Resurfacing

The world is too much with us. Both too much, and the wrong bits of it.

The thing that propelled me out of bed yesterday morning was the sudden conviction that I HAD to have a swim, my first swim in almost four years, coupled by an equal conviction that in fact, I could manage the £5. That a holding pattern can’t last forever and that you have to have your health, and really the aching and pains and sore back and stiff everythings have been getting worse and worse. The past two weeks with my back have just not been pretty. My ankles seem to have got weaker, after making so much progress after that bad sprain three years ago. And the mattress being like a giant sort of bowl doesn’t help either.

So, as an alternative to the horror of the municipal leisure centre, I went to the London Fields Lido. I went in between calls from some social worker about having to section my aunt in Mile End hospital under a Section 2 – because she had threatened a staff member with a butter knife, under the misapprehension that the doors of the ward lead to a horrible death chamber or something, where ‘people are dying’ – and trying to find out exactly what’s been happening from the nurses, who had not yet regaled me with this event, and then GOING to the hospital, across which we will draw a veil.

I always used to swim about twice a week, and then various things happened which have disrupted things over the past seven years or so, and that has been sufficient to trash me. The result of yesterday is that, although I ache all over, I ache in a slightly different and much better way. My back hurts – it’s the bags, the trudging around with heavy bags of papers and books and electronic devices. My 8th-grade science teacher Mr Balukas, rest his wonderful soul, warned me of this when I was 12, prodding my neck and telling me scornfully that it was like iron. He didn’t tell me the next bit, which was that I should learn to drive as a matter of urgency and never think twice about having a car.

So the pool was wonderful, and although I went really, r e a l l y slowly, I did keep moving for 45 minutes and did loads of stretches and it was under the real sky and with real trees in sight over the edge of the building. It was a strangely emotional experience to just float. The clouds and coolness made it even better.

Anyway, in the wonderful pool I had a sudden revelation, which was that I should put something under the mattress at the point where it dips, like a pillow or something. It would be hey! presto! This is the kind of idea you can only really have when you are swimming.

So I got home utterly shattered and beaten down by life (you haven’t lived till you’ve seen your nearest and dearest screaming at everyone in sight to let them out so they can get a little stuffed cat, which they are calling a dog, to the vet because it’s DYING RIGHT NOW, and then sobbing uncontrollably over it. And you really haven’t lived till you’ve been the only person who has the power to calm down and soothe that person and make them fit to carry on… ) – so at bedtime, utterly shattered and faced with my gully, I remembered the revelation of the pool. And I folded up two old quilts quite flat, and put them in under the mattress. And a pillow at the bottom corner, where it’s now lower than the head. And ohmigod, they’ve done the trick. (They’ve done the trick a treat. That’s wrong, isn’t it…)

Er, so today we have a day of sorting out the stuff at her flat for charity, the Final Cull, no wonder my poor aunt is flipping out over in Mile End. I’m just pathetically grateful to have my kid and his girlfriend in on it, so it isn’t just me. I’ve got a flatbed scanner to get back on the train but I’ll be careful. It could maybe go under the mattress…

… and in other news, let’s see. The new MsLexia magazine has arrived, with my piece in it about marketing for self-publishers. It’s putatively about writers self-publishing e-books, but as with allt hese things, in one sense we’re all doing the same thing now, so it’s applicable for other writers too. MsLexia really is a brilliant writing magazine – for women or men, even though it says ‘women’ on the tin.

I’m picking up my new reading glasses on my way to Chiswick: the final step, I hope, in reclaiming the Baroque eyesight and making it possible to – for example – read Bring Up the Bodies, or maybe MsLexia. Can’t wait.

All I need now is some rose-tinted goggles, and then I can swim even on a sunny day…