When I was in my early teens, Nickolodeon had not yet come to Ireland. Only the rich and those who lived in the Pale had English TV channels, so there wasn’t much teenage programming. As the years went by, the number of teenage programmes increased. We got Sister! Sister!, Kenan and Kel and the truly magnificent Sabrina the Teenage Witch. But for an awfully long time, the only programme all Irish teens had in common was Home and Away.
Home and Away is much more wholesome than the British soap operas. There is no pub, around which life revolves. Instead, the epicentre of life in Summer Bay is the Noah Lawson Memorial Summer Bay Surf and Life Saving Club (NLMSBSLSC). If there was an NLMSBSLSC in Ljubljana, it would constantly be full. Every one here is sporty. They love their adrenalin. Not only do they all cycle and rollerblade constantly (seriously, walking down the street here is dangerous, you could be run over at any moment by an insane rollerskater – it’s like a city created by Andrew Lloyd Webber), there are also numerous mountaineering shops, skiing stores and general hiking/walking/running outlets. My little flat has a cupboard full of climbing equipment and it is not rare to be in a pub with sweaty men in walking boots at the table on your left and skinny people in clingy cyclesuits on your right.
As in Home and Away, this pays off for the people. Anyone who has watched the show will be familiar with the honey-gold skin and the perfect muscle tone of the younger inhabitants of the Bay. They will know that these youngsters could never be accused of covering up too much. Why wear jeans when you could wear three-quarter length skinny trousers? And why wear those when you have a pair of teeny tiny rugby shorts? And obviously it would be outright prudish to wear clothes that covered your shoulders.
The youth of Slovenia are the same. A typical 20-something here has the perfect Slavic bone structure mixed with golden Mediterranean skin. They have the muscle-tone of Bondi Beach and wear the clothes to match. They are all so gosh-darn perfect that it’s amazing they get any work done at all, they must be constantly being distracted by each others’ beauty.
Luckily all this is leavened. As in Home and Away, there is much more variety among the older population. Yes, you have the distinguished Don Fishers and the glamorous Marylins, but you also have the rotund Alf Stewarts, the haggard Irene Roberts and the plain nuts-looking Colleen Smarts.
You would think all this beauty would motivate me, and it does. It also scares me a bit.
One difference between Ljubljana and Summer Bay is obvious from the moment you arrive here. In Summer Bay, there have been murderers and rapists, alcoholics and drug addicts, stalkers and Irish poets, but no-one in Summer Bay has ever smoked. Ever.
In Ljubljana, everyone smokes. Everyone. These bronzed muscular gods and godesses puff like troopers. 20 Marlboro Lights here cost about €2.50, in comparison to €8.50 in Ireland. I’ll leave you draw your own conclusions about the impact this is having on Project Connor.
I’ll leave it there. Exercise report coming your way tomorrow.