with some leg stretches, this included one where you basically sit on the floor, legs in front of you, but instead of crossing them, you have the soles of your feet touching so your knees drop out sideways. No idea what it is actually called. It gives you a good stretch, and you can use your elbows to push down a bit on your knees if you want to make it deeper, but all of us have our knees sort of suspended quite a way off the floor. This caused one of the class to suddenly rather randomly exclaim: ‘Do you remember that woman who came here once and bang. Her knees went out sideways right down touching the floor. It was amazing. Whatever happened to her?’ A cluck of recognition went through the room as the more long standing participants of the group remembered the woman who performed this amazing feat of suppleness, but no-one recalled ever having seen her since! It had us in stitches (though I appreciate maybe you had to be there to share the joke). Our fitness guru did acknowledge with a wink, that there might have been a causal connection and said she’d try and track her down and give her a call to see whatever happened and check she was OK!
It was through a gale of giggles that we completed our upper arm stretches. At that moment the community health champion co-coordinator, who established the class, poked her head around the corner to see how we were getting on. She was seeking to promote a ”health in the city’ campaign, and wanted a couple of shots of us ‘ladies’ in our glorious yoga poses to use for the publicity (optional participation). We were all up for it though, this class is great, women of all shapes, ages and sizes do take part in exercise and it would be wonderful if more did so. Whether my positivity will survive the sight of my image on a billboard at Sheffield railway station, or on the back of a bus (I can already hear that joke in my head thank you for noticing) remains to be seen! In fact, I know it will be more likely a few rushed fliers and a soft focus image of a group of us in which it is impossible to pick out any one individual, on a City Council website, and that would be fine and dandy.
After all, it is indeed a Wonderful World, and there is much pleasure to be had for a pound. Start saving your pennies now!
Oh, and favourite outfit for today? The older woman who wears really trendy T-shirts each session. This week, her top is sporting a huge red padlock emblazoned with ‘love 4 ever’, with a roughly drawn background of wire mesh fencing and barbed wire onto which the lock is fastened lovelock style. She is awesome. We all are, what more to say?