As part of my New Year's resolution to lose the extra two stone that unaccountably attached itself to my arse since I started spreading lard on pizza, I have started going swimming three times a week. This is a mixed blessing.
Firstly, it's undeniably working. It's shifting the weight. I lost 3lbs last week. It doesn't knacker me out like the gym used to do, either. I can't count the number of times I've fallen backwards off the rowing machine, tomato-faced and panting, wondering if my heart is belting out its last at that moment. Swimming is a complete contrast. When I swim, I coast through the blue, chlorinated waters for an hour or so and emerge energised, revitalised and only slightly peckish. It's a much nicer way to be.
On the other hand, I swim at a standard leisure centre. That means that every time I go I have to contend with any number of the hazards and perils of the public baths: discarded verruca socks floating down the big pool, toddlers with their attendant incontinence, little nests of pubes in the drains...the whole place really ought to be closed down. In fact, it's going to be, come the end of March. But meanwhile, there I am, negotiating assorted mingery in the name of good health.
And it doesn't even end there. I wish it did. Merry little children shouting at earsplitting volume while trying to drown one another, competitive middle-aged men in Speedos cleaving the water as splashily as they know how, and mad old bags in pink bathing caps doing backstroke diagonally across the swimming lanes, cutting through people's direction and their enjoyment at a stroke.
Yes, that last is usually me.