I was in the gym earlier today (yeah, I know it sounds unlikely, but unlike a lot of what I write, it's actually true) trudging dejectedly along on the treadmill and wishing that I had my iPod with me. For some reason, I need an aural injection of vintage 1981 Killing Joke when I'm on a treadmill. Preferably 'Primitive' and 'SO36' although - given my current state of health - perhaps 'Requiem' might become more appropriate, if I'm not very careful.
Across the road from the Gym, there's a pretty good Indian restaurant. I fixed my gaze on that, and imagined I was striding purposefully toward a reward of a Tandoori mixed Grill, Peshawari Nan Bread, and a pint of ice cold Kingfisher. So I didn't notice at first that the only other guy in the gym had wandered over to me and was peering at me, expectantly. Now lets be clear about something - I wasn't deliberately ignoring the fellow (actually, he had on the LOUDEST t-shirt I've seen for a while, so it wasn't actually possible to ignore him, even if I wanted to) but, well, you just don't talk to people you don't know in the gym, do you? So now he had my attention, he kicked off with "I can't remember your name."
Now, as a skilled ultimate charmer and mixer in polite company, I naturally and almost imperceptibly throttled the nascent reply of "That's because we've never seen each other before, you complete nutter" before it could do any damage. Because now I looked at him, he was vaguely familiar. "I can't remember your name, but you work at the same place I do, and you've got a blog called the grumbling dragon." "Well, bugger me," I thought - but thats another thing you don't say in a gym, "could this be a fan?".
To cut a long story short, we do indeed work at the same company, and had actually spent a pleasant week on a course together with an assortment of other jolly decent folk in the far away wilds of Hertfordshire in a strangely crumbly gothic hotel which was frequently surrounded by psychotic peacocks. Once he'd pointed that out, of course I remembered him, how could I not?
My point is, that when you're used to seeing someone in a specific context like, for example, slaving away on a bunch of strangely futile tasks dreamed up by a remote sadist with a barely tangible grip on reality - then you aren't necessarily gonna recognise said individual when you meet them happily skipping along on an assortment of gym apparatus, dressed in a fashion which would probably cause the aforementioned psychotic peacocks to fall completely and rather dangerously in love with them. So I'm sorry if I seemed bewildered, Ian, it really was nice to see you.
But it did get me thinking. How many other people have I utterly failed to clock, simply because they weren't where I'd normally expect them to be? It's actually the perfect disguise, isn't it? No make-up or subterfuge required.
For example, no-one is ever going to believe that's the septuagenerian Catholic Bishop of Westminster chucking the keys of the freshly TWOC'ed popemobile into the ashtray at the Penge wifeswapper's monthly cheese biscuits 'n' bonking soiree, which means he can actually go to it with impunity.
Public-spirited and ultra-helpful plasticine genius-dog Grommit wouldn't be caught dead digging holes to bury plastic bones on the 18th green and crapping in the bunker on the Old Course at St Andrews, which is precisely why that's the ideal way for him to satiate those irresistible doggy tendencies. If he got lucky he might even manage to hump the leg of the groundsman on his way back to Wallace's place, and no-one would ever be the wiser.
There's no way that's Adolf Hitler driving that Gypsy Caravan float as the London Gay Pride carnival marches though Golder's Green, that's not Jesus munching a bacon sandwich while having "Black Sabbath" tattooe'd across his back, and whatever else that might be, it's not a Dalek applying a fresh coat of dark blue paint to that old fashioned police telephone box.
And despite the fact that I promised you its true, no-one who know's me is ever going to believe that first paragraph of today's blog...