Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Naked men or Bali?

I spend the afternoon wishing I was swimming. This has to be a pretty bad afternoon, even by my standards. In fact, it is so bad that by 5pm I am reminding myself about the actual benefits of sitting in someone else's bathwater. That would be, I reason, far better than waiting five hours for Shark, Squirrel and Tiger to come out of the pool so we can all go home.

Waiting, in this instance, means the horrible realisation five minutes after arriving at the pool viewing area, that I have forgotten to bring a book. There is nothing to do. I tell myself, in wilful self-delusion, that Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are unlikely to spend more than an hour in the pool, so I could amuse myself by making idle conversation with a stranger about whether they sell crisps here, and then pacing up and down.

After twenty minutes doing that, I then spend the next four hours in the dense and humid atmosphere of the 'Beachside cafe'. After two hours, and with no sign of Shark, Squirrel or Tiger, who presumably have taken themselves off to the bit of the pool called 'beach oasis' or something similar, I give in and go up to the coffee bar and inquire about the coffee. Is it freshly ground? I ask. Nikki, who stands behind the till with half-closed eyes and a vacant expression on her face that looks like her brain was removed for disposal last Wednesday, barely flickers a glance to register my question before shifting her chewing gum over to the other cheek, swallowing, and replying dreamily, Nah. Instant.

By 4pm, my face looks like Nikki's and, like her, I make my own amusement. I imagine that in the middle distance, probably some way between the water slide and the plastic palm tree, there may be a concealed entrance to a mythical male changing room where naked men travel backwards in time to refresh themselves Roman style in a plunge pool. From the little I have read of physics, time holes emerging from the fabric of the universe should be a possible occurrence and may indeed be happening in a swimming pool near you. But only if you keep watching. The space behind the plastic palm seems as good a place as any for this to occur and anyway, the fantasy keeps me quiet, stops me accosting complete strangers for chatting purposes, and knocks 30 minutes off the waiting time. Until a wet woggle hits me at the side of the face and Squirrel emerges. Are you coming out? I ask eagerly, jumping up. No she shouts, and then, look after my woggle. That's the only sign of Squirrel for another 45 minutes, so I go back to staring at the plastic palm, and wishing.

Of course I should have been wiser. Before setting out to take Shark, Squirrel and Tiger for their PE lesson (let's call it that, and not 'Fooling About at the Leisure Pool'), I should have checked exactly what is so special about this place, and why everyone from around here jumps in cars to travel to it. I see immediately on entry. Compared to the local sluice we frequent, where on a good day you may avoid the poo, but on a bad day will be enveloped by floating snot, this is a palace.

For a start, the woman on Swimming Pool Reception wears a smart polyester blouse, doesn't have nicotine stained fingers or bleached hair and doesn't, as she glances up to clock us coming, stop mid-flow in a stream of effing-and-blinding to take a sharp breath inwards, and then start off again. This place is definitely upmarket. Not only does it have Doreen in a polyester blouse and the Beachside Cafe, it also has a water slide, plastic palm trees, fake rain, a pool with Jacuzzis and rivers built in, and a wave machine. This last item has to be one of the most intriguing things to have entered Grit's meagre world since she saw the panther on Monday and conjured up a naked Roman athlete at 3.30.

Oh girl of the shires, I can imagine you say, do you not know of wave machines? We have them everywhere in our upmarket cities, possibly even in Sainsbury's. But it is the first time I have ever seen one, and despite myself, I find I'm agreeing with Shark, Squirrel and Tiger on the way home, Yes, the waves are amazing! They've kept Shark, Squirrel and Tiger in delirious excitement and in the pool for nigh on five hours. The staff set the machine going every 30 minutes. Then you can grab a surfboard and pretend you're off the coast of Bali.

Next time, given the choice of a five-hour wait alongside Nikki in the Beachside Cafe, with the sadly dwindling hope of finding naked men fresh from the plunge pool, I may just choose to go swimming with Shark, Squirrel and Tiger, and be in Bali.

7 comments:

Maggie May said...

Oh, I did enjoy that post!
Nothing worse than forgetting a book. It can drive you mad. The only thing to do on an occasion like that is to people watch or to write the next post in your head, which you obviously did!
At least you know that the triplets are safe! If anything went wrong with one, you would get one of the others to get assistance.
You will look back on these wonderful years..... Or you may well be over run with grand children! Just think if each daughter had triplets!!!!!!

Retiredandcrazy said...

In my day I have spent endless useless hours waiting for children, grandchildren and now greatgrandchildren. There are several options:

don't forget the book, an option that you are already familiar with;

swim amoungst the pee with them, not to be recommended;

get a BlackBerry and have some geek set it up so that you can blog the hours away, finding the right the geek might be a problem;

or show them which pub you will be in tell them to ring you when they're finished. I would go for the latter.

Still, look on the bright side, only 7/9? more years of this!

Minnie said...

Ay..you did well:o) I don't swim, I spectate and the last time I took my lot on such an activity I fell asleep while they frolicked in the water with all that water slide/wave machine stuff. ( It's so hot in these places that it's bound to send a bored onlooker with no gossipy mag on hand to the land of nod).

I was put off swimming when, as a child, nasty teacher let my head go under water and I ended up swallowing copious amounts of icky swimming pool water...this was in the days when it was common place to see cockroaches floating about in the water. Just imagine if I'd swallowed one of those? Ick!!!!

Potty Mummy said...

God, I thought waiting at the poolside for Boy #1 for 40 minutes was bad, but 5 HOURS!!!!

(Think long line of expletives and you've pretty much covered my reaction to that possibility...)

girl with the mask said...

After five whole hours weren't they shrivelled up to about half the size of what they were before they went in?!

Kelly Jene said...

I love wave pools! Those are so much fun. But to be without a book, oh Lord, help me! I'm glad you survived it to see another day.

Grit said...

hi maggie may, when i'm cross with them i sometimes utter the line 'May you have triplets!' oh dear!

hello retiredandcrazy, i have taken to shoving my mobile phone down my bootleg, because i can never find it in my bag. i could stuff a book down the left side.

oh dear, minnie, that it a yuek story and may put me off for life!

potty mummy, there are sacrifices beyond measure in this home ed life. i consider the options daily.

gwtm, that would be useful. i could stuff them all in a bag to carry home.

hi kelly jene! i've survived, but only just. next time i'll be wiser.