Glimmers of Life

Archive for April 2012

It’s been one of those mornings where nothing quite seems to be going to plan. Where you wake up before the alarm clock, switch it off and then end up snoozing ten minutes past when you needed to be out of the shower. Where you arrive at the tram station just as the tram is pulling in but just as you turn around with your ticket and change the doors start to close and there’s no way you can make those two short steps to the get through the doors in the 3 milliseconds before they close.

But at least I’m having a better morning that one woman that I’m sharing a Virgin Train carriage with…

Manchester to London trains on a weekday morning are busy, busy at Manchester but even busier at Stockport when all the people who got on at Manchester have to shuffle round to accommodate all the people who get on at Stockport with actual seat reservations that have not been displayed in the carriage.

This is what happened this morning, as usual but it didn’t pass without incident. As a group of 7 colleagues all got on with one marshalling the rest to their reserved seats, that’s when it happened. A drink was spilled… A man, suited for a full day of ‘business’, stands up claiming that a drink was spilled down his back. He demands no only an apology but that the culprit (one of the colleagues being marshalled to a seat) clean the spoiled shirt. Now this was an accident, in the gap between the seats, known to most as the aisle but not really wide enough for any bride to saunter down, the squeezing and manoeuvring had caused a shoulder to tap an elbow, which nudged a hand that tipped a cup causing the liquid to leap free from its confinement and onto said businessman’s shirt.

The woman stood, neither producing the requested apology or cleaning facility, this made the man angry. And with his anger coursing through his veins he raised his bottle of coke above her head and emptied the contents on her hair. As the drink trickled down her behind her ears and onto her white shirt, again she stood – but now she too was processing feelings of anger, only able to muster, “are you joking?!?!?! Have YOU just done that?!?!?’ before the physical response kicked in.

At that point Marshaller stepped in, squeezing past her Coke-soaked colleague she stood up to the effervescent man who was still demanding an apology, calling the act ‘uncalled for’ and commanding that train security be called. They did the very British thing and took it outside (well to the slightly larger space by the doors) and had their words there with the conductor as referee. In the meantime the carriage was alive with chatter recounting what happened, and the other colleagues complimenting the Coke-soaked victim for being so calm, as they would have ‘decked him one’ in her position.

As the train, smoothly races through the cityscape it takes a good ½ an hour before the ripples from the incident die down…
Before the colleagues stop using terms like ‘wanker’ and farce.
Before the jokes stop flying ‘what did he expect her to do, produce a washing machine right there and then!’
Before the deeper accusations stop being flung ,” it’s a good job you didn’t hit him, he looks like th type of man who would have hot you back” Before the next steps have been discussed, “do you want to call the police when we get into Euston’, “it’s all on CCTV you know’.
And eventually of course the victim is considered: “Can you buy a shirt in Euston station, there’s a Marks and Spencer there”, “No I don’t think so, they just sell food.”

Well with a start to the day like that it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the day goes…

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When it comes to exercise there are loads of options out there, and in my quest for fitness (read: killer abs and a size 10 figure) I have tried quite a few. I think ultimately what I’m looking for is something that’s a balance between midless jumping around and yoga – where you feel like you’ve had a workout, i.e. actual sweat is produced but that you’ve learnt something too. Two weeks ago this led me to try Capoeira…

I had seen a poster or two for a Capoeira class in Hulme at the Zion Centre on a Thursday, but I never made it. Then I happened to pop into the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale and there was a poster for a new class starting on Tuesdays at 7pm… so I thought I’d go along. Thinking about it now I didn’t really know anything about Capoeira before I went, there was some notion of Brazillian dance floating around in my sub conscious maybe?

But Capoeria is (and here’s the science bit) a combination of dance, ritual and martial arts that developed out of the Portugese trade of African slaves to Brazil the 16th century. In my two weeks of participating I’ve learnt that’s actually a sort of game where you use kicks and blocks in a flowing movement, and it helps you discover moves and muscles you didn’t know you had!

When going to a class, the first move you need to get your head round is the ‘ginga’, which is where you take one step to the side and then put your other leg behind while your arm comes out in front, then you repeat this moving from side to side. Get that and you’re well on your way – although if co-ordination is an issue then it’s not as simple as it sounds! You also need to prepare yourself for working at different levels, i.e. plenty of bending and squating that works those thighs and gluts.

Oh and you should also prepare yourself for revisiting some of those childhood moves you never thought you’d see again… especially sober.. such as the hand stand and the cartwheel – I’M NOT JOKING! When the instructor explained what he wanted me to do, flashbacks of junior school gymnastics and the fear that went with it (even though I did reach a BAGA 4) came rushing back; but when faced with the embarassment of not doing it I managed to rustle up some semblance of a cartwheel. The good news though is that it’s not a big deal – it’s not about straight legs and pointy toes but the movement from one position to the other so if your cartwheel looks more like a bunny hop – it’s OK.

After the first class I was warned about the muscle ache (and yes it did come despite the post class hot bath), but the sense I pride I had from doing a cartwheel (sorry to go on but it had been over 20 years since I last did one) and the fact that I was learning about a different culture all fuelled my next visit, and my fizzle of excitement for going again this week.

There are classes across Manchester, the three I know about are:

  • DanceHouse, Manchester City Centre (Oxford Road way) – Tuesday 7.30pm
  • Zion Arts Centre, Hulme – Thursday 6.30pm
  • Waterside Arts Centre, Sale (next to Sale Town Hall) – Tuesday 7pm

Try it and let me know how you got on! I would say that if you’re looking for a new challenge with your exercise regime then this is definately worth a try (usually first class is free) as it uses muscles you often don’t use in typical gym/dance classes. More active than karate, not as high impact as Zumba but easy to get into. It should get you into a mild sweat and feel like you’re working (possibly even toning) your muscles – I must be on my way to those killer abs...
(although I should say that this is just my opinion and I am no expert)