Games People Play: Patrick Hughes, 58, artist

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SWIMMING SEEMS to be the game I play. I've been doing it most days since 1976. For some years I used to count the laps, and then a fellow swimmer said: "Why bother, because you can always swim for half an hour." So I no longer count and it's a great relief. People ask how many laps I've done, and I don't know.

There's a lot of equipment needed for swimming. I've got prescription goggles so that I can see under the water. And I wear nose clips, because chlorine makes you sneeze, and earplugs because I once got dizzy. And I have to put Vaseline on my legs, because chlorine attacks your skin eventually.

I swim at the Broadgate Club, a beautiful place which is meant for City types. They all come in suits and, being an artist, I have to change out of my paint-stained T-shirt and trousers, and get dressed up to go to the pool in case they look down their noses at me. Swimming is a lonely game, but I've got a lot of pals amongst the staff and the members, and I sometimes get a kiss from friends.

I've only ever had one verruca. But I often catch athlete's foot. So as a preventive measure, I sprinkle my feet with athlete's foot powder, even when I haven't got it. And then I always feel that everyone in the changing-room is looking at me and thinking: "Ooh, he's the one with athlete's foot". But in point of fact, I'm preventing it.

It's ever so nice swimming. I don't know what to say about it. I think that it washes all the cares away. Sometimes, if you look carefully at the edges of the pool, you can see the little cares and troubles bobbing there.

Patrick Hughes's paintings are on show at Flowers East (0181-985 3333), 199-205 Richmond Road, London E8, from 25 September to 25 October

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