Monday, 8 June 2009

The Gate Keeper.

Swimming Pool. 8.50pm.

Hi, I'm here for the ladies only session at 9.

I can't take any payment at the moment.

(She is counting out change from the till, there is money everywhere.)

Actually, I have a leisure card if that's any help?

Would you mind waiting just a few more minutes dear? (Patronising smile nods towards the chairs.)

Sure. ( I am the only person in the foyer, I take a seat.)


(The change is counted and put away, she is sitting at the till staring into space.)

Me again. Are you OK to put it through now?

(Sighs and looks at the clock.) The pool is booked until 9pm for Aqua Aerobics.

Oh yes but I am here for the swim not the Aqua and I need to get changed.

I understand but some ladies have been getting into the pool before 9pm and there have been complaints.

I can assure you I have no intention of entering the pool before 9pm but I do need to get changed and it is almost time now.

Try and see it from my point of view dear. (holding the palm of her hand to her chest with the pained expression of a victim.) You might say that now but then decide to get into the pool and I'll be in trouble for letting you in before time.


Excuse me, I have given you my word I will do no such thing and we have had this conversation once already. It is now 9pm and I would very much like to go in.

Well, I am sorry if I have offended you and if you promise not to enter the pool before time I will let you go in. If there was anyone else here I would have to ask you to wait you do see that don't you dear?

I respond with a tight smile and a 'Thank you.' as she returns my leisure card. I head for the stairs but she calls after me.

It's 20p for the lockers dear, non refundable.

Yes, I know. Thank you.

I thrash my way through thirty laps before hitting the showers. I dry off, get dressed and creep back down into the still empty foyer. She has her back to me so I make good my escape into the car park where I am blinded by the full beam of head lights I left on earlier.


  1. Her Sister Works at Todmorden Swimming Pool!

  2. Very nice. I enjoy reading these pieces that have more a sense of completeness to them. Really enjoyed the ending there with the light.

  3. Tony and Brad

    What should have been a way of unwinding and getting rid of the frustrations of the day turned into running the gauntlet. In hindsight, she gave me more than hard time, she gave me yet another window into the trials and tribulations people face every day regardless of which side of the counter they stand.

    Thank you both for popping in.

  4. Did they have a ducking stool there? She sounds a right old witch.

    (just came up for air)

  5. I can't decide if I was more affronted by her patronising demeanour or by the feeling that I was back at school and must do as I was told since she had already decided I could not be trusted.

    Good to see you John, hope all is well.


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