Swimming Lessons

June 6th 2006

I’ve never learned how to swim and when I saw an advert in the local freebie newspaper the other week to the effect that the local leisure centre would be holding free swimming lessons specially designed for Oldies I decided to take advantage of the offer. Well it’s something to do, and although for the last sixty eight years I’ve somehow managed to avoid falling into the canal and drowning you never know, especially if I start having the dizzy spells that older people are often prone to. I therefore presented myself at the swimming pool at the appointed hour, which was 9 a.m. this morning.

There were eight would-be swimmers in total, all male, the powers that be having decided that any prospective women swimmers would be accommodated in another session, obviously deciding that the swimming lessons would go more swimmingly if there wasn’t any scope for hanky panky.

Of the eight of us one man had only one leg, one must have tipped the scales at thirty stones at the very least, one was a dwarf, and one had a humpback. The other four of us could be classified as normal, although one man had a glass eye, which strictly speaking is not completely normal, but a lot more normal than the rest of the motley crew. Lined up we must have looked like we were auditioning for Star Wars 7, The Return Of The Grotesques.

I had grave doubts that once the fat one entered the pool he would displace so much water that we’d all be swimming in the rafters but I kept my thoughts to myself, at least for the time being.

The lesson began. First we had to lie on our bellies and do the breast stroke, as demonstrated by the lady instructor. This involved moving our arms and legs, or in the case of the one-legged man his arms and leg, in a sort of frog like motion. After a minute or so the one-legged man asked, not unreasonably I thought, if his being minus a leg would cause him to go round in circles rather than in a straight line, once in the pool. The instructor said she hadn’t come across this potential problem before but that they would ‘cross that bridge when they came to it’.

A bridge that needed to be crossed immediately, as we’d already come to it, was that the fat man, balancing somewhat precariously on his belly, kept falling over every time he made more than the smallest frog-like motion with his arms and legs, and on a couple of occasions would have squashed the man with the glass eye and maybe caused his glass eye to pop out if he hadn’t had the good sense to fling himself out of the fat man’s way. The instructor solved this by moving the fat man over against a wall, which stopped him falling over on that side, and by shoring up his other side with two medicine balls from the gym.

The hump backed man, obviously a man with a sense of humour, said he was thankful we weren’t doing the back stroke or he’d be in the same boat and would require shoring up himself. His mention of boats got me thinking that if you wished to propel yourself through water then a boat would be a far easier and safer way of achieving this rather than by swimming, certainly a less tiring way, as after about five minutes of lying on my belly moving my arms and legs in frog-like motions I was absolutely knackered. I mentioned this to the instructor who said that when we were in the pool it wouldn’t be so tiring due to the buoyancy of the water. Fortunately we were then asked to get in the water to test out this theory.

At this point the fat man excused himself as he ‘needed the toilet’. I hazarded a guess that it would be doubtful if the toilet would feel the same way about him once he’s deposited his thirty stones on it.

There were steps down into the pool, which is four feet deep at the shallow end. The dwarf, at about three feet I would guess, disappeared completely before bobbing to the surface again and splashing for dear life in a furious dog paddle. The instructor told him to get out while she had a think about it, obviously never having had to instruct a three feet inch dwarf trying to stand up in a four feet deep pool before.

The fat fuck returned from the gents (you will see why I have relegated him from a fat man to a fat fuck in a moment). Eschewing use of the steps, and quite without warning, he jumped into the pool. A wave of tsunami proportions headed for me at about two hundred miles-an-hour, completely engulfing me, and filling my eyes with the heavily-chlorinated water. Minutes later my eyes were red raw from a combination of the effects of the chlorine and from rubbing them, and several hours later I still looked like the something out of a Hammer horror film. The Trouble couldn’t look at me without screwing up her eyes.

I’m in two minds as to whether I’ll be going to lesson two next week. If it wasn’t free I wouldn’t even be considering it.

A Recce

June 5th 2006

“You see not everybody is on the internet,” said Atkins Down he Road. “In fact according to my figures less than half the population are on the internet. And many of those who are on the internet are kids, who don’t enter into the equation as they don’t have cars. And of the few left who are on the internet who aren’t kids, less than a quarter regularly shop on e-Bay.”

“All very interesting,” I said, not bothering to stifle a yawn. “But what has all that got to do with the price of eggs?”

“Nothing. But what it does mean is that our scheme to sell inflatable rubber women as artificial car passengers is not only off the back burner but very firmly onto the front burner again and cooking with gas.”

I was guarded, as I always am with anything to do with Atkins. “Well if your figures are correct….”

“They are,” he enthused. “Come with me.”

Atkins’ car was parked outside. As I followed him down the drive I noticed there was an inflatable rubber woman seated in the passenger seat. He stopped at the car and said: “The plan is while I drive her round the town you see if we get any funny looks.”

“Funny looks is the very least we’ll be getting, riding about the town with an inflatable rubber woman,“ I said tartly, not much caring for the way the situation was developing.

“Not a bit of it,” Atkins assured me. “My theory is that people will only recognise it as some sort of vague womanly figure.”

“Well they’ll certainly recognise that as a womanly figure; look at the tits on her. Couldn’t you get one with smaller tits?”

“They don’t make inflatable rubber women with small tits. Lulu they aren’t. Apparently there’s no demand for them. I tried letting it down a bit to make them smaller but the rest of her went down as well and by the time I’d got her tits down to something like normal proportions she was only about two feet high and had more wrinkles than a prune. Anyway it’s not as though her tits are bare, is it, they’re covered up by that rather tasteful Age Concern Arran sweater. And lots of women have big tits.” He opened the rear door of the car for me. “Get in then.”

