Notes From Days in the Sun with Books

My last blog (read it here) emphasised that a holiday only does its job of recharging us if the environment we place ourselves in is very different. And, apologies to those in cold and wet places, but the sun has continued to shine here. Life in Gran Can has developed its own routine though very different to the normal one in London.

Indeed, I must say that this is the best ever weather we’ve had here on holiday. It really is wall to wall sunshine with almost 0% cloud and no rain at all. Saturday and Sunday had some cloud cover which eventually burnt off to let the sun through. Great for me but I suspect little comfort for those who will have to deal with the disastrous impacts of climate change in the decades to come.

Sun with glasses

Again like last week’s blog, there is no point in detailing every day but here are some of my main thoughts worth relating.

Older, heavier, less mobile

One thing I have noticed is that people in our hotel and tourists here generally seem to be older, heavier, and less mobile than in previous years. Indeed, it must be quite a challenge for our lovely hotel built in an age where accessibility was not a big issue with plenty of stairs and varied levels. And as for none of the lifts working in the Yumbo…

This ‘heavier, older, less mobile’ observation makes me dwell on three facts that may all be simultaneously true.

Am I getting older and less mobile?

First, I have gotten older without realising it. Everyone has aged around me but so have I. And perhaps with my injuries I am also less mobile than I was. It definitely takes longer for my muscles and joints to ‘warm up.’ Though I weigh less than last year. It deeply saddens me how many people here on holiday are over-weight and do not seem to care about the damage it is doing to them.

Dumping on the young

Second, perhaps the cost of our hotel is too expensive for younger people now. I do feel young people carry an unfair financial burden these days in terms of rent/mortgage plus student debt and low pay. Have we reached a time where us oldies play whilst the young pay for our fun? The wealth-age gap is a real thing but perhaps it is more insidious than us oldsters would like to believe.

Am I being unfashionable?

Perhaps being in a hotel is just old-fashioned. Do younger people prefer do-it-yourself AirBnB and self-catering? Is Gran Can not the place to be anymore? Perhaps I am simply out of fashion. TBH, I would always choose a hotel in that I don’t come on holiday to do my washing up nor make my bed.

Gran Canaria Hotel Neptuno

We are glass: The ageing gay

Suppose one of the best things about our hotel is that I feel positively young and in decent shape. As Dave pointed out, how would I feel in a gay hotel surrounded by slim, young twinks looking down on us with disdain. A great example of the value of being a big fish in a small pond.

But on a wider context, it is interesting to be an older gay man in the wonderfully hedonistic gay world of Gran Can. Peacocks strut about in the sun to be admired and some are beautiful. My favourite is a Spanish man at our hotel who I think is very sexy but he doesn’t even know I exist.

My friend Dom once said that as gay men get older, they turn into glass. And I know exactly what he means. We may think we still look good but the young and beautiful look right through us. No point in being angry or upset about it. I can remember being 18 and arguing with someone much older than me that being in your 30s made you middle aged.

Male body image

Nuevo Rokoko lives

Good news in that in my previous blog I had reported that our favourite coffee shop Nuevo Rokoko had gone – read about it here. Well, rumours of its demise have been much exaggerated. Basically I was telling John and Chris (see previous blog) about it going. They recommended a new ‘Bear cafe’ nearby. The place I knew as a Scandinavian cafe. Popped along there and it’s where Nuevo Rokoko has moved to. All the same staff and a great place to chill. Me and Dave go there daily.

Cup of coffee

Dealing with local bugs and hangovers

A patch of illness at beginning of week with a slight temperature and the glands in my neck very tender. Went away after a couple of days but it’s a classic case of picking up a local infection. I always think holidays are very much about dealing with local bugs which we haven’t got immunity to yet.

