Thursday, September 23, 2010

game, clearing up, obsession

Every year there are two men hitting a ball at one another at the edge of the sea. But this year though the game , if you can call it a game, is the same, the men are different. One has something resesmbling a bat and the other something resembling a racket, resulting in marginally different sounds when the ball is hit. The ball is somewhat smaller than a tennis ball and somewhat larger than a golf ball. It is padded in some kind of multicoloured material. The men, of middle age, like previous manifestations of players, are adept at it They seldom miss the usual volley, but if they do, pick it up on the first bounce. On they go - plop, pluck, plop, pluck. What strikes me is the persistance of the phenomenon, as though, the game is attached to the place, and its function occupied by different players year after year by default.  It is like birds of the same breed but of different generations occupying the same territory in successive years.

In the morning I watch the meticulous cleaning operation undertaken by employees of Sitges town hall. On the beach, uniformed men rake up the sea´s jetsam and the detritus of yesterday´s human occupation of the sand. They make little piles of rubbish, which they transfer to black plastic bags, which in turn are picked up by a truck. It is a daily  routine a little like the way we brush our teeth.

On the sand is a woman in a mauve shift. She walks from one corner of the beach, for a few yards along the the firm, wet sand at the edge of the sea, and then strikes off at an angle across the uneven, dry sand towards the promenade. At first, I think that she is about to leave the beach, but no,  her route describes a circle round a stack of beach beds, before returning to the corner of the beach by the sea from which she started. Unlike others who have the habit of walking from one end of the beach to the other beside the breaking waves, she does not appear to be enjoying herself. Her gaze is fixed before her feet and her arms swing like those of a soldier on a forced marched. Her face has the tight expression of someone obsessed. And indeed, as I watch her time and time again, following her own track in the loose sand, I realize that she is under an obsession to look 20 years younger than she really is, at any cost.

2 comments:

Barrett Bonden said...

I wondered if your two men, lacking one of those enormous walls that characterise Pyrenean villages, were practising for pelota in some way. The bat/racquet combination seems quite intentional with each giving a different form, and strength, of rebound. Assuming this gets to you in time I think you are going to have to put your retired status behind you, dig out your NUJ card (I still carry mine) and go and put the question.

marja-leena said...

Ah, so you are holidaying in Spain again! Wish I were there, but enjoying it all through your eyes and words.