I wake up too early for a Sunday. I haven't slept well, my shoulder aches and my back feels stiff. I dreamt in the night of a visit to the doctor; in my dream, as I went through the list of all the things wrong, he just kept cutting bits out of me.
As I sit drinking the tea I've brought back to bed, I'm feeling grumpy and sorry for myself, not helped by the knowledge that I can't sit here for long, that we've got a busy day ahead. I scroll through the Twitter feed on my phone, where everyone seems wittier and happier than me, then I see a Tweet from my friend Nathan. I like him enormously, but today I just can't see anything but smug in the message from his holiday in Greece:
"Today, almost in its entirety, is going to be spent loafing by the pool and reading books. It's the day of rest after all."
"Pah" I think, reluctantly swinging my legs over the side of the bed, turning my head from side to side and pulling my shoulders back in a vain attempt to get rid of the lingering ache.
I head for the bathroom and turn on the shower. It's not one of those with automatic controls, and I've been trying to work out, ever since we moved here, just how many turns of the tap will give the right temperature. Hot tap on full, cold turned twice and a little bit more; I think I've got it. I brush my teeth while I wait for it to warm up. From the bedroom comes the sound of the music that Philip turned up as soon as I'd left the room, but with the sound of the shower and my electric toothbrush going full pelt, it's no more than a faint, indistinct noise. Faint and indistinct, that's a bit how I feel.
In the shower, it's the same, mindless routine as every day, but just for once the water temperature is exactly right. It's warm, melting; I let it run over my shoulders and I start to relax. Then I reach up to rinse the shampoo from my hair, lifting it this way and that to help the water reach the roots, and suddenly I'm reminded of a different shower, a long time ago.
I'm on a beach in Lindos, Rhodes. It's August and the sun is at its very hottest. I've been in the sea, floating on the gently rocking waves, lying on my back looking towards the beach, feeling the sun on my face, with my long, long hair floating out behind me. When I leave the water I make my way to the showers at the top of the beach. The shower is icy cold, but on this bright August day it doesn't matter. Nothing does.
I reach up to rinse the salt and sand from my hair, lifting it this way and that to help the water reach the roots. I'm in my mid-thirties, a mother of four children, but I've slipped away with my very best friend for a week of nothing but sunshine and laughter. My hair is glossy, my skin a golden brown, I'm tall and slim and happy. When I turn off the shower and walk back to our sunbeds I sense that other people are watching me and for a precious moment I don't care at all. I feel good and I know I look good too, and on that day, there's not a single thing I'd change about my life.
And today, just for a moment, as I feel the water trickling down my back warming me through, I feel the aches and the years slip away. Then I turn off the water and step out of the shower, and just for a moment I'm tall and slim and beautiful.