Monday, August 17, 2009

Anything to wash?

As someone well used to the completion of mindless repetition of lengths of the pool when swimming I might be expected to have at least some degree of sympathy for most other forms of pointless (in the true sense of that word) exercise.

This is not so.

Who is so weak of intellect that he cannot sneer at what passes for jogging as ageing people who look as though they are in the last stages of zombification lurch (no, that is too active a word for how they perambulate) towards the unwary passer-by looking in their lycra and iPods like an updated Grim Reaper.

In-line skating is only for the very thin and very good looking where their appearance and expertise seems oddly linked to their masking mirror shades producing a sort of high profile rejection of the normal world. Everybody else, as they stagger their way unsteadily along whatever public right of way they find looks like a character auditioning for one of the grotesques in a Breughel village painting. Not only is the exercise questionable, but it is physically demeaning.

I do not like exercise which takes your normal environment and worsens it by placing you in undignified and unnatural positions or attaching unnecessary and pointless articles to your body or adding rules and regulations to increase the difficulty of some activity.

Swimming is the one liberator. It gives you a different world; eradicates gravity; changes your universe. You don’t need skates to glide, a parachute to float or an aircraft executing a parabolic curve to be weightless. You don’t dress up to partake; you dress down. It is democratic: sea, lake, river, pool – all can be used to experience the thrill of ‘other’ which is what water gives. And dress is optional.

What prompted these musings was a bike jaunt this morning. Paul Squared (on folding bike); Toni (on hydraulic new purchase) and I (on new silver Old Man’s Bike) went on a sedate trip into Gavá along the paseo. A trip that became even more sedate when a peddle on Paul Squared’s bike fell off and he had to walk it home. I discovered that it is much more difficult to ride a bike slowly than at what passes for full speed with me.

As we were (when we were) cycling along a fairly level pathway at the side of the sea it could be said to be sightseeing rather than exercise. For the first time we went beyond the natural barrier (or at least I have taken it to be natural barrier) of the ‘river’ in Gavá.

A short ride along a main road to skirt the ‘river’ and back onto the cycle track discovered to view a whole new range of expensive homes and yet more stretches of the beach filled with lazing bodies.

Apart from making me commit one of the seven deadly sins as I see elegant sea-side plate glass fronted mansions which have sea views, this jaunt could be considered exercise. When I used the folding bike with small wheels to glide my way along the paseo it felt like hard work. On my Old Man’s Bike with very much larger wheels and its ‘plush’ seat (augmented I have to admit with a pair of deviational cycling shorts that I have been persuaded to purchase by Toni) the journey was one almost akin to pleasure. Almost.

I still find swimming the one form of exercise which is personal, individual, and coherent.

But it must be done with some degree of circumspection.

Paul One in an uncharacteristic impulse of physical abandon threw himself into the swimming pool ignoring the fact that he had his wallet in his pocket. With all his money, credit cards and other impedimenta of civilized life.

The upshot of this escapade was that not only was I able to bring into use one of my many unused wallets, but also I was able to see a metaphor made manifest. Paul had to hang out his money notes on the line which we usually use for the towels. So, for a brief period of time I was able to see Euros and pounds fluttering in the breeze watched like a hawk by Paul.

Our evening meal was going to be in a puzzlingly popular restaurant on the paseo. We arrived to find the waiters engaged in a friendly conversation which they were disinclined to stop merely because customers had appeared. When we were eventually shown to our table it took an unconscionable time for the menus to appear then we were ignored for another period when we should have been asked what we wanted to drink. On my suggestion we upped and left never to return.

It does seem that the restaurants of the paseo rely on the fact that they have a constant passing trade and do not feel that they have to make the same effort as other, less well positioned places.

In the event we returned (almost instinctively) to the Club Marítimo and had an excellent meal. Again.

Our visitors are struggling towards off white in their attempts to show the folks back home that they have been to the sun. By judicious comparison of adjacent skin areas it is possible to demonstrate that the sun has had some effect – though in Paul’s case his most convincing ‘tan’ is the bruise on his arm where he tripped and fell a week or so ago!

Never mind there are two full tanning days left and I am sure that they will be used to the full extent that factor 20 will allow!
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