A colleague from a school in Spain once told me that he had never built a pool in the grounds of his house because, “it would have encouraged my wife’s family to come too often and stay too long”!
Such shamefully un-familial sentiments. And ones that I fully share, though not, obviously, in relation to my wife’s family! As one of the houses built around a shared pool I pay a considerable sum in rent and in maintenance. As part of the return for the vast outlay of precious euros we have access to what is described as a “private” pool, for the use of residents only. And friends and family when they come to visit.
The problem with our pool is that only a limited number of the sixteen or so houses that pay for it, have direct access via their back gates. The other houses have access via a locked gate that fronts the road. The description of the gate as “locked” is also problematic. It has a lock and it should be locked after users have entered, but it often is not, and that gives access to non-residents and also raises a question of general security.
If I find the gate unlocked when I pass, for example on my way to have a swim, I lock it. My reasoning is that if the pool is public, why the hell am I paying through the nose for what was described as a private facility? We, the people paying for the pool’s upkeep, should be jealously guarding an expensive element for our enjoyment.
But, like so much else in life, the smooth working of ways of behaving depends on reasonableness. Which is usually in very short supply.
In the summer months, our pool has (unsurprisingly) its heaviest use. People swim, lounge around, chat and enjoy the body of water that for far too much of the year is a glimmering object rather than something to use. Sometimes the pool is crowded with residents, their families and visitors and, as we overlook the pool we have the full stereophonic noise of people finding and celebrating their splashing identities!
I have no problem with this. What I object to are those people who think that they have some sort of right to use our pool based on a complete lack of shame.
Three generations of an ex-resident’s family now use the pool on a regular basis, on an almost daily basis: they are noisy and obtrusive and completely shameless. If they were occasional visitors I would have no objection, but they are more regular users than most residents! And they are not exactly on the breadline; you only have to look at their transport to see that! They take more than they give, which, as they give nothing is not difficult to achieve!
I surprise myself by how much resentment I feel, yet, because I am British, I say nothing. I confine myself to locking the gate, which in our little community says a lot and fuming as I look out of my window!
So far this month we have had (for us) unsettled weather. Perhaps I ought to explain what that means in a Catalan context. It does not mean that we have had days of rain, no indeed, but we have not had days of unbroken sunshine. And it is those days of unbroken sunshine that are the daily currency of my life in this country. We have had sun-showers and overcast days. I have returned to the typewriter (well, computer) to escape one such ‘sun-shower’ that lasted approximately twelve seconds and had about thirty drops of rain. The sun is now back out again. But the fact that we have had sun-showers at all is something that is not part of my expectations at this time in the year.
I have just been speaking to my cousin in South Wales and she told me that while it wasn’t cold, it was wet - and I don’t think that she was referring to thirty drops of rain! So, I shouldn’t complain. But I do. And will.
Tomorrow the final opera of the season: Il Trovatore - something to hum along to and for which I do not need to do any listening homework! Next season promises to be more taxing, though I like the idea of adding new operas to my Liceu experience. This production is one that uses Goya and inspiration from his etchings of The Horrors of War in some ways, so seeing how this interesting take is integrated with the music and action will be something to look out for. After all, as with so many operas, the actual story line is not entirely, or even slightly convincing! The final twist of the that-corpse-was-your-long-lost-brother is something only Dickens could get away with. But I speak as a reader who cried real tears while reading the pathetic death of the little road sweeper in Bleak House, even as I realized how emotionally manipulated by the author I was being! In Il Trovatore, the music makes even the crassest piece of action resonate!
And the day after this high point of culture, a delayed visit to the dentist.
Never let it be said that I was afraid of a sensational life!