Though on Thurs morning I woke with a terrible headache. I laid there and thought ‘Have I had a stroke?’ Moved all my body parts OK so I decided it was just a hangover. Got out of bed for paracetamol. Really not sure why it came on as I hadn’t drunk that much the night before. Probably a combination of sun and alcohol. As I try to tell myself, what doesn’t kill us teaches us

My slow recovery

Games

Definite trend for this holiday has been the number of people playing card games. It’s become normal again. Seen a big bridge group at our hotel as well as various couples and groups mainly sitting in the evening in the bar playing cards. Wonderfully old fashioned and brings back so many memories of when I went on holiday with my family.

Meanwhile, me and Dave continue our grudge match air hockey battle. Currently he is winning 10.5 to 6.5.

People come and go through your life

John and Chris left this week. I mentioned them in my previous blog. Great to see them and I hope we see them again in the sun next year. But you never know and it is fascinating how people can come into and out of our lives. Meanwhile, we met with a new couple in the next room, Mike and Dave. An older gay couple with plenty of stories to tell.

Folks back home

Whilst me and Dave have been sunning ourselves we have not forgotten about the folks back home we care about. Dave’s mum seems to be doing OK and very much enjoyed going out to a family party. Patrick seems to also be doing OK. Though it annoys me when service providers make appointments to visit and cancel sometimes without even bothering to tell him.

I phone mum everyday and she is doing alright. But she doesn’t like the ‘cold weather’ and tells me how weary she feels. As such she is not going out of the flat unless she really has to. I worry about her becoming housebound but then don’t all older people at some point? I will take her out to some places on my return.

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

C S Lewis

I am making my way through my big holiday reading pile. There is a slant towards sci-fi simply because I enjoy reading this. In particular, retro sci-fi as it is fascinating to see what people some decades ago thought the world would be like in the future.

‘Aztec Century’ by Christopher Evans

A cracking piece of speculative fiction. It’s set in an alternate world where the Aztecs weren’t destroyed but rather became the dominant political and cultural force on the planet. The story itself is centred on the British royal family and that’s a bit twee but it’s an adventure read.

What is interesting is that several things are predicted correctly. The ability to hack computer systems and manipulate them through malware. As well as a nod to AI and the importance of renewable energy sources. But there are thing that will probably stay in sci-fi land such as floating cars (isn’t Trump promising to make these happen?)

The internet is not mentioned but the assumption is that it exists. However, as with so much retro sci-fi, the centrality of mobile phones is missed. And there are wonderful ‘old skool’ touches such as recordings stored on reels of tape.

‘The Exiles Trilogy’ by Ben Bova

Ben Bova is one of the great 20th century sci-fi writers. I remember ‘discovering’ him at school. Thought provoking but accessible. I am determined to go back and read much more of his prodigious catalogue. Though I am not the person I was 40 years ago and some of his stuff feels a bit more pedestrian now but still bloody good fun.

Obviously, three books make up this trilogy. Written in the 1970s and reminiscent of that time. Particularly with some of the references and themes but also very much with the casual sexism! There is a lazy assumption (as in so much sci-fi) that relatively fast space travel has been invented. And the whole trilogy really sits in the ‘space opera’ genre.

In the first book we find a group of scientists exiled from Earth. This is due to the threat they pose of manipulating genetics to create superhumans and shatter the fragile planetary peace that exists. In many ways perhaps the most humane thing to do.

The characters change completely for each part of the trilogy as each generation is frozen and the genetically created new offspring take charge. The second book puts central the issue of whether to accept an imperfect option or carry on searching for better. Both ways are challenging. The final book takes us to a place centuries after the original journey began. The purpose of it has been lost and a very different society exists.

Phobos

‘Him’ by Geoff Ryman

Not sci-fi in itself, but an speculative fiction book by a well-known sci-fi writer. It’s the retelling of the gospel with an emphasis on gender. Jesus is actually a girl who grows up as a boy. It’s very revealing how this is dealt with and I am sure the arguments and tension are reflected in families today where a young person decides to change their identity.

