by , under life, o tempora

I went to the swimming pool this morning with my eyes already hurting (from the paint fumes, I suppose; it gives Secunda a headache and my other half full-blown hay fever) and found it a noisy place, because someone in a cherry-picker was demolishing a tree with a chainsaw and another person was putting fallen wood through a shredder. I didn’t stay long enough to learn whether they were just cutting the dead branches and the branches directly over the new water-slide or cutting it down altogether (which would be a shame, as it’s a really remarkable tall old willow, but perhaps it is at the end of its life).

I was getting grumpy because of the noise, but still too stubborn too leave, when a family came in that I think of as “the Eradays” because they tend to behave as I’d expect from that infamous Valdyan noble house: as if the world belongs to them and other people are only there to serve them, or else on sufferance. Parents my age or a little younger and son in his early twenties. There’s also a young woman, I don’t know whether sister or girlfriend of the son, but today she wasn’t there. When she is, the young people spend their time swimming lazy lengths and gossiping, sometimes shouting sarcastic remarks to the parents on the other side. This time, though, father and son dived in and front-crawled at great speed, disregarding whoever might be in their way. After all, they’re so rich and important that everybody else must make room for them, no?

I was a little late to notice that I was indeed in the father’s way and moved aside just in time, only to be slapped on the side of the head by the son. “Oops, sorry,” I said, because it wasn’t the first time (and probably not the last time) that I’ve been in a collision. Usually, apologies and smiles from both sides solve everything. But no! The young man started to yell things at me that I can’t even remember. “I said sorry!” I said, and started to swim to the stairs –because obviously there was no room for me in the pool– while still being scolded. Then a staff member came along, alerted by the shouting, and told the young man off. “That sow ought to have gone out of the way!” he said, and this made the staff member tell him to get out of the pool and watch his language. Instead he swam to the other side very fast, but not as fast as two strong women (the staff member and the assistance she called for) could run, and they bodily heaved him out of the water and told him to go and not come back for six months because his behaviour had earned him a ban. (And indeed, there’s a poster on the wall detailing punishments for improper behaviour: six-month ban for aggression and insulting language.)

He was still spewing invective at me, as if I’d swum into his path on purpose for him to hit me. His parents followed him out, passing where I was by that time sitting on the bench shaking, and each of them had a sneer for me as well.

I got coffee, the use of an instructor’s red dressing gown and sympathy (“they shouldn’t act as if this is their private pool that they graciously allow other people to swim in!”) in the staff room. Then I didn’t feel like swimming at all any more, so I took the long way home along the river to get it out of my system.

I love it that the staff are so alert; one of them told me that they’re extra alert whenever they see someone swim very fast because that’s more likely to cause accidents. And I think they know these people, and it wasn’t the first incident but they had good cause for a ban at last.

It’s still not completely out of my system, of course, but I can laugh at some of the details now. I’ve been called a pig and a swine (both in a friendly context), but never before a sow! I didn’t know people actually did that.

  1. Felix

    And yet again, I am reminded of Conan the Barbarian’s immortal remark:

    Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.

    Damn modern psychology. Damn helicopter parenting.

    I’m glad you’re all right.


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