I suppose i could blame Linda. But then it was part my idea, to begin with.
So i suppose some of the blame – and credit – lies with me. And besides, it isn’t exactly a crime to be soppy in public. Just embarrassing!
Saturday morning: taking the boy swimming. Again. Despite the fact he seems so far only to have progressed about half way through the half-way grade. Which, the more we think about it, the less good value it seems to be.
For it has taken him, so far, the best part of 3 years or, quite possibly, £600-plus of lessons in order to go from instant drown to doggy-paddle-while-they-fetch-a-lifebelt status. I’m pretty sure we’ve moaned about that before. Had we but known that in order to move the boy to the same level of swim ability that being chucked in at the deep end had achieved for most of our generation…we’d either have chucked him in ourselves – or at least just paid for private tuition.
Anyway, while boy swims, i usually get a coffee in the café. Its a friendly sort of place, run by Linda with assist from “her mum”. I know that sounds rude: but as i write it, i realise that’s how we were introduced. Or if i did know her name, i’ve forgotten. Which is entirely possible, since i do forget such things.
It is also one of those oases of peace and safety that i enjoy in my home area. All the more so, because it sits inside the Leisure Centre, where, way back, i had one of those awkward confrontations with a bloke not too happy about the presence of a woman of trans history.
And, like the local Tesco, or Church, almost because i had my worries, i’ve gone out of my way to make friends, with the result that now i love my visits to the leisure centre. Friendly staff, most of whom i know by first name: and a very nice café!
With magazines. Which is where this started. Because way back, talking to Linda, i muttered something about how great it would be if she sold newspapers on a saturday morning. She never did that. But she did set up a raft of magazines for visitors to borrow and read while waiting for their nearest and dearest not to drown.
Dreadful gossipy stuff, intermingled with real-life stories and cute pets. How could i resist? I’m an absolute sucker for the genre. So saturday morning is really a quiet interlude for catching up on neatly packaged personal triumph and tragedy. Weight loss, domestic violence, incurable illness overcome, incest and appalling sexual predators. I know i shouldn’t. But i do.
Which is why, shortly before time to pick the boy up from below, i found myself scrabbling round for tissues and dabbing surreptitiously at my eyes in the hope that no-one else noticed. It was a survivor story: about a mum whose child had died of cancer. Awful, awful stuff (and yes: it made me think of the boy). But uplifting too, in the sense that life DOES go on and people do survive even the worst.
Of course, Linda DID notice. Because i hadn’t any tissues with me and had to beg a couple from her. She called me soft – or words to that effect.
But it really was all her fault!