Here in our new home we are in the service industry. We are cleaning pools. The business belongs to a friend and L is working with him.
L is a technology man. A screen man. A friend called him the 'computer whisperer' He has a deep, clear, intimate knowledge of what makes a computer what it is. He has that with dogs too. I never thought that computers and dogs had anything in common - but lately I have changed that view. L understands both intimately, and I always thought was never happier than with dog beneath him and a screen before him.
Until now, that is.
Until I saw him doing pools.
It is summer now of cause, and that does help.
Most of the pools are on the rich side of town. A place where the houses are situated on the sides of fynbos covered dunes with views of the white and blue sea. The pools are mostly of the rim flow variety and if you lie on your lounger, and blink your sunglassed eyes to the horizon, the edge, the very edge of your infinity pool blends with that view beyond. I suppose.
To the pool man rim flow pools are trouble. They collect algae and are mostly inaccessible. They cling to the edge of cliffs and are threatening to life and limb, as you balance precariously on the edge, hanging onto the brush pole like some flapping sail in the breeze.
Pump rooms too, we have noticed, are built as an afterthought, for midgets, or other circus acrobats who are double jointed and can manage to remove sand from the filter, with head down, posterior to the ceiling and one leg in the air, because there simply is no room for it in the room.
One day, with my neck ringed round with the bright blue coils of the vacuum hose my daughter declared that I looked like a model of alternative fashion. Edgy pool haute couture. Pool punk fusion fashion. I think of it every time I negotiate the steep slippery marble steps down to some pool, with swinging bucket and pipe necklace like some ramp model on acid.
The sea is in the reclaim business. I note that whilst waiting, dip stick in hand, whilst L calculates quantities and mixtures in buckets. There is rust to be found on the metal furniture, left alone outside the shut up houses, and work for the maintenance man in leaking downpipes and peeling and warping wood work. Plenty of work for those in service. In fact, at this time of year those are the only vehicles to be seen on that side of town. The pool man, maintenance man, garden man, domestic services, electrical services, builders. It keeps us all busy, our small vehicles struggling up and down the paved dune roads, laden with an assortment of gear.
The temptation is there some days to fall, headlong into one or other cool swimming pool, when the sun is beating down and burning as we splash our way with chlorine and acid and purifiers and sand and salt. We never do. The pools all overlook each other in order to overlook the sea. They jostle for position in their quest for location, location, location.
The lagoon will do for me.
When I stay at home our son accompanies L and they work hard side by side, mostly in silence, as most men do. But they come home hungry and brown and tired.
My husbands hands smell of chlorine when they find the keyboard again. His shorts are damp here and there. White dots are appearing on his t-shirts and his face is sun burnt.
He's happy, he says, squinting into the sun, with dripping hands, as he reads the colour of the water, lying there, squinting back at him.
The Pool Whisperer.