Bobbing along in a pool of ideas

Jan photo 1

I’d swim every day if I could. I go early and try to do a kilometre, although sometimes it’s more like a mile by the time I’ve gone round the chatting, shower-capped ladies festooned with bling (swimming isn’t good for you unless you actually move) and folk who do nothing but wade.

When I do get going, though, I relax and consider life’s unanswered questions. Why do so many people swim with as much of their body out of the water as possible? Doesn’t that, added to their frantic jerky limb movements, take more effort than doing it properly? Why don’t child swimmers look where they’re going? Why is it that you can’t get past someone two feet wide in a pool fifteen times the width?

Once I’ve accepted that there are no answers to any of that, I relax and try to think of story ideas. Recently one popped into my head more or less fully formed, instead of the titles or vague woolly nothings that have filled it recently. I have to say that it’s been a struggle to write lately, but this one was easy. It’s under consideration at the moment, not here but…if it gets rejected?

My head was filled with nothing but thoughts of horror when I was 8. Every week my class went swimming in the local Corporation swimming bath. I couldn’t swim and dreaded the cold air, cold water, tiles on the walls, changing cubicles on the pool side, the smell of the chlorine, and the feel of the metal pipe rail around the side that I had to force my fingers to release. We used to sing the same songs on the bus to the pool each week, I have never heard them since, but just thinking about them brings the panic back.

I finally got the hang of swimming in Israel at the age of 10: beautiful open air pool, blues skies, sun. And talking of Israel, last time I had a swim I saw something on the bottom of the pool that seemed to be written in Hebrew. Could it be a story prompt? On closer inspection it seemed to be saying “dfdch”, not a word I know, and it turned out to be a bit of randomly-shaped tinfoil. I am going to have to be more selective in what I pick up in swimming pools. Can you get prescription goggles?

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