Honestly. You just couldn't make it up, it's so ridiculous. Apparently, a new law has just been issued in Portugal that states that, from 1 January 2005, anyone who wishes to use a public swimming pool must provide the ticket clerk with a medical certificate, signed by a doctor, confirming that they have no communicable diseases, and that they are not about to shuffle off this mortal coil. It is not clear if this certificate is only needed once, or if people are expected to make a doctor's appointment every time they feel like doing a few lengths - just in case they might have the Lurgy without knowing it. What the already overstretched medical services think of this new duty is not known, although the people who rely on the public health service ought to start making appointments now, because it will be spring by the time they get to see a doctor. It seems all the more ridiculous when you consider that today Charles told me that while he was having his daily swim, the 'lifeguard' was sitting on the edge of the pool, with her feet dangling in the water, whilst playing around with a CD player that was plugged into the mains! Perhaps they should ask swimming pool staff to provide a doctor's certificate confirming that they have more than just mince and chewing-gum in the space between their ears! This piece of ill-thought out bureaucracy is going to cause me problems - for I don't have a Portuguese doctor, and I can just picture my overstretched GP's face when I ask him to give me a certificate that will enable me to use Portuguese public swimming pools, and I'm damn sure that I'm not going to pay the British Embassy 50 euros to have the certificate translated and notarised just so I can prove to someone, who is willing to fool about with mains powered electrical appliances at the side of a swimming pool, that I am not a public health risk. Still, this provided me with some light relief from the tedious article that I have to translate!