Colin Robinson reads from his memoir ‘Paddleball’ in Granta 122: Betrayal and talks to Ted Hodgkinson about how an old brotherly friction re-emerged during a game in New York, and how gym culture has changed the way we view our bodies.
‘The new McBurney is located just nine blocks further south, on the ground floor and basement of an apartment building on 14th Street. Though its purpose-built premises, with their gleaming white exercise rooms and brightly tiled swimming pool, could hardly be in starker contrast with the previous building, the clientele has remained largely the same. Leaving those dedicated to fitness and physique to the city’s commercial gyms, the emphasis here is more on the sociable than the cardiovascular. The crowd is generally neither young nor fit. These people would rather spend time turning radioactive pink in the steam room than labour on a StairMaster or exercise bike. They converse in high decibel on clusters of stools between the lockers, or watch baseball from sticky plastic armchairs arranged around a small TV in a corner of the room. The scene resembles an exhibit of Lucian Freud’s work, with yards of drooping grey flesh in every direction.’
Artwork detail from illustration © Guy Shield / The Jacky Winter Group