Seated on a plaid blanket in black bathers, he looks East to where the sun rises. We know when he’s been by the offering at the side of the pool. A perfect duck dive, a bare face and then a clutch of rotting leaves.
He’s not like the ‘serious’ swimmers who toil back and forth with measured stops to check their times or take a drink. While they travel in straight lines, he curves in all directions, diving down into the blue box with the shifting glass ceiling.
One morning I ask him how he is. Eyes set in smile crinkles, he tells me that he is angry; angry with the petty incompetence of his working life and the inability of men and women to rise above mediocrity. Most mornings he is gone before I arrive, but I always know when he has been.
beside an empty pool a fresh of pile of leaves catching the sun
Thoreau’s journal entry for 29th December 1851: The sun is risen. The ground is almost entirely bare. The water is the puddles are not skimmed over – it is warm as an April morning. There is a sound as of blue birds in the air, and the cocks crow as in the spring. The steam curls up from the roofs and the ground. You walk with open cloak. It is exciting to behold the smooth glassy surface of water where the melted snow has formed large puddles and ponds … … How admirable it is that we can never foresee the weather – that that is always novel.
Is it the man we mourn or some part of ourselves that just slows down and says no more; I am weary of this and want to rest?
I wondered that one man could engender such an outpouring of grief and respect. There was no indication that he was someone who would do such a thing nor any explanation as to why. It made me wonder whether there was some secret behind his death and whether those who were so quick to praise would be equally quick to denounce.
There was a picture of him in the papers; shiny grey suit, beautiful blond wife. So many people who obviously loved and maybe depended on his strength and optimistic energy. And his professional life was good; riding high as the manager of the Welsh national team. As a contrast look at Steve Kean, the abused and vilified manager of Blackburn. They say fox hunting and bullfights are cruel but they have a certain elemental purity to them. Not so sure about Coliseum sports. Sticks and stones may break my bones but it is only words that will truly hurt me!
One man in a shiny grey suit praised to the rafters; and one man with a haunted look, set upon by the pack. Did they both see something in the crowd.
But all this musing is just that and undoubtedly says more about me than it does about Kean and Speed. And maybe the treatment they have received says more about us than it does about them.
I offer my condolences to the Speed family and my sympathy to the brave Steve Kean.