I recently decided that I needed something new to fill one evening a week. Dates are thin on the ground so I thought a good way to meet men could be by joining a class or course. I like learning new skills or taking up a challenge but when the day came to choose something, it seemed to choose me.
A leaflet greeted me on my arrival back home. Its keywords grabbed my attention: "New beginners Judo course. Special classes for adult beginners. Women and men. Make new friends. Get fitter. Learn self defence skills."
It was £3 per class and less than two minutes away from my flat. Perfect.
I can't say I'd had an overwhelming urge to start Judo after watching Gemma Gibbons win her Gold Medal at the 2012 Olympics but the potential of being grappled by a strapping hunk blinded my judgement on this decision.
I was the first to arrive. There were four of us in all including the immense instructor whom I shall call the Hulk. We learned a lot over the 90 minutes - how to hold, how to fall, how to throw. Jay confessed I was the first girl he had ever had a fight with. He won his first fight with a girl. He was 13. The other boy was 12. He also won.
Every time the Hulk asked a question, I wanted to shoot my hand up like Hermione Grainger but I realized he was asking the kids, not me. "Do you know what rudimental means?" "When I say fluid, do you know what I mean by that?" (Turns out the younger thought he meant water). The only time I almost interrupted was when he asked if they knew what etiquette - pronounced eticwette - meant. I bit my pedantic tongue and carried on throwing myself around. If only I'd read the flyer properly. After "Women and men", it said "(13-60)".
I was in the plank position when given instruction to lift my right arm off the floor. When the Hulk repeated the instruction I replied, "I know, I'm trying but I can't".
That word doesn't exist in Judo he tells me.
"Ok, I tried but I couldn't". Nah, he was having none of that defeatist attitude.
My head was banging from the continual times I landed badly without letting my neck roll gently. With every grapple the Hulk reminded us why we'd been told to wear something we didn't mind getting ripped. My mind jumped back to my hopeful prospects of meeting men having me in the hold. This was not what I had envisaged at all.
The Hulk looked much like a gorilla every time he took the kneeling stance - though confusingly, he wasn't kneeling at all he was squatting (or scwatting if you prefer). When the Hulk told us the name of the evening's final manoeuvre, I couldn't stop singing Adele's Bond theme.
Being held in a scarf hold by two pubescent boys (not at the same time I hasten to add) is somewhat inappropriate. It involves being pinned down, with your arm tucked under their armpit, their other arm is around your neck whilst their head is buried next to yours. The youngest almost strangled me by mistake; at least I hope it was a mistake. At first I didn't try as hard as I could to get out of the Skyfall but when I did, I was stunned and humiliated to find I couldn't.
Except there is no such word as couldn't in Judo.
Disclaimer: This piece is based on actual events. In certain cases incidents, characters and timelines have been changed for dramatic purposes. Certain characters - including myself - may be entirely fictitious.