Today I did something which I've not done for thirty years or more. As I'd expected, I was spectacularly out of practise but it was definitely fun and I have every intention of repeating the experience. Richard joined in, too, which made it even more fun.
I'm talking about swimming, of course. When I was a child, our family group swam on most Sundays. We had a circuit of different pools which we'd go to - Warrington Baths was a favourite, though it has since been demolished, as has Leigh Baths which we also used.
Dad would never swim; he hated the very idea, and the most I ever recall him doing was paddling in ankle-deep sea water in Cornwall, his trousers rolled up to his knees. Mum loved swimming. One time, she decided to try doing the butterfly stroke. At least, that's what she insisted it was after the lifeguard's whistle had emptied the pool and she'd been rescued. How was he to know that the plumes of frantic splashing erupting either side of a bobbing-up-and-down purple-clad posterior did not signify immanent death? Hazel and I were watching from on the edge of the pool, helpless with laughter.
Eric loved to swim, too. An ex-Navy man, he later joined a diving group which used to head to Trearddur Bay in Anglesey two or three times a year. Evelyn enjoyed swimming, too, and joined us more often than Eric did, as he spent much of his time flying radio-controlled model planes at Burtonwood Airfield or on Rivington Pike.
Hazel nearly drowned me, once. She was practicing her new skills in life-saving and forgot that when you tow someone behind you, holding them by chin, you have to make sure that their head is above water so they can breathe. It's mandatory for staying alive. And then, at an earlier time, I nearly drowned myself when Hazel was demonstrating to all of us how she'd been learning to walk off the edge of a pool as if she'd accidentally fallen into a river. Perhaps this had something to do with her Duke of Edinburgh Award activities? I forget now. Anyway, no-one could do it without instinctively turning the "walk off" into a shallow dive. So I showed them how it was done. Unfortunately I hadn't yet learned how to swim despite umpteen having taken paid-for lessons, and I was in the deep end in Warrington Bath's Gala Pool. My family were perched on the pool steps, asking each other where I'd gone. Then I came spluttering to the surface, laughing and coughing at the same time. I gave up on the lessons after that, and learned how to survive sinking my on my own.
Anyway, the weekly swims gradually dropped off due to work or college pressures. Then our parents got more into caravanning and others moved on with their lives too, and so swimming became a thing of the past.
Anyway, a week ago I was on my way home from work when I walked past the swimming pool and thought, "Well, why not?" So, after a quick rummage through eBay I bought a costume for me and trunks for Richard. He gave that, 'Oh, hell, here we go' smirky-grin which most husbands summon when presented with their wife's latest idea but, nonetheless, he was first out of the changing cubicle at the pool.
Would I even remember how to swim? I told colleagues at work that if they never saw me again it'd be because I had drowned. Well, not only did I not drown but my body somehow remembered how to swim. The bad news is that it couldn't swim very far. I managed to swim all of three-quarters of a length before having to reach for the pool side. Is that lame or what?!!
Richard managed a whole length before gasping to a halt, so he did a bit better. At least we could laugh about it! We were in the pool, swimming up and down and gasping a bit (ok, a lot) until we knew it was time to stop. Emotionally we wanted to do more but logic overrode this as Richard was starting to get cramp in one leg.
So, fun was had! I intend to make swimming a regular part of my weekly routine.