Friday, 21 September 2007

Patronized-to-the-point-of-despair-a-blog™, or, Welcome to Virgin Active

Third time lucky I hope (two previous attempts totalling around 1500 words have both been abandoned as too mad and too angry). It's pretty much a sad rant of the sort that makes people say why don't you just get a grip/life/large whisky? so please don't read it if you are feeling fragile. Tell you what, I'll rant for a bit then shout "moo!" when it's over. OK?

As briefly as I can manage:

  • I swim every morning of the working week at what used to be Holmes Places Barbican. Holmes Place was bought and became Virgin Active.
  • New owners = new signage, natch.
  • Some of the new signage is OK, but some of it, especially in the pool, is dreadful.
  • Specifically, it has terrible design and features twee, cutesy, jokey little straplines. Nothing is too trivial to have some appalling kindergarten motto affixed to it. I wonder what they think our average age is? I'm guessing around 8 or 9.
  • To be honest, it's nauseating, patronizing, half-witted cack. (Oops how rude of me.) The people responsible should be ashamed, but they won't be: they are probably quite proud of it. Actually they should have given it to the Year 10 work-experience kid to do, as they would have got more integrity and common sense that way.
  • I just have to put up with it. Complaining there doesn't usually (with certain honourable exceptions) help much and they will have invested tens of thousands nationally in the design and production of this infantile garbage. So its annoying me is not likely to play a major part in their calculations.
  • I know I should get a grip and not let it get to me but I used to come out of the gym most mornings feeling happy and refreshed and now I sometimes come out feeling angry at being a 50-year-old bloke getting spoken down to by an uncaring monolith. An uncaring monolith that thinks it's cute!! An uncaring monolith in pink fluffy slippers!!! The feeling of impotent anger that this engenders is not nice.
  • At the moment it's 50/50 between getting so angry that (a) I just have a heart attack right there in the pool (oh the irony) or (b) I give in to Sprengel, the evil imp of the left shoulder, and start on a programme of creative vandalism. (Note to lawyers, gym staff and police orficers: goak here.)
  • Oh yes. By dint of being careless and stupid and not really paying the pool too much attention, they have managed, in deploying this nauseating, patronizing, half-witted cack (oops!), to screw up a practical issue in the pool. They don't know they have done it yet, but when/if they do realize, or punters realize, or something, it will be interesting. I won't write more on this aspect as I can feel my blood pressure soaring to lethal levels, but suffice it to say that if their ignorant mismanagement actually leads to a fist fight in the pool, I may write about it for your delectation.
  • I'm not a happy bunny. Yes, of course I should get a grip, but strangely enough, being told to get a grip just makes me even angrier. Even if it is me, myself and I who are doing the telling. I'm paying a fortune for this club: I'm hacked off. I suppose I am hoping that ranting about this issue will perhaps help exorcise it to some extent, and having yelled a bit and taken some deep breaths I might learn to ignore the irritants more frequently and get back to enjoying the swimming as before.
  • Sigh.

Some time I might come back to some other Virgin Active annoyances, though if I do, I must remember in the interests of fairness to also write about some of the reasons why it's great and why I've gone there for the last eight years and will continue to do so, despite the nauseating, patronizing, half-witted cack (oops!) that is the new signage. Balance is all, Tamsin.

If you work for Virgin Active, or if you go there and know the new designs I am talking about, especially in the pool, I would love to hear your comments. I would be especially interested to hear from VA why they think it's any good, and whose bright idea it was to talk down so appallingly to their members, and how they think this enhances the Virgin Active Health Club Experience yay woo. Life's more fun when you move, it says here. Well, er, yes.


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