Staying with our Anglo-Spanish family, near to Alicante, I walk along the beach. At the weekends there would be a procession – the paseo – of people doing the same, a dedicated routine. Now on this Autumn morning there are only a few of us and whilst there are one or two families with small children, most of us are older people, some very old indeed.
I flash my professional smile once or twice but then as people avert their eyes, I surrender to the fact that this walking buisness is a serious and very personal affair. Courtesies are limited to the people you know and the perambulation is halted for a moment as two couples meet, the women talking to the women and the men animatedly excanging opinions.
It is a perfect morning after yesterday´s storm and there are ships on the pencil line of the horizon, one a tanker and another a tall masted sailing boat. The sun creates a crystalline V shape across the sea and, as I drink my ice cold beer, I fantasise about what it must be like to do this every day when the weather permits, for I seem to recognise some of the walkers.
A daily routine perhaps.
There are others on the beach, the serious sun-worshippers.They arrive with small collapsible chairs, sun lotion, and sometimes a book or the newspaper, remove as much of their clothing as they wish and when all is ready, present themselves to the sun. Like many of the walkers they are impossibly bronzed.
I wonder what it must be like to do this every day.The setting is perfect. More beautiful than many fashionable sea resorts, this great bay – beginning where I am staying and extending several kilometres to the full stop that is Benidorm – is idyllic. But I sense – and I may be quite wrong – that the older people I see look a bit bored, and boredom is the merciless ghost at the feast of our latter years, the scavenger that wrecks the dream of an end life that has purpose.
I would swap even the glorious Mediterranean coast, for the activity and fulfilment that old age can deliver. If both could be arranged – perfecto!