There’s nothing like a public sauna for meeting people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. The health benefits are well documented, but the real value of a sauna is in the friendships you make, however brief.
Saunas are too small for private conversations. None of us can help eavesdropping and I’ve not met anyone yet who minded.
Jack caught my attention with the conversation he was having with his pal. They sat down heavily on the wooden slats of the sauna in my local leisure centre.
Jack’s friend put his feet up and asked: ‘What’s your business name gonna be?’
Great, I think, I love hearing about people’s mad business plans.
‘What do you mean?’ Jack replied.
‘I thought you were going to pretend you had a business,’ his mate says. ‘But you said you needed to make up a name.’
Pretend? Make up?
‘Nah,’ Jack says. ‘I’m gonna tell her it was my grandad’s business.’
‘Oh, and you inherited?’
‘Yeah. So if she asks any difficult questions, it doesn’t matter when I don’t know the details.’
Her? She? Inherited? Difficult questions?
‘Like, if she asks what kind of car I drive,’ Jack continues, ‘I’ll just say an Audi S4 and tell her my grandad’s the one who was into cars.’
That seals it: these guys are clearly planning some kind of fraud or, at the very least, catfishing on Tinder.
I interrupt: ‘What on earth are you talking about?’
Jack looks up from the floor, a bit sheepish. ‘It’s a new E4 dating show.’
‘What, really? I thought you were catfishing!’
Jack laughs. ‘Nah. This girl has to choose between four millionaires – except one of the millionaires isn’t a millionaire.’
‘And that’s you?’
‘How could you tell?’ Jack and his mate laugh. ‘I haven’t got a clue what millionaires do. I’m more of a Lidl kinda guy.’
The woman sweating beside me joins in: ‘Oh, I love reality shows!’ she says. ‘How did you get it?’
‘They just messaged me on Insta,’ Jack says.
‘Is there a prize?’
Jack scratches his head. ‘I guess the prize is her,’ he says. ‘The producers can’t tell me much, but they say she’s a ten.’
I’m not sure I like the general drift of this show. ‘What’s her prize, then?’
‘What do you mean!’ Jack says indignantly, before laughing at himself. ‘Her prize is all the swanky dates us four take her on, I suppose.’
‘You’re not paying, though, are you?’
‘No – that’d give the game away straight up. Cheeky Nandos, love?’
The woman on my left laughs with unpolished delight. ‘Or maybe it’s like Love Island and she gets a cash prize as well.’
‘I applied to Love Island this year, actually,’ Jack says. ‘Got down to the final round.’
‘Amazing!’ the woman says. ‘Are you gonna apply again?’
‘Definitely. Next year I’ll have this E4 show on my CV and I’ll be able to say I conned a girl into thinking I was a millionaire – hopefully.’
(This story was, of course, first written up as part of my daily diary.)