Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reality hits!

It had to happen sooner or later: I didn’t get a lane to myself during my (second) swim of the day this afternoon.  The pool was packed and in the emptiest lane there was a determined lady relentlessly swimming up and down in the middle.

Now I am no slouch when it comes to staking my claim to clear water and I know that the etiquette in pools like this is that if two swimmers want the same space then they swim anti-clockwise keeping to the left part of the lane.

I watched the woman’s style for a few moments and then launched myself into my swim.  By the time I had done two lengths she had left the lane.  Result.

As you can clearly tell, I have turned into one of those repulsive, selfish up-and-down swimmers that I loathed so much when I was younger.  When I was younger, swimming pools were places in which to frolic; they were places that had passion and play whose vitality and joie de vivre were only threatened by the soulless straight-line swimmers, one of whom I have become.

I did have a moment’s guilt that my purposeful (an odd word to use in the endlessly futile lane swimming in an enclosed pool) strokes might have driven her away – but my “guilt” was soon replaced with fury as some other women took her place and started to swim a slow breast-stroke.

My irritation was modified by the fact that one other swimmer in the lane is no problem at all.  If you swim faster than they do then all you have to do is go back on yourself when you catch up with them and then resume your normal progress.  This lady (note the change of tone) had the good grace to stop and let me pass her every three of my lengths.  This was kind but it did necessitate a fairly brisk pace to ensure that she was not waiting too long, so at the end of my twenty minutes I was fairly exhausted and the last two lengths of breast-stroke were a true cooling down process.

My swim-tea-read the paper approach to the day is becoming a delightful part of my routine.  It remains to be seen how far this continues into the winter months!

The opening ceremony for the Olympic Games has now had its public rehearsal and the response seems quite positive – as well it might be given the extraordinary cost of the event.  I’m not sure what happened when the Empire Games (ah the Empire Pool of happy memory) came to Cardiff – but I think that our pigeon problem was started when the release of the birds was a central part of the ceremony – a big mistake!  I only hope that Boyle is not planning on releasing the sheep from the first part of his opening sequence – though the idea of the new Olympic Park being terrorized by feral woolly beasts after the Games are over is a pleasing one.

I have two major fears: the Opening Ceremony being an embarrassing fiasco and our not winning a single gold.  I don’t think that I have watched an Opening Ceremony all the way through, but I think that I am going to make an exception this year even taking into account the inevitably jaundiced observations of Toni.

Obviously there is going to be traffic chaos (the rehearsal of transport was a disaster yesterday) and that is going to make headlines around the world.  I also understand that foreign correspondents have taken the proudly sardonic attitude of the British to large institutionalized celebrations as being representative of the traditional moaning of Brits.  I blame the Australians for this as they are the ones who have popularized the concept of The Whingeing Pom and that mythical creature has now become world-wide newspaper reality!  

Still doesn’t mean it’s true though.

I still haven’t taken enough pictures with my new camera to evaluate it properly and I am having trouble finding and downloading the right aps so that the camera can speak to the computer and also speak to my phone.  Why I need this to happen I am not quite sure, but if it can happen then I want it to.  I will think about its usefulness after I have got it all working!

I have started listening to the first of the two CDs which were part of my Retirement Lucky Bag and I realize that I do not know Grieg’s Quartet.  This one has been arranged for String Orchestra and it sounds very jolly and I should get to know it without the pain that accompanied trying to become familiar with something like Le Grande Macabre (of evil memory).  The other disc is by Holst and since it does not have either The Planets or the Saint Paul Suite there is more learning for me!

The programme for Operas for next season has arrived and there is some learning to do there too.  I am determined this year that I am going to be better prepared for my Operatic Experiences than I was last year.  I did (most) of my homework and it was only for the Catalan contemporary of Mozart that I did nothing.  Luckily it was tuneful and histrionic so it made up for my lack of effort.

For one opera I went by train and stayed in Barcelona in a basic hotel just off the Ramblas after the performance so that I was able to amble back to Castelldefels by train the next morning – much more civilized and not costing much more than bloody parking in the centre of the city!  Something to think about and plan.

We are within a week of the end of July and I have yet to read a single book this holiday.  For someone like myself this is tantamount to spitting on the True Cross or deciding to go and eat in the restaurant of the golden arches.  My Kindle is full of unreadable free “Classics” and I have said to myself that it is probably about time that I actually bought a book digitally, as I should have done for the “Fall of Giants” rubbish that I bought in hardback and have been trying to get rid of ever since.

I think that it is time for sheer self-indulgence and therefore I think that the first book that I will buy will be by Terry Pratchett.  I wonder, he thought evilly to himself, if you can get them free anywhere?

Tomorrow the doctor for a periodic check and my periodic scolding and Thursday a trip to Barcelona and a meeting with Suzanne – lunch and culture. 
That’s the way to live!

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