Once upon a time I hated Thursdays.
Thursday was the day when the PE teacher would mercilessly drive a horde of shivering children before her into the chilly horror of the school swimming pool, where we were assigned to groups according to ability.
Those who could not swim or lacked the stamina to do a full width were despatched to the Shallow End, where they could stand securely on the bottom or cluster round the railing at the edge of the pool while the teacher gave out floats and armbands.
The strongest swimmers went to the Deep End, where they could dive in freely and practise their strokes, or rest against the surrounding railing; from time to time, the teacher would visit them and make encouraging remarks.
And that left the third group – in what was traditionally (if somewhat illogically) known as the ‘Middle End’, squeezed into a narrow section delineated by ropes slung across the pool.
Crammed into this small area, unable to touch the bottom and rest, the unhappy ‘Middle Enders’ splashed miserably back and forth from side to side of the pool for half an hour or frantically trod water waiting for a space to open up on the few feet of railing.
And to add to their misery, on her way to and from the deep end, the teacher would pause to order them back to swimming their relentless widths – and, on rare but unpleasant occasions, ‘accidentally’ tread on fingers clutching the side of the pool for support.
Coverage of the forthcoming cuts, for me at least, is inextricably linked to dripping pipes, peeling paint and an overpowering smell of chlorine.
The Sunday Rumble: 21.1.18
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