Saturday, November 16, 2013


Thunder, lightning and lashing rain.  And for the next three days.  The misery of trying to pretend that summer is not done and getting over wet because you are still wearing sandals and shorts.  We Winter Deniers are members of a shrinking group, but we still, doggedly, exist.

Most of the car park in the swimming pool was under water.  ‘Car Park’ is a term that glorifies the area that is roughly covered with chippings and has no visible means of drainage except into Mother Earth, so puddles are not unknown after the most cursory of showers.  I had to park the car and then do a sort of tightrope walk along a curbstone to preserve some decorum so that I could still be dry before I got wet in the pool.  Of such contradictions is life made up.

The pool itself was relatively empty (‘We [Catalans] do not swim in weather like this!’ Toni.) though there were the convulsive steppers engaged in their sad and hysterical rituals in the building opposite, clearly visible but shamelessly continuing their painful gyrations in spite of my censorious (though myopic) gaze.

The swim itself was more strenuous than usual because I paced myself against some innocent but competent swimmer in the next lane.  What I thought would be some relatively easy ‘catch-up’ swim on my part did not turn out to be so, and pride came into play to boost my stroke rate so that by the time that I had driven myself to parity I was exhausted.  Luckily for my heart my unwitting opponent decided to have a little rest that allowed my stroke to return to normal and my heart to become less Alpine in its trajectory.  As this little effort was in the middle of my swim I was more than prepared for the session to come to a close.  Though, as I keep telling myself, I do feel better for it.  And I am sure that one gets bonus points for going for a swim in foul weather.

I called into our local Lidl on my way home and the checkout assistant is a very friendly girl who calls me by some foreign inflected version of my name and who assumes on very little evidence except for my unnatural confidence that I speak fluent Spanish.  While it is pleasant to be recognized it is unnerving to have to guess-respond to questions where an aimlessly vacuous smile will simply not do.  Luckily there is always a queue and so one can gratefully give way to the pushiness of a following customer and that, in itself limits the depth of conversation.

The continuing rain is an irritation not only because it is depressing and wet, but also because it stops me from showing that I (with a little help) have Solved a Problem.

Living in an area which actually uses the name of the trees with which we are surrounded to distinguish itself form other areas of Castelldefels has its problems and well as its aesthetic pleasures.  The name of the problem is resin.  The pine trees drip it constantly and, as there are pine trees everywhere it is impossible to avoid.  At least it is impossible for your car to avoid it unless you have a garage.  We could park the car under the house but that would mean opening the gate and that is far too much trouble.  So my car has been disfigured by unsightly blotches of very sticky resin.

This resin is impervious to all types of car shampoo and it is so adhesive that you would need to scrape it off with a force which would damage the paintwork.  I have tried using my nails and that only works to a certain extent.  It doesn’t take the resin off completely and no mater how much you wash your hands afterwards there is a certain time that you have to spend wandering around smelling like a refreshed toilet.  And your fingers tend to stick together.

Before the damaged door of the car was re-sprayed I went to a local garage (the same one which had helped me out to change the wheel – for nothing) and used the local machine and hand wash (by someone else, of course) at vast cost.  But, and this is the positive thing about having a menial job done by a person rather than a machine, when I asked the lad about the problem of resin he explained that he used acetone and he demonstrated and the stuff came off a treat.  I now have a bottle of the chemical but no dry opportunity to cleanse the car to get it back to its pre-resin, display room pristine state.  I am vaguely worried that the acetone will take off whatever layer there is on the paint to keep it safe as I fear that acetone is used in the paint process itself – but I shall experiment and, if successful it will have been well worth going to a shamelessly expensive car wash.

And still the rain hammers down.  There is something vindictive about it all and for the first time this year I actually put the heating on in the car.  I suppose it says something that I had forgotten how to do it.  But 11 degrees is not what I want to read out from the dashboard at any time of the year.

Down to the last dozen or so of the discs to be loaded into the computer which now has about 150 more albums that it did a couple of weeks ago!  That’s over a week of listening to music 24/7 and it has taken me long enough just to put the stuff on the hard disk.

I have downloaded an Autobiography to my Kindle after reading a Guardian review which not only lauded the literacy of the enterprise but also said how miserable it was and how the subject seemed to hate virtually everybody – that should tell you exactly whose autobiography it is and just why it is irresistible!

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