Today was a melancholy day. Built in 1973, Monmouth Leisure Centre—after several false alarms—has at last closed its doors to be demolished and rebuilt in two years time.
No more 5.14 a.m starts, the early morning walk to the pool for an uncrowded swim and diving into sometimes quite warm water at 6.47. We brave few silently sneered at the Johnny-come-latelies, drifting in as we left.
Around 7.15 a.m I would invariably think of my wife, warm and tucked up in bed. No sneer there, but occasional envy—replaced very quickly by an ineffable air of superiority. I was achieving, ploughing through water with no definable aim other than a hot shower on passing my fortieth, sometimes forty-fifth length.
The hot shower—the definable aim—was not without problems. Sometimes it was a very cold shower, and there was nothing you could do about it but dance to keep warm and flee to a fierce towel. And sometimes the drainage played up—a small grilled hole in the ground shared between showers.
The offending showers, far left
When that happened soapy water would swirl over ankles and calves and remorselessly rise. At that point you left for fear of the obituary—drowned in a shower.
But now all this is gone, along with my sad, almost anal routine. All right, totally anal.
There is of course an alternative—apart from long country walks, which unfortunately involves a long country hill. Monmouth Boys School have their own private pool and well equipped gym—open to all who are willing to pay over £300 pa.
The thought makes me shrivel. A long line of Henrys, Tobins, Parrys and Keytons scream out ‘Nooooooo!!’
£300, that’s over a pound a day, £7 a week, £28+ a month. The mind whirls in denial as siren voices edge to persuade. I spend more than that on drink.
Yes, but I like drink.
And I don’t have to get up early to drink
You spend as much on books.
Again. I repeat. I don’t get up at 5.15 a.m to read books, and no book has ever kept me up so late.
You have more books on your kindle than you’ll ever have time to read.
Yes, but I’ll have more time now.
And... And. . . And
The jury remains out. In the meantime I enjoy my lie in.