Scary Joyless Beardy Men in Swimming Pools (14/7/2012)

I never used to like swimming very much as a kid. Partly because I wasn’t much good at it. I actually can’t remember anyone teaching me very much either, although I suppose they must have done. I remember not wanting to be able to swim for a long time because being able to actually not sink meant having to go and do swimming in the big pool where the water was way, WAY too cold when you were used to the little pool.

Still, despite my petulant reluctance, the ability to swim arrived like an unwanted government, born from an ugly union of the relentless force of The System and colossal indifference. For reasons I never quite understood at the time, some of my friends even liked going to the pool and even viewed it as a treat (why? And where was the appeal? Five minutes in and I’d swum half a width, touched the bottom, done a mushroom float, been splashed in my face and then I was bored because the only thing left to do was pee in the water). I never got it and rarely went, but on those few occasions that we went to a swimming pool for “fun” I remember the phenomena of Scary Joyless Beardy Men. See, half or maybe two thirds of the pool was for the likes of me to tit about in, and then there was the dreaded Line of Orange Floats that carried every bit as much weight as the Berlin Wall and for much the same reasons: over on my side was a place of laughing and splashing and playful games. Over There was a place of relentless work, back and forth, up and down, on and on without rest or sleep. The home of the Scary Joyless Beardy Men. I don’t know why I only ever noticed the men or why they generally had beards, but they were clearly Joyless because who the hell with an ounce of fun left in them would spent any of their time just swimming up and down, back and forth, on and on when they could have been doing almost anything else. And Scary partly because they were big and relentless and had beards and partly because they didn’t half get grumpy if you crossed into their Zone Of No Fun and accidentally got in the way but mostly because they were so utterly incomprehensible. WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT? WHY? They were what I thought East Germany was like, only they were in my swimming pool (I also quietly resented them for using up a portion of the pool so that I couldn’t swim widths. Lengths meant going into the deep bit and that was scary in an entirely Here-Lurks-Great-Cthulhu-Within-The-Fathomless-Depths sort of way).

I’d forgotten all of that when I started swimming a couple of months back, until I caught sight of myself in the mirror and there he was, a vision from my childhood: Scary Joyless Beardy Man. Only this time it was me, and so now I know that all the Scary Joyless Beardy Men that I remember maybe weren’t joyless at all. Maybe they were just thinking of far-away places and far-off worlds instead.

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3 Responses to “Scary Joyless Beardy Men in Swimming Pools (14/7/2012)”

  1. Robert VS Redick says:

    Clearly they were all writing novels, and many of them were late. Hence secretly hoping that Cthulhu would rise and put them out of their misery. Glad you lived to traumatize the next generation.

  2. Matt says:

    Can I apply for Scary Joyless Beardy Men (Beardless Division) please ?

  3. Dave Lloyd says:

    I have remonstrated with small boys who have made Jess or Freya cry in the swimming pool by splashing them and hence have morphed into Scary Joyless Beardy Man. I have not swum any lengths though. Mainly because of Cthulhu.

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