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For The Win

January 19, 2013

-Illustration by Mahjabeen Mankani/
-Illustration by Mahjabeen Mankani/

We all think we can win. Somehow. By buying a lottery ticket, entering a TV talent show, inventing a silly gadget, calling up a radio station with the correct answer, turning up to the premiere of George Clooney’s new film in the hope he might spot you and ask you back to his boat. We all think we’re in with a chance.

I was on holiday this week when a friend and I went to a spinning class. This is an exercise class where you sit on a bike – not a real bike but a bike without brakes and you exercise.

My friend is 62. I sat on the bike behind her. During the class, I turned to my left and all the people who were meant to be spinning were watching each other to see how fast everyone else was going.

When we came out my friend turned to me and said, “Did I do OK?”

Do OK? This is an exercise class at a holiday resort on a bike that can’t move. Even Bradley Wiggins couldn’t win on that.

Even if you had fallen off your bike, rolled across the room and ended up on the teacher’s face, you still would have done OK, because it is an exercise class that you chose to do on your own for your own benefit.

These days everything is a competition, everyone wants to win, and everyone thinks they can be better than the next man, even when there’s no prize.

It made me think, ‘Did I do OK?’ I actually felt a bit down, like I’d failed my GCSE math again because the fat man on the bike next to me was going so fast he was almost flying, his backside was nearly touching the ceiling and his arms were lifting the handlebars.

Does that make me a loser? Because I didn’t top it. But I don’t know the man and I’m never going to see him again.

Later on that evening, I saw the same man in the bar and he blanked me, I wondered if it was because I was going so slowly on my bike.

The next day I went to an Archery class. I had never done archery before in my life so I wasn’t going to be good but I didn’t envisage just how awful I would be. If I hadn’t been supervised someone would have been killed – my arrow went everywhere except the board.

A young girl of about 23 got up and consistently hit the bull’s eye. She reveled in her own brilliance. A totally confident, annoying, show off. Someone who had obviously been born confident, she was probably public speaking as she came out of the womb.

An older man in the class said, “I’m too scared to get up now, everyone else is so good”. The poor man then reverted to talking about the film star Susan Sarandon to divert away from the situation.

The other day I bumped into a friend of mine who I went to school with. She told me she has five children with 3 different surnames, has been married three times, changed her name twice, has always worked, and has no grey hair. I’m still Shazia Mirza, have got loads of grey hair, and moles appearing in unusual places. What have I achieved?

We all want to hit the jackpot in someway. Most of the time there is no prize, no medal, no award. Sometimes, you have to do things for yourself, for a laugh, for fun, for love. It may not win you friends, you may get blanked as you walk down the corridor, you might have a bright, red face and smell like a pig but you’ll know, in your mind, you are the King or Queen of the spinning world at the 10.30 class at your local gym.

Shazia’s new stand up comedy tour ‘Cukooland’ starts February 1st. For dates and tickets see:


The author is an award winning stand-up comedian and writer. She has performed all over the world. A columnist for The Guardian UK, she was named Columnist of the Year at the prestigious PPA Awards. Find out more from her website.


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.