Of the many embarrassing episodes I have had since first setting foot on this planet, this week came the worst yet.
After playing five-a-side football during my work lunch hour, I nipped into the shower (I work a few days a week at the BBC, a building in Salford Quays so fancy that there are not only showers in the office but coffee shops, too; a working class lad like me feels most out of place).
The shower was lovely – I had purchased some very nice Red Berry and Mango Oil bodywash so strong it was like lathering in a giant bowl of fruit salad. But then came the issue: I couldn’t open the door to get out.
I’m not sure why this occurred for it hadn’t been a problem to lock the door. Indeed it was a very simple mechanism. All I had to do was slide it to the right, a big red line appeared and it was locked – so in theory all I had to do was slide it back left to unlock it and get out.
However, it would not budge.
I wasn’t too concerned at first and continued to gently push at it, thinking it would give at any moment and I would be free to leave the shower area and be reunited with my clothes, which were in a bag in the changing area on the other side of the door.
But it didn’t give, the seconds became minutes, and I started to panic. Several people went in and out of the changing room, but at first I was too embarrassed to say anything.
Eventually, after a quarter of an hour of unsuccessful tugging at the lock, I admitted defeat.
“Erm, excuse me,”I ventured when I heard the door open and someone enter.
“I think I’ve, erm, well (nervous laugh), I seem to have locked myself in here. Would you be able to help.”
A slightly impatient sounding man uttered these exact words, ‘What do you expect me to do about it?’
Now, if I’m being honest, I was a little cheesed off with this response, but I was also aware that I was in a position of weakness, so thought it best not to antagonise the miserable sod.
“Well,” I said ultra-politely, “I was hoping you might try to pull the door from the outside to see if it will open”.
After what I swear was a tut, the man reluctantly gave it a half-hearted pull. At that moment the door of the changing room swung open and someone else walked in.
‘You alright mate?’ said the newcomer to the fella he’d caught pulling at a locked shower door.
“Yes, I’m fine,” replied the first chap, sounding grumpier than ever, “but there’s someone inside who isn’t. He’s stuck and he can’t get out.”
I can’t begin to tell you how unsettling it is having two people you don’t know and can’t see talk about you, especially when you’re stood in a small shower cubicle with no trousers on, or indeed anything else.
As I stood there, smelling like a mango, there ensued around three minutes of grunting from the other side while my two would-be rescuers tried to force open the door.
They failed, at which point one said, ‘I’ll get security’.
A couple of moments later there was an announcement over the Tannoy. ‘Can Red Five go to the gents toilets on level one, repeat Red Five to gents level one’.
By this stage – some 40 minutes after I had first entered the shower – there were around a dozen or so interested spectators.
The door opened again, there was the sound of heavy footsteps. ’Security here pal. We’ve got a spare key so we’ll have you out in a jiffy.’
‘Thank you,’ I said – then realising my naked form was about to be seen by a rather large gathering of folk, added: ‘Would someone be able to throw my towel over the top of the cubicle please? It’s in the blue sports bag on the bench’.
I heard some rummaging before a voice said, ’got it’, then he paused and added, ‘it’s quite small isn’t it’.
He flung the towel over at which point I discovered Mrs Canavan – who had offered to sort my gear the night before – had packed a hand rather than a bath towel.
It wouldn’t even stretch round my waist and so it was that when the lock clicked to green a few seconds later and the door swung open, 15 men found themselves looking at a shivering nine-stone weakling holding a small cloth over his groin.
To cap it all, I got reprimanded for being an hour late back from my dinner and now have the nickname Showerboy.