There, or thereabouts…


It is a cold, crisp morning; the sort that draws an involuntary wince when the twin comforts of a snuggie, and the remnants of warm tea are withdrawn somewhat suddenly. Having not visited the gym in two weeks and a few days – blame my trip to the middle of nowhere, not my laziness – the plan is to drag myself there at some stage over the course of the day. The dry, sunny vista that greets my eyes looking out onto Pittodrie beguiles me into kitting myself out in my gym get-up; which is how at the ungodly hour of 9am on a Saturday I am high tailing the 700 yards or so from my house to the gym. The forty-five minute amble on the treadmill passes by uneventfully enough – today there are neither svelte, graceful does nor brawny, over-fit ones to terrorise me, or show me up for the lazy bum I am..

Four minutes into my slow down routine, I catch sight of F, in the full length mirror, she is waving excitedly.. Behind her is her father..

AJ!!!!! He hollers, when I come off the treadmill, wiping my brow and breathing heavily..

You never talk true for this gym matter o.. That girl must have you in her armpit..

I laugh. He and I have this ongoing conversation where he insists the sole reason I am still doing the gym thing is that some woman of some description has me cornered. Just how I could have gone from a couch loving, NCIS/Big Bang Theory bing-er to one who goes to the gym twice or more each week beats his imagination.

[In the interest of full disclosure, both Q. and S. were obsessive gym-ers; nothing of course developed from those liaisons.]

He insists the weight loss is significant too. Bar the odd day on which the extra space in my favourite pair of jeans is obvious, I don’t see any evidence of that. While we are talking, trading these volleys of accusation and counter accusation, someone else walks past with two children in tow. It’s an old classmate of mine from my Newcastle days..

Doing very well with the gym thing pal, he says.. Keep it up, he adds, punching me lightly in my stomach. F. rolls her eyes, like only a woman can. Her father stifles a laugh as he throws me a knowing look… I shrug a bit, inwardly chuffed that the hard work of the summer of living dangerously appears to be paying off already..

On this evidence, I suppose I can claim to be there, or perhaps thereabouts?



Feeling chilly in the westerly breeze is how BBC weather describes the start to the day, and walking briskly from my house to the bus station, I ponder just how right that prediction is in spite of how well I think I am wrapped up – thermal undershirt, long sleeves, a fleece and a wind breaker notwithstanding. I have always thought it interesting just how well predictions of lousy well work as opposed to ones which promise warm, dry spells, or not. Confirmation bias maybe?

I make a pit stop at the office to grab a (free) coffee and give my email a last eyeball to confirm there is nothing waiting that might need action over the next few hours I’ll be out of commission, before I hop on to the 727 to the airport. It is a quick run today and I make it into the airport in 30 minutes flat, in time to tack myself on to the back end of the check-in queue which has begun to build.

The small talk is about the storms which have hit down south – disruptions, trees crashing into homes and the truly sad story of a young boy being swept out to sea dominate – and the apparent suicide of Jimmy Savile’s driver. Thankfully, up here in our corner of WetVille, we have been spared the worst of the storms. The line inches forward steadily, everyone goes through the now regular routine – show passport, weigh bags, confirm any medications, weigh self, confirm contact and details are correct on the electronic travel database and then hop off to the baggage screening area. When it is my turn I do the same, finding that my employers have failed to include an updated medical in my record. Thankfully I am due out before the current one expires so it’s no real biggie.

I drag myself on to the baggage check area and dump my shoes and belt as I walk through the full body scanner. I walk towards the security guard for a pat down, noticing a few chuckles as I do so, but oblivious to the fact that they are directed at me.

Great pair, pal, the guard remarks with a smile playing on the edges of his lip as he points to my feet. My bemusement turns in the instant I look downward into an inward cringe of embarrassment. I have somehow showed up on the one day of the month I will walk about in my socks with a non-matching pair.. In my defence, my day has already being a pretty long one, even though it’s only 10am.