Wednesday, 30 June 2010

It’s a small world around the pool.

I understand from friends back in the UK that they have been having some fine weather over there, so much so in fact that there has been talk of hosepipe bans. Perhaps it’s part of a ploy to make people believe that the weather is much hotter and drier than it really is. Certainly there rarely seems to be a need for hosepipe bans here even when we have a couple of weeks of sunshine on the run. Pepe, our caretaker, gardener, general odd-job man doesn’t appear to have any qualms about putting the sprinklers on in the morning.

We don’t actually need persuading that the weather is good here, not at the moment anyway. I’ll wait until later in the year to see whether the locals are satisfied with it. I have been told many times that last year we didn’t really have a summer. They don’t believe me when I say it was about 100% better than most summers I have known in the Northwest of England.

We've reached that dead time of the year when many Vigueses disappear from the city to spend at least part of the summer in their pueblo or in their place nearer the beach. Schools have closed for the summer. Activities organised by Asociaciones de Vecinos come to an end and the library puts its various clubs and groups on hold until the end of September. So there's no reason not to spend time on the pool, provided the weather is warm enough.

Certainly it was warm enough yesterday evening for a group of youngsters, aged about 10 from the look of them, to rush down to the pool at about 10 o’ clock for a last mess-around in the water, maybe celebrating Spain’s football victory over Portugal!

Earlier yesterday I had once again waited until the children had got over their morning shenanigans in the pool before I went down for a swim. When I got into the water there was only a grandfather teaching his small granddaughter to swim and two girls aged about 15 who seemed to be practising for a synchronised swimming competition or water ballet as the old chap described it to his granddaughter. Eventually the swimming lesson came to an end, the synchronised swimmers went off for a rest and there was just me, quietly swimming to and fro as usual.

A little while later a small boy who had been busily playing football removed his football kit and leapt into the water. His mother had just arrived and set up her folding chair at the poolside which was the signal to him that it was all right to get into the water. There seem to be two schools of thought here about children in the pool. Some parents appear to be quite happy that their children, confident swimmers, can mess around in the pool unsupervised while others prefer to be there, no matter how well their offspring can swim. Now, me, I’m in agreement with the latter group but it must be hard for those children to resist the temptation to join the unsupervised mass in the water.

After I had swum up and down the pool enough times I went and sat in the sun for a while, close to a handy tree so that I could retreat into the shade at will. I watched the supervised child swimming around, jumping and diving and generally having fun until his mother made him come out and shower. He then employed the strategy of accidentally kicking his football into the water, not once but several times, so that he HAD to jump back in and retrieve it.

As I was heading back indoor for lunch I commented to his mother that he clearly didn’t want to leave the water. We got chatting and she asked where I am from and what I am doing here, the usual sort of conversation. And then she said, “Pero te conozco” (But I know you). After a moment’s reflection she went on, “Por Juani”. When she told me her name, Dulce, I remembered as well.

One evening back in October, Juani from the book club at the library had suggested I go with her to La Casa del Libro, the excellent bookshop in Vigo centre, where someone was “presenting” a book, in other words giving a talk about a book in the basement conference room of the bookshop. As the book was Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook, an old favourite of mine recently out in a new translation into Spanish, I went along. There we met Juani’s friend Dulce, a primary school English teacher.

That same Dulce turns out to be a neighbour. The water loving child is her son David. It’s a small world or, as the Spaniards like to say, the world is a handkerchief!

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