Thoughts from the bottom of the pool

Contemplation of life and death, set in a small health and fitness club

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Peregrine and Roy

As approach the pool I am pleased to see that there is only one person in the pool. It is “Peregrine Worsthorne”. She swims slowly but steadily up and down the pool. Yes that is correct I did say “she”.

Take the head of Peregrine Worsthorne and put it on a fairly corpulent female body aged somewhere between 58 and 64 and you have the image. Put this creature in a pale, florid and rather large bikini. Now you have it more clearly still.

I slip into the pool and start to swim. Soon Peregrine is joined by “Roy Hattersly” who is also a woman. She is shaped a bit like an apple on legs, and has slightly shorter hair than the real Roy. She also wears lipstick, which I feel sure that Roy does not.

Roy and Peregrine swim together in amiable conversation. They are very nice women. They always nod and say hello, and they are always courteous and polite. They have a kind of genteel and self-contained aura about them.

Next we are Joined by “Groucho”. As his name suggests he has a large moustache, a big nose, and glasses, except in his case the first two items are not removable. Here the similarity with his namesake ends. He moves with such mind numbing slowness, it is hard to believe it is not a piece of modern dance, or performance art.

It is proper to take a shower before climbing into the pool, and Groucho is showering as I complete length 45. On Length 53 he is still showering. On length 64 he starts the slow trek to the steps into the water – a distance of about 20 meters. On length 71 he is still approaching the steps with the concentration of a tightrope walker. On length 74 he starts the slow descent into the water. And here’s the surprise: once in the water he is a fast mover. A big man with a long reach, he can cover the distance at surprising speed.

I get to length 100, and I have 40 more to go. (I have increased the target by 10). It’s at this point that I start to consider what it would be like to be 100 and still alive. I read something in the news about a man who is 100 and still working in a garage. How must it feel to know that statistically you will be gone within 12 months. I watch the mosaic of tiles scroll beneath me. What would you want? Would you fear death or be able to accept it? Of course, it could happen to any of us at anytime. Perhaps I would feel the same as I do now. Worried. I worry about death. Other people do not seem to share my concern. Carrying on as if they are immortal; oblivious of the axe that hangs over them. Happy.

I do not know why am I drawn in to this morbid contemplation so easily? The stench of death hangs about me. The memory of my Dad lying in his hospital bed, still making jokes as the grim reaper advanced upon him makes me shudder. I remember him singing some weird old song:

“Don’t bury my here,
Bury me over there”

I often wish that I had reached out to him and said how much I loved him. But this is only one of the reasons that death so binds me. I have always thought about it, and I don’t know why.

I finish my lengths and head for the sauna. Emerging from the sauna is a woman whose legs look as if they have been badly made from plasticine by a child with shaky hands. One leg is covered in a network of bulging blue veins. She moves with some slowness to the shower, and then to the Jacuzzi. Again despite her affliction she smiles and chats with her friends in the bubbling water.

How can she ignore this disintegration? How can they all swim with such grace into eternity without any sign of fear or alarm? How can they be so brave and dignified in the face of certain death.

I am in awe.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fear death too. I think about it a lot. I worry about the moment.

1:03 PM  

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