Against my better judgement I did as he bade me. All manner of things that might go wrong went through my head. We could be involved in an accident. We could break down and have to send for the AA. We could have a puncture. “What if we have a puncture?” I said.

“Well we’ll have to repair her and blow her up again,” said Atkins, starting the car.

“Not to the rubber woman, to one of the bloody car tyres!”

“We won’t.”

“Well just drive carefully, that’s all. We don’t want any accidents. I don’t want to end up in Casualty having to explain what I was doing in a car with an inflatable rubber woman.”

“I’m not a fool,” said Atkins, checking the inflatable rubber woman’s seat belt and primly pulling her skirt down over her knees.

We set off. Atkins was right. Hardly anyone looked into the car as we drove around and those who did didn’t seem to notice anything untoward. Even when we pulled up at traffic lights and the man who drew up beside us looked directly at the inflatable rubber woman from a distance of a few feet he didn’t register surprise, although it has to be admitted he was wearing very thick glasses and looked a bit dopey.

Atkins drove around for half-an-hour. When we got back he was jubilant. “What did I tell you,” he crowed. “We’re onto a winner here Razza my lad.” 

I was non committal, but we arranged to meet tomorrow to discuss plans for the way ahead. When I got in The Trouble asked where I’d been.

“Oh, just driving round the town with Atkins Down The Road and an inflatable rubber woman,” I said, matter of fact.

“If you don’t want to tell me, just don’t tell me,” she snapped. “There’s no need to make up ridiculous excuses.”

You just can’t win with women, can you.

From Another Planet?

June 3rd 2006

The recent news in all the national dailies that the Inland Revenue are wasting more than a £1 million pounds in tax credits every year doesn’t come as a surprise to me after a recent telephone conversation I had with another Government department.

The Ministry of Pensions, or whatever name they’re calling themselves at the moment, sent me a circular telling me that I may be entitled to extra old age pension benefits, giving me a number to call. I rang them, but not with any great hope that the outcome would be beneficial to the Ravenscroft family purse. The woman on the other end told me that I would have to answer various questions and if the answers to the questions were favourable I might qualify.

The questions were what you would expect: Are you a homeowner?; Do you have any income other that your pension; Are you British: et cetera et cetera. In other words questions to which they already knew the answers if they’d only trouble themselves to look them up. Then, after about ten very boring minutes, when we’d moved from my personal details and onto The Trouble’s, the woman asked: “Does your wife come from another country?”

”No,” I replied. Then, seeking to inject a little light relief into the proceedings, I said: “From another planet maybe……”

There was a long pause, then: “From another planet?”


Another long pause. “But not from another country?”

”Well I’m not sure. Possibly. Maybe the planet she’s from is more advanced than  Earth and they don’t have countries, maybe they did have countries at one time but they’re all one country now – you know, like the European Economic Community but spread worldwide.”

There was an even longer pause before the woman said: “I think we’ll put that question on one side for a while. Come back to it later.

In the event we didn’t go back to it because a few questions and answers later she decided that there wasn’t any point in continuing  because taking into consideration  the answers I’d given so far it would be most unlikely if I did indeed qualify for extra pension benefits.

So, with staff off this calibre cluttering up the system is it any wonder that the Inland Revenue are wasting £1 billion pounds a year? I’m surprised it isn’t ten billion.

Good News

June 2nd 2006

I have good news and even better news. The good news is that the Pollitt’s dog has come out of its coma. Whether this had anything to with Wayne Pollitt or any of his clan singing ‘How Much Is that Doggy In The Window’ or ‘Old Shep’ into its earhole isn’t clear, but probably not. More likely it was one of the other methods the Pollitts employ to stir it into action, such as kicking it or tickling its bollocks, which brought it back into the land of the living.

People might be surprised to learn that I consider You Twat’s return to consciousness as good news, but although an intolerant man when it comes to dog barking I am not an evil or vindictive person, and certainly didn’t want the dog to die. Granted I could have done with it staying in a coma for a little longer – about five years would have been nice – but then I’m only human.

The even better news is that You Twat has spent all day in the back garden, with all the Pollitts out of the house, and hasn’t barked once. Perhaps, after its traumatic experience, it is simply taking time to build up its energies before returning to full barking and howling mode, but perhaps not. Perhaps, due to its enforced sleep, something has happened to it psychologically, and it now feels it can get by without having to bark and howl its fool head off all day.

I couldn’t even induce it to bark. I lobbed several small rocks and half a red brick at it and although they didn’t hit it some of them landed very close, but if it noticed them it didn’t give any indication that it had, and made not so much as a murmur.

While I was doing this Atkins Down The Road called round – he still has a bee in his bonnet about his inflatable rubber woman car passenger idea – and when I’d explained to him what I was trying to achieve he offered to return home and get his air rifle to see if a couple of slugs in You Twat’s arse would get it barking again. I thanked him for the offer but told him that two slugs up the dog’s arse would almost certainly not only get him barking again but keep him barking for a very long time, and that was the last thing I wanted. Atkins then said that if this happened he also had a .22 amongst his arsenal of weapons and could quickly and humanely put the dog out of its misery. I thanked him and put this solution to the problem on the back burner.

So all in all, and although it’s still early days, the signs are looking excellent. I just  hope it isn’t the proverbial lull before the storm.