As part of my never ending quest to be able to have my cake and eat it, and then have another slice of cake and eat that too, I have recently taken up swimming.
I mean I had swum before, I used to do it quite a lot as a child, and then for a brief period during my early twenties, but in recent years I have done very little pool-based exercise.
This is mostly because of a lack of pool in which to do that exercise.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of them about, but swimming pools often have erratic opening hours, which don’t fit in with my requirements.
Also other people tend to use them.
Which is a problem.
I love swimming. It’s probably my favourite way to burn calories. It doesn’t even feel like proper exercise – I find it quite relaxing, almost therapeutic, as I glide through the water, thinking about all the guilt-free cake I’ll be able to consume once I’ve finished.
But ideally I would always have the entire pool to myself.
I really don’t like sharing with others.
It’s a problem that I have in many areas of my life, but it’s particularly problematic with swimming pools.
I think it’s because, during the aforementioned period in my early twenties when I did quite a bit of swimming, I often had the entire pool to myself. It was a serendipitous combination of that particular pool having quite generous opening times and me having a low-paid job with antisocial working hours. I might have been stuck at work while others were in bed, but it did mean I had a lot of free time when others were working their more sociable 9-5s.
And the pool was often quiet when I was free.
And I got used to that state of affairs.
But these days I work the same hours as the vast majority of the rat race and so when I want to swim, others also want to swim.
And this means I have to share the pool with them.
If I could guarantee I would at least get a lane to myself, I could probably tolerate others in the pool, but even this modest luxury is rarely available.
So for most of my adult life I’ve exercised in other ways, even though I’d prefer to be swimming.
It’s my own fault, a character flaw I need to address, but one I struggle to overcome.
However I have recently discovered a not-too-expensive facility which doesn’t require a huge deviation on my journey to work, and at this facility, if I get the timing right, I rarely I have to share the swimming pool with more than one other person.
Unfortunately to get the timing ‘right’ I have to get there quite early.
As in 6am early.
Although this is clearly madness, in most respects there has been little in the way of significant change to my daily routine, but I have been starting my daily commute with a slightly different radio show playing in my car.
For the last few years my radio station of choice has been Radio 4, and I mostly listen to the Today programme on my way to work. This is a predominantly news-based show – Radio 4 does not play music. I don’t listen to Radio 4 because I particularly want to keep up-to-date with current affairs, it’s just the latest stop on a nomadic radio journey I’ve been taking since I decided I was too old to listen to Radio 1 anymore. I did continue listening to Radio 1 for a few years after I outgrew their target demographic (which is 15-29 I believe) but there came a point in my early thirties when I knew I had finally become too old – and that’s because it started to really get on my nerves. I tried Radio 2 for a bit, but while I find some shows on Radio 2 tolerable, it does try and be all things to all people which means it’s only occasionally in line with my particular tastes. As with all people who think they’re cooler than they really are, Radio 6 is probably my natural home, but that’s an exclusively digital station which can’t be picked up on my exclusively analogue car radio.
So Radio 4 it is for now. The Today show is perfectly tolerable, it never hurts to know what’s going on in the world, and, depending on what time I get out of work, the drive home usually offers up something interesting too.
But the show that’s caught my attention on my recent early morning drives to the swimming pool, is charmingly anachronistic.
It’s a short emission called Tweet of the Day. The first time I heard it, I presumed it was referencing the giant social media behemoth that so dominates the news these days.
But rather than offering up the latest moronities from the POTUS, or the pithy views of other social commentators, Tweet of the Day is a show about birds. Actual birds. And the sounds they make.
Which is really quite a nice way to start the day.