We are now on step three of the roadmap out of lockdown and find ourselves on the diving board to freedom. Here, the bathers at the public pool have divided themselves into two distinct factions.
First there are the gung-ho sink-or-swimmers, happy to jump in at the deep end and just get on with life. They are the ones eager to do it all. Morning gym work-out, followed by an espresso in the café. Afterwards, lunch in a restaurant, early evening cinema, with a trip to the pub to dissect the blockbuster, then a final nightcap back at a fellow reveller’s house. It’s hard to believe this was once the norm rather than the exception. They want to do it all and they want to do it now! And yes, maybe they are the ones who’ll end up with their belly flopping antics going viral, but at least they’ve created lots of memories.
For others, this kind of timetable strikes fear in their hearts. They sit nervously at the shallow end, with one toe in the water, arm bands on and flotation boards at the ready. They are going for a softly-softly approach, a gradual submersion. And if the water temperature isn’t perfect or they feel themselves slipping under, then immediate retreat is the answer. They need to start with a cuppa in a trusted friend’s sanitised kitchen before moving on to a more crowded venue. For now, films will be watched from the safety of their own arm chair and a pint is only on the cards if it’s before 7pm and the rebel rousers have yet to come out. And yes, maybe they are the killjoys but at least their rubber rings won’t explode with the latest Covid variant.
In our household, the Nearly-Beloved is usually Mr Health and Safety. But due to my broken shoulder, he’s now taken on full household and taxi duties with the resultant stress making him throw caution to the wind. Apparently, he needs to go to the gym and play tennis to let off steam, whilst a few beers down the local do wonders for his mental health.
Grunting Teen is too busy at the moment with GCSE assessments, and too used to his Teen Cave to consider dive bombing into a pool of social activity. For now, he’s just glad to be back climbing three times a week and taking exams without a face mask. But once school has finished, ‘hanging at a mate’s house’ and all-night-no-sleep-overs are back on his wish list. Let’s just hope the roadmap takes us there and not to India instead.
As for me, my injury has slowed me down, making me more aware of how things don’t always go to plan. So, as the neighbour’s gardens fill with the happy sound of long missed grandchildren, I’m still in the paddling pool, testing the water. For the first time this year, I’ve finally been inside Delightful Daughter’s house and nearly tripped over the cat she adopted to replace us. Then I’ve ventured out to support my local café with a suitably antibac-ed and vaccinated companion. I’ve even started making tentative plans – a big birthday, two re-organised weddings. Who knows, we might yet make it to Amsterdam to see our Lost Boy.
But there’s just a few more lengths we have to swim. You see, all public baths have their fair share of unpredictable babies splashing around uncontrollably. Their immaturity makes them a liability. If not properly supervised by the life guards, accidents are prone to happen. And that’s the very last thing we need!