John Walker's Electronic House

by on Jan.15, 2005, under The Rest

I’m sorry to report that leisure centre male changing rooms are still the same as ever.

I don’t frequent such places with any regularity, since about a decade ago when one of my more potent complexes developed enough power to prevent my swimming in public. Without swimming there is rarely a need to use the male changing room, and it’s a good thing too.

Today, however, I played badminton with Chrissy. This is something we used to do regularly, and have just begun doing again, but previously the weather was appropriate for arriving at the centre in the clothes we’d play in. Today it was minus eight thousand degrees celsius and so wearing shorts for the walk down would have resulted in the loss of both legs. It meant WEARING DIFFERENT CLOTHES THAN THOSE WORN FOR PLAYING IN. Yes, it meant: Using The Changing Room.

So it is now my belief that the old grey man and the late 30’s man who stand naked in the middle of the communal changing area, scrubbing at their (own) dangly bits with a large off-pink towel, are employed by the leisure centre. They are ever present. They were there when I was a small boy going swimming, when I was a teenager going to those slide-improved swimming pools, and on any infrequent occasion I should have happened to stumble into one since. And indeed they were there today.

What possesses these people, when there are walls of empty changing cubicles lining the walls of the room, to make their genital drying a public performance? Are they inexplicably proud of their parts, wanting to ensure that all passing can be wowed by their decreasingly damp loinage? Are they terrible claustrophobes, unable to cope with the confined space of the cubical? Or are they, as I suspect, dads?

I believe it is something that occurs upon the birth of your first child. Something snaps inside. Some part of the male brain that had previously served to prevent public nudity entirely shuts down, turning a previously normal man into a serial naturist.

Perhaps it’s a pride thing. “Look! This thing works! It flipping works! All survey my fully functioning phallus.” Or perhaps, and I think this is my most likely solution, they are there to ensure that men are sure they have walked into the correct changing room. The thought of accidentily going into the girls’ room while it’s not busy, entering a cubical and getting changed into your swimming gear, and then walking out to be met with shrieks and lawsuits, is too terrible to contemplate. Were the naked old man and the naked man in his late 30s not there, the ambiguity of location would be too much, sending any rational male into a crazed search for the back-up solution – the inappropriately placed urinals. (For those who are less familiar with men’s changing rooms at pools (I think they’re called ‘girls’), for some bizarre and enormously disturbing reason, the urinals are always just placed against one back wall of the changing room, barely divided from the rest of the area, meaning that anyone peeing there is doing so for the eyes of the rest of the room. Is there no way these places could be made worse?).

I do not know if women’s changing rooms have an old lady and a mum in her late 30s with large off-pink towels. I shall wait to be informed.

Of course, the generational element is easily explained. People are hired as soon as they become dads, and then work for a leisure centre until they die. But it’s not so simple as just standing there endlessly scratching your scrotum with a beach towel – there are techniques, methods, unique skills. So each new arrival is paired up with an older, more experienced expert, who shows him the ropes (snigger).

It is solved. But it remains so very wrong.

4 Comments for this entry

  • Steve

    I’m with you on this one.

    It wouldn’t be quite so bad if, while performing the genital rub-down, they didn’t insist upon cocking (hem hem) one leg onto the bench you’re sat on, bringing the Rt. Hon. Member for Underpants up to eye level for even better exposure.

  • MHW


    There are no excuses.

  • Tom

    Tim was wearing shorts, and Craig asked him why, given the temperature. He explained that it was to avoid the changing rooms. I said “Yeah, I hate the changing rooms. Who /are/ those people who stand there rubbing themselves nakedly when there are dozens of cubicles free?” Now I know. This doesn’t answer my next question, though, which was “Where is their shame?”

    Seinfeld quote of the moment:

    Naked Guy: I’m not ashamed of my body.
    Jerry: And there’s your problem. You should be.

  • Andy Krouwel

    One Word: Track suits.

    Thank you, the seventies.