July 17, 2005

Massacre in the swimming pool

I am not best known for my maternal feelings. My attitude to children in general could probably be summed up in a sentence as 'Ahh, that's nice… keep it away from me, please.' Don't get me wrong, I have no aversion to children as a species; I'll hold sleeping babies quite happily until they wake up and start drooling/spitting/crying/peeing/projectile vomiting, and the odd spot of babysitting if a child hasn't had too many E numbers/is feeling like they want to go on a doll dismembering spree is fine. However, anything that involves closer contact than that is liable to send me running for the hills, or at least finding a happy place in my head to visit until the trauma is past. I would even go so far to say that the noise of children playing is actually a pleasant background noise, as long as you're not close enough to realise that they're actually vicious little bastards shouting 'die! die! die!' at each other.

To sum up, I do appreciate the need for their existence, as long as they don't have to exist too near me.

So imagine my distress, gentle reader, to arrive at the local swimming pool to find it teeming with foam floats, abandoned goggles, and children clonking each other over the head with punctured arm bands, screaming. It was kind of like an 17th century sea battle in minature without the attractive men in boots and britches – or maybe that's just because I've been exposed to too much Hornblower recently*. It was Sunday morning at the swimming pool. I should have realised. I felt the way I did when I was travelling home at the perilous hour of 3.40pm, and a whole school of year 9s with dripping fizzy drinks and not enough deodorant swarmed the bus.

I should have admitted defeat then and there. I should have just turned round, gone back out dry and safe, and pretended that my swimsuit was actually just the newest haute couture in gym wear. But I didn't. Like a small fisherman desperate to get home to feed his family in the middle of a great sea battle, I took a deep breath and entered the fray.

I managed a length. I passed a boy forcibly drowning his sister by the pigtails, three girls trying to board an enemy float, two howling babies being thrown in the air by their fathers, and also successfully avoided being kicked by a multitude of flailing limbs, though I had a number of near misses. When I got to the end of the pool, one father spending quality time with a little girl also tried what I think was a chat up line** but then his daughter tried to strangle him with a pair of goggles and I made my escape, to the bubbling sanity of the 'over 18s ONLY' jacuzzi, which, unsurprisingly, was completely deserted.

So, from my private throne, I watched in safety the massacre that followed, kind of like Queen Elizabeth viewing her armada (am I taking this analogy a little far? I think so). I left before the midday whistle and the body count could begin, and the mothers who had desperately tried to keep their hair dry and failed started to drag their offspring from the scene of the incident.

So, the moral of the story? Don't go swimming on a Sunday morning. Children are vicious. And a leetle bit evil and scary.

However, they can also be lovely and charming, and when my friends start reproducing this will be my official line. I also have a horrible suspicion that one day, when my biological clock has done a few more turns, I too will develop a doe-eyed smile, and will become one of those surveying the massacre and surrendering my hairdo with the patient and gentle resignation of one who loves children.

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*Ioan Gruffudd and Sam "you will always be Caspian to me" West in the same period drama. Does it get any better, I ask you? Robert Lindsay was also in it, if that's what floats your boat+.

** On me. Not the little girl. Because that would just be wrong. Not that him hitting on me wasn't slightly odd. Why do I always seem to end up in these situations?

+ Horrible pun. Not intended. I apologise.


- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Rosalind Hook

    My god – this sounds like a profoundly traumatising experience – the kind that could give you nightmares for weeks, perhaps even years. Congratulations for escaping unscathed and hope that you succeed in obliterating these vile pernicious memories from your consciousness as soon as possible.

    18 Jul 2005, 14:49

  2. i know how you feel.
    not quite with all the period drama but yes i appreciate how you feel.

    24 Jul 2005, 16:36


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