Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When I go swimmin' with the wimmin' , ee I do have a real good time

'Totally up for it, Lad', I heard Man of the House say, as I staggered in with the shopping. 'I'll tell the missus we're just going for a drink.'

Intrigued, I silently put down the bags.

'I know! Barenaked ladies as far as the eye can see', Man continued, and I readied myself to jump aboard the Conclusion Train to Obvious.

'See you there, Lad, dress code casual.' Sniggering, he put down the phone, then delivered a classic double-take when he saw me posing coolly in the doorway, smoking a cheroot. The impact was only slightly marred by me coughing my guts out, and ten minutes passed before the interrogation could begin.

Man stopped hovering solicitously with water and tissues and said, 'It's a right-on political cause.'

'The nude swimming party at the Pells, presumably?'

'It's to support, er', he looked quickly at the flier, 'naked bike riding. It's about sustainability and stuff.'

'Yes, the message about the vulnerability of cyclists is clearly stated by a load of starkers old goats going swimming and leering.'

Man sulked. 'I'll call Lad and cancel.'

'I think you should go', I said.

Man did another double-take. It's good to retain an element of surprise in a long-term relationship, isn't it? And it had occurred to me that if he went, I could write about it without actually having to go. I only venture into a swimming pool if I've brought my Victorian bathing machine, from which I slowly emerge, clad from neck to ankle in a baggy knitted suit.

Everyone loves the Pells though. If I'm not swimming I sit under a tree, tartan rug round my knees, watching the jollification. Teenagers snog on the table-tennis table, then leap into the hormone-freezing water. Toddlers excavate the paddling pool for treasure: Thing Two recently brought me a dead spider. Adults sunbathe and, depending on temperament, tut at noisy children, frown at petting adolescents, or scream at deceased arachnids.

On Saturday, Man of the House sloped off for a riotous evening of au naturel splashing, while I enjoyed a nice solitary time of macrame and absinthe. When he returned he was grumpy, complaining that Lad had ditched him, no-one had talked to him, and that he'd spent most of the time having to think about Ann Widdecombe.

Lad came round next day with a different tale. 'It was brilliant! Best night ever. Loads of lovely ladies.' He started to unbutton his trousers. 'That bird I really liked wrote her phone number across my derriere', he said cheerily to Man, as I backed hastily out of the room, 'can you copy it down?'

Moments later Man laughed so loudly, I had to come back in. Across the wobbly pink canvas, Lad's new friend had written, 'Seen enough thanks', in waterproof marker pen.

We took the kids to the Pells next day. Man brought a rug and sat under the tree with me. It was nice to have the company.

Beth Miller, 6th July 2009. Published in and in Viva Lewes magazine, July 2010. Photo by Alex Leith

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