Time Out’s award winning columnist Michael Hodges has been at it again. This week’s thing not to do in London – No 619 : change your life
‘So, today,’ Josh says to Simon and Natasha and me at the start of his ‘Dynamic Life Changing Energy’ lesson, ‘we’re going to be dynamic. What are we going to be?’ I look at Natasha. Natasha looks at Simon. Simon says: ‘Dynamic?’
We are in a church hall off the South Circular. Josh has made us take our shoes off for an hour-long session that will teach us to embrace change and live life in a more fulfilling and mindful way. We are not alone in doing this; across our city thousands of people are attending other courses and seminars with Londoners they have never met before in the hope of bringing focus to their rushed and chaotic lives. Josh already clearly likes the way this one is going.
‘So, yes, that’s right, Simon!’ Josh yells. ‘Dynamic!’ There are two kinds of people in the world: those who start all statements with ‘So’, and those who don’t. Josh is one of the people that do. All of his statements. ‘So,’ Josh continues, ‘we’re now going to play some games.’
Playing games with Simon is not an entrancing prospect. Simon is in his thirties and has short hair that has been heavily greased and combed to one side. He has grown what a 13-yearold boy might call a beard and he moves from foot to foot as if he wants a wee, though his discomfort could be caused by an unfeasibly narrow pair of khakis, indisputable evidence that the trend in London menswear towards tighter trousers is not always a happy one.
‘Games?’ I ask, considering Simon’s khakis. ‘So, yeah,’ Josh says. ‘Getting-to-know-you games.’ Do I want to get to know Simon? Natasha is also in her early thirties, but she lacks the 13-year-old’s beard and appears to be able to dress herself correctly. I would rather play the getting-to-know you game with Natasha. Josh must sense this, because he now says, ‘So, Michael, why don’t you pair off with Simon.’ Simon looks at me with disappointment. ‘So, Natasha,’ says Josh, ‘you can pair with me.’ Josh’s agenda is now laid bare. Our life-change tutor is revealed as a man who is mainly interested in changing his own life, in particular his sex life.
He may not, I realise, be the guru I am looking for. The warning signs were there when we arrived. Since Josh has a Facebook page that teems with happy Londoners who claim their lives had been immeasurably brightened by his insight, I was expecting to find a group of 20 or more students. Instead I discovered Simon and Natasha.
‘So,’ Josh says and claps his hands. ‘I’d like each pair to run around then stop and hug.’ We begin. Josh and Natasha do more hugging than running. With Simon and me it’s mainly running. For a few panicked seconds when I do pick Simon up, I fear his trousers are going to burst. But before that can happen, thankfully, Josh tells us to move on to the next stage.
‘So, we’re nearly there,’ Josh says, flushed from gripping Natasha. ‘But we’ve got to really break down these barriers, get to the core of what we are. We’re going to build the foundations of the new you on the ruins of the old you.’
‘How?’ asks Natasha, whose cheeks are also pumping with blood. ‘So, I want us to stay in pairs and shout at each other. Shout anything. Open your mouth wide and blow the other person away.’ Shouting at Simon comes easily, and before long he is a little upset.
Half an hour later we come out to find the queue at the bus stop is looking curiously at the church hall. ‘So, how do you feel, Simon?’ I ask as we join it. ‘Dynamic,’ he replies. ‘Very dynamic.’ Natasha and Josh leave separately.
Read more of Michael’s many mishaps and malaises