Swimming.

lady in bathing costume (stewart woolf)Whenever my kids mention swimming, I’m filled with a sense of dread. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with swimming per se, in fact, I rather like the activity itself. Perhaps I should clarify – it’s swimming in public places that I don’t like.  I have rational reasons for this… honest:

1. Swimming costumes. Why can’t I wear a Victorian bathing suit? Why do I have to have my pasty, sun-starved, resembles-a-pound-of-tripe thighs on show? Why does my saggy, kangaroo pouch of a tummy have to be on display for everyone’s scrutiny. Why does some perfect specimen of supermodel have to walk out of the changing rooms and into the pool just in front of me, emerging poolside seconds before to display me at my absolute worst just by direct comparison? Please, some fashionista take pity on me and bring back the full body bathing suit, I’m sure you’d be the saviour of self-conscious women everywhere.

2. Why does every lifeguard have to be a sneering teenage boy? And can’t they have some sort of mandatory training that enables them to prevent themselves retching when a particularly lardy specimen of womanhood passes by their big tall stool thingy? All that’s lacking is a scoreboard and my humiliation would be complete.

3. Hair. Why did God have to cover us in hair in ridiculous places that only needs shaving/ waxing/ ripping out in the most unimaginably painful way? And why do you always, always, miss a bit during the de-fuzz process, usually in the most obvious, visible place, so that when you discover your horrific oversight, you have to negotiate poolside practically crossed legged the whole time.  And please, nobody swim by me underwater with their eyes open…

4. Chlorine. Otherwise known as chemical warfare.

5. Lockers. Everything I own will be stolen whilst I’m in the pool, my identity will be cloned by some drugs baron in Columbia and I’ll be on Crimewatch next week.  Just as I dish up fishfingers to my kids, my cloned alterego will be conducting an illegal military coup in a small, barely known principality just left of Tanzania. Just after the washing up is done, a crack team of SAS soldiers will swing into my house and take me to a top security military prison. No amount of pleading ‘I was watching Eastenders when the president was being assassinated’ will persuade them of my innocence.

So there it is…. swimming.

‘Mum, can we go swimming today?’

‘Sure, sweetie, just after I chew my own arm off…’

Babysitting

monkeys-27650336It’s Tuesday morning and noticing that I’ve run out of leg wax while brushing my teeth reminds me of something very important that I need leg wax for. Mr T is having breakfast. Actually, he’s reading the paper while his breakfast goes cold and the time he has to get ready for work passes him by. In about five minutes from now he’ll run around swearing and hopping to get shoes on. Why he doesn’t just get up five minutes before he goes out to work and use all this time to have a lie in I’ll never know. The end result would be the same and he’d get to work fresh as a daisy instead of having a face like last night’s kebab.

‘You know it’s Lizzie’s wedding this weekend, don’t you?’ I take a seat at the table and shake the teapot. As usual, there’s none left.

Mr T looks at me over his newspaper. ‘Are you feeling alright?’

‘Of course. Apart from the fact that I’m parched and there’s no tea in the pot. Why?’

‘Because Lizzie’s wedding was last month.’

‘No, that was her hand-fasting.’ I correct him. ‘This weekend is her official wedding.’

‘Oh,’ Mr T puts the paper back to his face. ‘I wondered why we were standing in a forest with a load of hippies,’ he says from behind it.

‘They’re not hippies, they practise Wicca.’

‘They looked like hippies to me.’

‘So did you ask your parents if they’d babysit?’ I reply, ignoring the insult he has just hurled at my best friend and her future husband and all their friends.

‘The last time my parents babysat, if you remember, they said that although they loved the children dearly, they would both rather pickle their own heads than babysit ever again.’

‘Did they?’ I ask, remembering vaguely that they did look somewhat harassed last time we relieved them of babysitting duty. ‘It’s not like we ask them very often,’ I add defensively. ‘Once in a blue moon wouldn’t kill them.’

‘The half cellar of salt that Esme put in my dad’s tea last time might though.’

‘She did that by accident. She said the top fell off as she was reaching for some crisps from the kitchen cupboard.’

‘Hmph,’ Mr T says. He doesn’t speak for a moment, and then, ‘I don’t think stapling his shoelaces to the laminate flooring was an accident though.’

‘He shouldn’t go to sleep when he’s supposed to be looking after them, then.’

‘He wasn’t asleep, Ingrid had him in a headlock while Esme did the stapling.’

‘Don’t be ridiculous, Ingrid is seven-years-old.’

‘She has a surprisingly firm grip.’

‘What was your mum doing?’

‘She was asleep, after that box of Nytol went in her cup of tea.’

‘I wondered where they had gone.’

I can’t see him raise his eyebrows because he’s behind the paper still, but I can imagine it by the tone of his voice. ‘How could you have wondered where they had gone? When we got back it was like a scene from Trainspotting in here.’  Mr T shakes his paper out with a grunt and is silent again.

‘So… does that mean you’re not going to ask them?’

‘There is no way on God’s earth I am going to put them through that again. Regardless of any unfair physical or mental torture, they’ll disinherit us.’

‘We haven’t got anyone else though.’

I hear Mr T clear his throat from behind the paper. ‘What about your sister?’

‘Fine… if you want the kids in orange robes singing Hare Krishna.’

‘We can’t go to Lizzie’s wedding then.’

‘But I want to go to Lizzie’s wedding.’

‘I’m not stopping you going alone.’

‘I want to go with you!’

‘Not my problem.’

‘Phone your parents.’

‘No.’

There is silence again. I put on my most seductive voice. ‘Would an inventive sexual act persuade you?’

I see Mr T’s paper shake slightly. ‘I’ll go and call Mum.’

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