Monica and I went for a walk around the lake the other day in a surprising haze of warmth and sun. We stopped to watch the ducks up-ending themselves in the water to graze the reed-lined bottom. As one bird rocked his head down and his bottom up my entire body felt, for a moment, the phantom sensation of the water gymnastics I used to conduct while floating in the ocean back home. I realised then that I have not been swimming for almost a year now, and I was feeling the lack.
One of the first books on modern England I read was Alan Coren's Golfing for Cats, in which there is a chapter on the horrors of the British Health System, including a little moment where an arm needs to be amputated to rid a patient of his splinter. I have been literally terrified of the pools here since Monica recounted a tale that seemed to dwarf the splinter episode. Her father stubbed his toe in a public pool here and contracted a blood infection that nearly cost him his leg, as the doctors here were not diagnosing it correctly. With a hysterical mother on the phone Monica sought medical help from the doctors in Perth, and with their pointed questions they managed to discover the problem and her father still has his leg. Incredible story, one pool-shy, hospital-shy Claire!. And the less said about the ability to get to nice beaches the better, I feel, for my sanity and yours.