Jostling with the Jobless at the Local Gym REDUX


[This article was first published on 12th May 2009, on]

I stand corrected. It is NOT just the jobless I am jostling with for treadmill time (see previous post: Jostling with the Jobless at the Local Gym); it appears I am now rubbing shoulders with royalty down at my local authority sports centre.

Well, not royalty in reality but The Queen in her best onscreen guise – yes, none other than Dame Helen herself. I have always thought myself above celebrity worship, or even mere curiosity. But such tangible proximity to the grande dame of drama unleashed my inner Hello!-reading, Celebrity Big Brother-watching alter ego.

In the manner of an incompetent stalker, I surreptitiously watched with interest her every move, while feigning interest in the BBC news on the screen in front of me and trying to stay pace with the tireless treadmill. Unlike me, her pursuits of the morning appeared to be anaerobic, moving from one toning machine to the next (explaining those legendary bikini shots last year), all the while toting an ill-disguised open script.

I say ‘script’ but I could be wrong: A4, dog eared, bound together in a ‘this is not commercially available in print’ sort of way, with the text set out in the style of higgledy piggledy dialogue rather than blocks of text typical of more mundane manuscripts. Overcome with zealous obsession wrought by months of the unextraordinary, I harnessed my gossip girl within.

Seizing my chance when she ventured to the mat to stretch and ab-exercise, I ambled over. I considered commending her on her Oscar winning performance in the role of HRH but for the small issue that I have not actually seen it. Instead I tried to sneak a rather indiscrete peek at her script (MI5 covert mission this was not) while assuming the pretense of fumbling with a disproportionately large swiss ball.

Somewhere amidst contorting myself to ascertain the gist of her reading material, I seem to have lost sight of her presence – she abruptly snatched the script from my line of vision, dragging my gaze with it; breaking my precariously balanced pose and leaving me in an ungainly heap on the mat, swiss ball rolling to an exit to the right.

So it appears even dames are reigning in the spending in these spartan times; after all how better to convey sympathy for the poor populace than to join them? And if it’s good enough for a dame then who is a lowly out of work banker to complain? And one more thing, Ms Mirren, may I please applaud you on looking jolly marvellous – even in a Mickey Mouse T shirt and no makeup.


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