Sometimes it’s infinitely entertaining to be a fly on the wall [or water, as it were] in the hot pot at the Laugardalslaug swimming pool in Reykjavík.
As loyal readers will know, Iceland’s hot pots serve the same social function as, say, the English pub or the Turkish teahouse. People gather together in the hot pots to discuss current events, or the weather, or whatever subjects happen to occupy the mind at any given time. Moreover, they tend to have groups that congregate there at specific times, like f’rinstance at 7am, before punters head off for work. There are even special names for these groups of individuals – pottverjar, or ‘hot pot comrades’.
Now, loyal readers will also know that YT likes to head down to the Laugardalslaug pool after her bi-weekly [or thereabouts] massage, to catch a little bit of extra R&R. By that time it is inevitably late afternoon and there is a very particular group of men that hang out in the pots at that time: old retired seafarers. Eavesdropping on their conversations can be priceless. Like today.
HOT-POT CHRONICLES, TAKE ONE
Retired seaman enters hot pot and plunks himself down beside geriatric seaman who has been lackadaisically blowing his nose into the water. However, on becoming aware of YT’s hawk-like stare, he apparently has decided to refrain from emptying his nostrils full out.
Retired seaman [to Geriatric nose-blowing seaman]: Hello! How’s it going…
Geriatric seaman: [Hoarse voice.] Good. I don’t see anyone here, though. Where is everyone?
RS: Oh, they’re around, they’re around. I was speaking to T in the showers just now – you know T?
RS: He’s a pediatrician. It’s good to know people like that. Now that we’re regressing back into childhood, hahaha!
[YT instantly envisions nose-blowing episode]
GS: [Sees another hot pot comrade approaching…] There’s the plumber*…
RS: The plumber?
GS: [Points] Him.
RS: I thought he was a carpenter.
GS: No, he’s a plumber
Plumber settles down into water next to YT, who is now sitting smack between RS and Plumber. YT maintains a stony expression, pretending not to hear.
Plumber: [Annoyed] No need to do a roll call.
GS: Nothing wrong with being a plumber. Nothing to be ashamed of.
P: [To GS] So how’s it going?
GS: Fine. Fine. Just disappointed you’re no longer in my neighbourhood. Could use a good tradesman every now and again…
P: No, I’ve moved. Living up in [insert name of street in Reykjavík subdivision].
P: Yeah. The woman keeps selling the roof over my head.
P: Yeah. I tell you, I’m lucky I get to tag along.
P: Yeah. The last time she gave away half the furniture. I’m lucky I didn’t become obsolete along the way.
GS: [Grave] Yes, that’s lucky.
All make concurring noises. There is a pause as all reflect on the Plumber’s good fortune.
RS: You’re lucky, at least, that you have a woman.
GS: Have you seen [X] around? He’s got a new woman.
RS: No. Haven’t seen him in a while. [Pause] I’ve been meaning to ask him how he did it.
GS: Did what?
RS: Got himself a woman.
… And so on.
Infinitely entertaining. And all for the bargain price of ISK 190 [USD 3/GBP 1.70] for pool admission.
It’s early Saturday am [very early] and the storm we were threatened with yesterday never materialized. Which means it may well materialize today. Which is bad news because I plan to go for a run. And may well be blown out to sea, or alternatively have a rock tossed from the sea that may well hit me on the head. Which will definitely not be lucky. Temps are 5°C [I thought it was s’posed to get colder at night?] and sunrise was at 11.07, sunset 15.34.
* Not to be confused with the Immortal Plumber who knew everything about everything.