Wednesday, 20 March 2019
THERE, I’ve said it. It has taken a long time (nearly 30 years or so), but I’ve finally come out of the beach changing cupboard and said it.
Or should that be stayed inside the beach closet, with a nice tall glass of soda water and a slice of lime, fan blowing cool air into my face, comfy chair, perfect for snoozing in, out of the bright, burning, unflattering sun?
Don’t get me wrong, I used to love the summer when I was a kid, spending every day and sometimes the night having swimming sessions at our local pool in Adelaide.
But even then the water wasn’t the main draw, it was the boys, the ice blocks, pies and pasties (I already had an eye for fine food) and the distinct lack of parents (helicopter parents or even occasionally-present parents being unheard of in the Eighties).
I was reminded of those days when we went to the river yesterday with another mum and her kids.
There we were, me sitting in the shade, her starfished on the grass, saluting the sun, watching the kids gambol about in the water like puppies.
And then Cookie jumped in to cool off, frightening both the fish and me in the process.
“Get him out! He can’t swim!” I shouted at the Sunshiney Seven-Year-Old boy.
“I can’t, he’s too slippery!’ he shouted back.
Imagine my joy as I raced (lumbered) over to the riverbank to haul out the dog. Not only was he slippery, he weighs a ton, too, so my rarely-used muscles got quite the workout as I grabbed his collar and yanked for all I was worth. But I got him out.
Obviously, he’s a completely bonkers Irish setter, so he jumped in again two minutes later. I left him to it, so the mum and I could chat.
“Do you like wild swimming?” the mum asked, innocently enough.
“Good God, no!”
“I grew up wild swimming,” she went on. “And I still love it. The feel of the Thames on your skin and the freedom — there’s nothing not to like.”’
Except, perhaps, the two things she’d just mentioned:
1. The Thames on your skin? What a revolting thought. We all know what fish, swans, ducks and geese do in there for a start.
2. And the freedom? No light blue tiled walls to clamber out on to, no markers of how deep the water is in a particular spot, no lifeguards to watch over you and no buckets of chlorine to nuke all the kids’ wee?
Okay, so there are no skanky, sodden changing rooms with used plasters surfing on the crest of a wave of grossness that greets you at the cubicle doors of a pool, either.
But while I admit sitting in the shade by the river is not without its charms, there’s no need to actually go in it. Such flagrant disregard for all those public swimming pools our councils have worked so hard to make so appealing!
And what’s wrong with a hose, a sprinkler or a paddling pool in the garden? Works as well on Cookie as it does the kids, I find.
And in the privacy of my own home, I might even be more inclined to jettison my elasticated, baggy harem pants for a nifty little (stretch) swimming cossie myself.
Because when we jumped into our large, cool bath last night and I washed the Thames out of the Sunshiney Seven-Year-Old boy’s hair, I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t leave Australia for this!’
But that’s another story…
15 September 2017
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