Well now, not yet late afternoon and already I'd wager I will need the steady pouring hand of my local barkeep later to help ease this day behind me.
I overslept you see, and this made me late for kickboxing.
Being late for kickboxing is like being late for assembly. You come in and everybody looks, ashen faced, at you as you stumble woolly headed through the door, your bag spilling shin pads and socks thither and yon.
Memnoch was most wrathful. Because I was late he had already assigned Claire with someone else. Someone was missing and that meant every body had partners. He left me standing by the kick bag for what seemed like an eternity before he even deigned to turn his head.
'Oh, you decided to join us.'
I might as well have been eight years old.
'So sorry,' I muttered, 'work was-'
He held his hand up, palm first. Memnoch does not care, and anyway he can see from my hair I have just fallen out of bed and raced there. My lies only serves to insult him and dig me deeper into the shit.
'Everybody is already partnered up,' he says in a tone that scrapes my epidermis like a knee sliding on an all weather pitch. His eyes are dead, like headlamps waiting for someone to throw the ignition.
'Oh.' I say, pathetically
Everybody is skipping and yet no one seems to be breathing, how can that be? I can hear the ropes slap the mats, but no breathing.
'You can work with me.' he says, and now I can his eyes are not dead after all. There is a definite flicker of malice there, how could I have been so blind not to notice.
Short of bursting out crying and fleeing the scene -which Memnoch expects of girls anyway- I have no choice. I hurry to the changing room and get changed rapidly. I bind my shin pads extra tight and wish I had hobbit fairy chain mail to protect my body.
Gulp, fucking gulp.
Oh well, no point pretending it was anything other than the torture I deserved.
Because I had not been given a chance to warm up properly Memnoch's every kick and punch into the pads jarred my body so badly I had a headache ten minutes into practice. As he demonstrated different moves to the class, I threw my weight into the pads and gritted my teeth as each blow sent me back couple of feet. Occasionally he would give me a few seconds to shake out my arms, then proceed to kick the shit out of my pads again. When it was his turn to hold he demanded every kick and punch be higher, faster, stronger, "KICK THROUGH THE PAD! Come on, FOCUS, turn your foot, long line, come on, call that punch, HIT IT!"
After a while my muscles were screaming, the sweat that wasn't running into my eyes and stinging the shit out of them was flying in all directions. I started to feel clumsy. I got a stitch that I ignored, knowing if I mentioned it he would get that look and I would be humiliated.
Around me everyone else was feeling the effects of my lateness too as he drilled us like a major with sun stroke.
Then he pulled it out. The big gun, the kicker.
'Right, we've got twenty five minutes of class left, and since every one of you lot seems to be flimflamming ( I don't know what it means either) it today, get the kettlebells, we going to hit it.'
Fuck gulp fuck. We are dazed.
We move. Strength conditioning meets endurance. The worst thing in the whole world to do to an laready exhausted body.
By the time the buzzer sounded to end class no one, save the Canadian, was standing and he wasn't so much standing as clinging to the kick bag heaving air into his body, trying not to puke.
The rest of us lay in various puddles on the mats, there was some groaning, some wincing, a lot of wet spots.
Claire rolled over to me, her face contorted in pain as she tried desperately to prevent her hamstring from cramping.
'I'm sorry.' I said before she could say anything.
'Yeah.' She said and rolled away again.
Yeah. At least she didn't spit at me.
As I limped home I realised something else. I didn't have my keys.
I stopped at a phone box and called Etheline. She called me 'a spa' and, not very graciously, said she'd go to her home, pick up the spare set, come back in and open my apartment for me.
So I sat on the ground outside my apartment for forty minutes, like a stinking, redfaced troll, trying hard to ignore the looks I was getting. Shortly before Etheline arrived I watched the Harpy come up the street with her shopping trolley behind her.
She nodded at me.
I nodded at her.
She dug around in her bag for her keys. But I could see her cast the odd glance my way. I pretended not to notice her, which is very hard to do when you're sitting inches from her hem. Then.
'Is everything all right?'
I turned my head to her as if surprised to discover that she is still there. God I'm a terrible actress.
'Why are you sitting outside?'
'I locked myself out.' I try smiling, can't pull it off. 'I'm waiting for my sister to come with the spare keys.'
This throws her, a charitable person would ask you to come in while you wait, a gracious person would accept. But we have had a lot of run-ins in the past and this is new and unwanted territory.
'No no, I'm fine.'
Both of us look relieved.
She goes inside quickly. Presently Etheline arrives, calls me some more names, opens the apartment door and I am home.
HOLLYWOOD TAT. The Donald, aka Donald Trump has also procurred a new baby boy. It is an awful pity he would not procure himself a new hair stle.
Jennifer Aniston claims she is sick of tabloids. Boo hoo.
And finally, Nicole Kidman wished Katie Holmes and the new baby well. She never mentioned Tom Cruise and one gets the feeling she wishes he would climb into his space craft and fly far far away.