Posted by: Sam Olsen | October 6, 2011

The Chronicles of Larry 7: Swim time, or not

Do you remember your first swimming lesson? Our neighbour Mr Ding obviously doesn’t because he swims like an epileptic dog in an electro-bath. No one can teach that.

But I don’t either, because I’ve never had one. But that doesn’t stop them taking me swimming. Oh no. And do they give me arm bands? Floats? Something to stop me falling to the bottom like the chunk of precious metal I am? No, no, and no. Good thing I’m so naturally talented at stuff like this. Else They could be in trouble. Think, I say, think about what you’re trying to do to me.

They generally dress me in an all in one suit that’s made to look like a shark, – yes, back to that old chestnut – which Mum bought to permanently remind Dad about his phobia. (They’re always so kind to one another.) But sometimes they make me wear these poncy French trunks that Uncle Al bought me. They’d be great except for the fact that he mistakenly bought Dad exactly the same ones too, and there’s no way that looking like him is in any way a good thing. (When people see Dad getting in the water and start trying to swim they normally point and stare, laugh, or open a book as to when the lifeguard will have to fetch him out. I swear once I saw someone trying to sell tickets to see him go. Not as bad as Mr Ding, but close.)

So anyway, They took me swimming the other day yet again. It all ended up as a bit of a mess really. The pool was quite full, it being a sunny day here. Well, sunny apart from the thick blanket of smog, but at least it was still light. Mr Ding was there with his children, who naturally aren’t as talented as I am in the pool despite me being considerably younger than them. One of the other whippersnappers, Gordon, was showing off, dropping his goggles to the bottom of the pool and then diving down to get them. “Dad, Dad, look at this” he cried. Repeatedly. Does he have no shame? But Mr Ding and Dad were talking about work, or something else Dad knows nothing about.

At this point I was sitting on the side waiting for my Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall time (you know, when They think it’s funny to encourage me to leap off into Their arms, as if I trust them) when Gordon went down again. Now I’m not a psychiatrist, nor a doctor with some fancy degree, but I know when someone’s not showing off anymore. They tend to sit quite still and not move, exactly like Gordon was doing. The difference was, he was at the bottom of the pool. I thought about saying something, but I just couldn’t be bothered.

Suddenly Mr Ding let out a little yelp, a bit like a chihuahua but slightly more panicked, and jumped in to ‘save’ Gordon. Dad looked a touch startled, and Mum just continued sunning herself. Soon Mr Ding and Gordon were back at the surface – it was only 5 feet or so, and to be fair all Mr Ding had to do was to stand up. Yet he still managed to be spluttering. Turns out Gordon was just holding his breath and it was Mr Ding was the closer one to death.

All in all this swimming lark is more trouble that its worth. I’m always pushing for more freedom from Them, but I don’t want to do a Gordon either. Thank goodness the pool will be shut for the winter on 15 October.  They might find something else for me to do that doesn’t involve panicking dog-like swimmers and sons who forget to breathe.

Not Mr Ding



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