Although I wouldn’t want to bore you to death with swimming stories, I will. I made a point of getting up early so I would be able to avoid the screaming teenagers that arrive on Friday afternoons sometime before 2 PM. Olivia fixed my broken bag strap with glue and initiative, a powerful mixture. I left early and made it to the pool around midday, making my way through the Porto streets with yesterday’s sun and chill still in the air. The dressing room had some old men in there, some younger than me and one of them engaged me in a conversation about England, Portugal, football and Jethro Tull who he’d recently seen live here. I made it to the poolside to see two lanes taken up with a class and the other lanes full with people, some with three people a lane. I stood, I watched, I waited, eventually one lane freed up and I was in but unfortunately with a standoffish older woman who swam the backstroke with flailing arms. This coming to the pool earlier wasn’t working out as I hoped. On top of that, I had lost my nose clip which would turn into a disaster later in the day.
At one point I changed lanes when another lane freed up and only had one person in it. Soon after the flailing woman left and I returned to the original lane. The other problem had been that the lane next to me on the other side had the water aerobics class which meant there was a whole lot of women kicking their legs backwards into the lane with the flailing woman, it was an assault course. It was Ana that was taking the class and when it was over she came over to my lane to help me improve my stroke. My left arm was too close to my head and not going into the water properly, my right arm was coming out of the water too late, my legs were not kicking quick enough and my breathing could be improved by breathing every three strokes, instead of every two and breathing on both sides instead of one. This is like Rafa Nadal who after winning many Grand Slams realised he could improve by changing his technique, I’m not quite Rafa but to change my technique is tough. I tried it, one length and I was puffing and panting whereas usually, I can swim sixty-four non-stop.
I’d met my Cape Verde buddy Elzo on the walk up to the pool, he’d banged on his window as I walked past his parked car. He was sitting there filling in forms, not making the gym today because someone had slammed into the side of his car, I went around to see it on the roadside, serious prang. I met Hugo in the pool, cool in the pool, he arrived, I left. In the dressing rooms, the teenagers began to arrive, I’d seriously misjudged the time, my plan had failed. About fifteen of them decided to have a shower before they went into the pool which is good in itself but it meant shouting, clapping, fighting, talking loud, incessant raucous chatter and there I was in the communal shower with them, the one thing I was trying to avoid. When they left it was silent bliss.
Back at the ranch, earlier than usual, via the bakery, I juiced carrots, celery and ginger, had an arugula, radish and cucumber salad with olive oil and ate an avocado roll before rushing out of the house to go downtown to buy a new nose clip, and a spare. I greeted the lady of the day outside our building and headed into town to hit the sports shop. Bruno who plays the guitar was serving (we talked amps). Fatima who’s always really helpful was also there. I bought two new nose clips as my nose began to explode. This is the result of one swim without the clip. I went to my local coffee house where they give me exactly what I want and I drank and blew my nose. From there via a secondhand shop where I checked out a 15 watt Marshall amp which I’ve since read some reviews about and I’m unconvinced. Next, to the music shop for another guitar stand, Arlindo the owner only had one left. Opposite there’s a book shop which sells antiquarian books as well as less expensive books. I love walking into shops like this and I asked the lady if she had any English books? She did and she showed me to a corner with two low shelves. There, I found a modern library version of Thomas Hardy’s Jude The Obscure which I bought. I headed home.
I had a sesh at 6 PM with Fred. AAE Andy was trying to call me but I couldn’t speak because of my schedule. I saw the news that Oz cricket bowling genius Shane Warne had died of a suspected heart attack in Thailand at the age of 52. You just never know when it’s coming. RIP.
Olivia cooked a nice meal of tofu, rice, cabbage and carrots and then zoomed out of the house to go to a Portuguese poetry reading with her friend Gardenia where she read a poem that she had written in Portuguese – polyglots. I watched the end of the snooker and then cleared up whilst fighting my terrible sensitivity to the chlorine which was all because I lost my nose clip. Better than fighting in a war.