Even though the bank holiday is officially over, we are still experiencing some alarmingly biblical weather, and I do wonder whether, with the General Election due to blight all our lives even further than it already has for the last six months tomorrow, it perhaps signals the end of days?
I am trying to avoid the news in all its forms, as what with that and the arrival of a royal baby, I am sorely tried as to which news segment will drive me to insanity first. It is at times like this that lack of patriotism, utter disinterest in inbred aristocrats who we pay to have their faces digitally printed onto mugs and an total disenchantment with the political system that claims to represent me, drives me to drink.
Instead of getting morally outraged with just about everything on the planet I cannot control, I am channelling my rage into the swimming pool, where it seems, like my intolerance of half witted theatre goers, my intolerance of half assed swimmers knows no bounds.
The problem with my local pool, apart from the hairy tiled floors and toilets, is that it is a community based entity which caters to all and sundry. When I get to be world dictator, things will be very different.
I have no problem with community based entities. I applaud the availability of communal sports facilities, libraries, etc. I think they’re brilliant. At one and the same time I also find myself driven to distraction by them when I come to use them.
As an ordinary adult, there are only certain times of the day when I can swim. I can go between 7,00 and 9.00 a.m. which is of course hopeless if you are required to do a school run. This is a shame, because this is pretty much the only time the pool gets laned so that swimmers of different abilities and skill sets do not continuously run into each other. It is also quieter, because not many loons want to get up that early.
I can swim between 12.00 and 1.30 p.m. on most week days should I wish to. There is one lane at this time, the rest of the pool is a gigantic free for all. The one lane seems to be taken up with the world’s slowest swimmers. I do not have a problem with this except that it precludes me from using it because I am not as slow as the slowest swimmers and forever find myself bumping into people.
Then I can swim from half three until some point in the evening. Pool access is restricted because this is when swimming lessons take place. It also allows for the free flow of child swimmers.
The weekends are a bear pit of free swimming, made more congested by endless swimming lessons which require various parts of the pool to be roped off, seemingly at random.
Because of this organisation, or the lack thereof, you are compelled as a community swimmer, to learn certain pool etiquette. This would be fine if everyone adhered to this etiquette, except, of course, they don’t.
Hence you get the people who insist on swimming back stroke in a crowded pool. Because they cannot see you coming, you spend your entire swim either being nutted by them, or desperately trying to swim around them before they mow you down.
Then you get the people who cannot stay in a straight line, or lane, and veer wildly about so you’re not sure if you’re going to hit them or not. It’s a bit like driving into oncoming rabbits or sheep. You simply cannot predict which way they will scatter.
Then you get the pretend swimmers. These are the swimmers who make me want to commit murder. There are several types of pretend swimmers:
Ladies of a certain age who want to swim very gently without getting their hair/makeup/jewellery wet, and tut at you if you splash past them. Despite the fact that they have nearly their entire upper body out of the water, they still, in general, have a very poor sense of direction, and/or a total disregard for getting out of the way of serious swimmers.
People who go to the pool merely to chat. These drive me nearly as mental as the swimmers who don’t want to get wet. Why would you spend £4 of your hard earned money to come and stand up to your nipples in cold water and chat to someone for an hour? If these people do a length in that time it is a miracle. They tend to stand in clumps, much like in the aisles of supermarkets, blocking the way, and deliberately not looking at you, even though they can see you coming towards them, because they don’t want to move at all. I have the same utter bewilderment about these people as I do with those people who go to the cinema to chat and look at their phones. It is not cheap to do this. Why not stay at home?
The people who see you coming and then randomly dart into your lane, even though they have been stationary for the last forty five minutes, clinging onto the side of the pool for grim death. These people generally swim sideways, for reasons best known to themselves. I would say it was due to a fear of not being able to put their feet on the ground, except you get these darters at the deep end as well. They cause utter mayhem for the three and a half minutes it takes to cross the pool and then wait another forty five minutes before repeating the process in reverse and getting out again.
The people who pretend to swim but have their feet on the ground the entire time. These people take up extraordinary amounts of room. This is usually because they pretend with their upper body to do breast stroke, but in the hope that you don’t notice that they have their feet on the ground and are merely pretending to swim, they make hugely exaggerated arm movements which can take out entire villages in one swipe.
I will not mention the children who back flip on top of you, or who do hand stands in your path, or the people with babies who don’t use the baby pool.
I am very, very good. I do not shout. I do not barge or push. Occasionally, if someone is being extremely and gratuitously stupid/rude I will say ‘excuse me’ in a tone of withering British contempt, for which the only true translation would be: ‘Please go away and die horribly.’
I take pleasure in the fact that I am sure that my relentless ploughing up and down the pool in the fashion it is meant to be used drives these leisure swimmers absolutely mad.