But it’s a more sophisticated book than the life of Jesus as a trans person. Central is a challenge to the way Christianity sanitises the life of Christ. Did he really never sin or have sexual feelings? If so then why does his gender matter and why should God have or need a gender?

The book was also noticeable to me for two other key reasons. First, Mary as is the mother is central and so much of the story is about her and her feelings. Second, the book very persuasively conjures up what life in Judea during Roman times was like: desolation, dust, and endless theological arguing.

But, overall, the book fundamentally has a message that is very uncomfortable to most Christians. Not that Jesus’ gender matters but rather that Jesus’ message is acutely radical and anti-capitalist. The failure of the vast majority of Christians to live out this radical anti-materialist message of Jesus reflects why I don’t bother with much of what organised religion says.

‘Bath Haus’ by P J Vernon

So it’s not all sci-fi. This book is a very recent gay thriller and, on the face of it, it really is very much a whodunit? But it’s more than that.

The beginning point is an act of infidelity by a gay man in a supposed closed relationship – a trip to the local gay sauna. The repercussions of this spiral out of control in a frankly melodramatic and not very realistic way helped by some characters who are a bit two dimensional. I think the book could have been improved by giving some of these people more voice as to their perspective on events.

However, there are some really interesting themes going on. The whole issue of infidelity in relationships is fascinating. As is the dominant issue here of control. Including new methods available with technology and social media. The anti-hero of the book is controlled and manipulated in some very clever ways including by those he loves. And there’s that old nugget of dealing with addiction which comes in many forms.

recovery

Gym: Making do

Missing my London gym but making do with the smaller hotel gym. As I said in my previous blog, it is smaller and less modern. However, it does have some equipment I haven’t used for a while. I am trying to get to the hotel gym every other day so that equalled 3 times in the past week with one visit to go before we leave. Particularly nice to be able to use a rowing machine again which always feels like such a good all-round way to exercise.

Weight: Fingers crossed

I have always said that I find it easier to not eat when I am in the sun. And I feel I have successfully tried to reduce my food intake. However, it’s not always healthy food I am eating. And I’m not getting in the number of steps I do in London lying on the lounger all day.

Plus there’s plenty of alcohol. I can officially say that my drinks of this holiday have been Aperol Spritz, Vino Rosado, and Sex on the Beach. Dave’s were Coke Zero and Mimosa (champagne + OJ). Weight-wise, all I can do is keep my fingers crossed that I find the damage isn’t too bad when I return home.

animation of a fat man running

My Spanish efforts continue

As with last week, I continue to do my daily Duolingo. And I continue to try out my Spanish as opportunities arrive. Which is mainly in ordering food and drinks. I keep trying to phrase sentences in my head but I realise how little I know. And listening to Spanish people is frustrating as they speak so fast and possibly with regional accents; the same for people who speak English.

Spanish flag

QPR: Movement in the right direction

Regular blog readers will know the fortunes of my team impact on my mood and feelings. Even whilst I am lazing in the sun, I am keeping tabs on how things are going. Indeed, I was listening to the Saturday results whilst in the hotel gym then watched Final Score in the hotel room.

A strategic win against Blackburn. And almost all the other teams we needed to lose did indeed do so. Apart from Huddersfield who smashed Sheffield Wednesday 4-0. We are still in the relegation zone but some other teams have sunk down towards it. Shame that the season is just about survival and gloating in the failure of others but that’s life.

Change opportunity

  • The countdown to the end of our holiday has begun. Life in the sun ends on Wednesday. Will we be here next year? Who knows. But we enjoyed it and had a good rest before returning to ‘normality’.
  • Plan is London gym on Thursday and gym or swim on Friday. Plus the dreaded weigh-in.
  • Be good to see mum and Patrick again. I’ll be taking mum out for some shopping I suspect.
  • Reading will continue albeit not at the pace I was able to do on holiday. Currently reading a very good non-fiction book on one year in the life of Shakespeare.

Don’t cry because it’s over, be happy because it happened

Stunning half naked man - how could you not smile?

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