At the pool today, Julius, 8 foot tall anorexic Tanzanazian with eagle-eyes asks me why I have one toe with gold nail varnish. I don’t have an answer that comes anywhere near satisfying him.
Later in the sauna, Azra, the Egyptian goddess, talks incessantly about herself, how she and her world interact, how the universe hangs on her every breath. I ask her about the wearing of the niqab and she tells me it should only be worn by a beautiful woman to stop men fighting over her and an ugly woman to hide her face. I nod until my head comes loose, topples, bounces once on the slatted bench and rolls over the glistening tiles of the floor, but she doesn’t notice.
And in the entrance to the steam room, Chen Ming, the diminutive Chinese chef from Acomb, has a long story about the poisonous ribs prepared by his chief rival. ‘You can write it in your book,’ he tells me unnecessarily.
Long after they’ve left, rejoined their various streams of life, I’m still reading the Life and Times of Michael K by the poolside. Can’t seem to drag myself away.