Post-Swimming Lesson Shower Rage!

As much as I admire those committed little 5, 6 and 7 year olds in my daughter’s swimming class, who struggle and splash to keep their bodies horizontal in the deeper water, it’s their parents I truly respect. Week after week, they make the sacrifice of an evening at home, to ensure that the life-saving skill of basic swimming is accomplished.

I see it in their eyes, mostly as they stand by the poolside showers, bottles of no-tears shampoo at arms length, instructing their slippery-skinned offspring to remove swimming hats and goggles and stand fully under the shower, rather than just a tiny bit under. I see it in their florid cheeks and slightly huffy expressions, that they’d rather be sipping a nice Pinot Noir and watching Netflix.

But they’re doing it for their children.

Click here to read this article on the Guardian-Series website…

And perhaps for that precious twenty-five minutes of quiet in the viewing gallery, while said-children are gainfully engaged with their swimming instructor. Of course, twenty-five minutes is a meagre amount of time to many, but to an in-demand working parent, its like manna from the gods. Twenty-five whole minutes to answer essential work emails, send texts to neglected friends, find a plumber for a leaking toilet, read the news, drink a coffee, play a few games of Candy Crush, or simply stare exhaustedly into space (I mostly do the latter).

Enjoy your twenty-five minutes, swimming folk, because, really, that little slice of me-time is the calm before the storm. When the swimming lesson is over, it is time to face The Changing Room. Ah, the changing room. Where do I start? A friend recently told me she’d witnessed a full-scale row between two mums. Smart, sweet, normal mums. The cause: one of them was allowing her son to take too long in the shower. Outrageous! Unbelievable! Well, of course it’s not, but that changing room environment does something to the nerves. It’s an annoyance amplifier.

There’s something about the combination of oppressive heat, harsh lighting, loud noise, repeated splashing from poolside showers, and frenzied negotiation of adequate shampoo lathering that pushes parental patience into the crunch zone.

Hence the phenomenon of post-swimming changing-room rage: an outward venting of the inner disgust at being trapped in that hot, noisy, splashy sweatbox. It’s not pretty. It’s not clever. But it’s not surprising either.

And all of this, before I’ve even mentioned the ‘intense’ behaviour of the young clientele. Over-excited children towel-whipping their siblings, shutting each other in lockers, dropping socks in puddles or making nerve-grinding screechy sounds. Then there are the tantrums – the tired, hungry ones rolling on the cubicle floor, screaming about how unfair their evil parents are for daring to ask them to put their shoes on.

And as for those horrid, blue, plastic shoe-covers…

Sigh. A medal for every parent. Although a large glass of something strong might do.







Why porn stars and motherhood do not mix…

Porn Star Martini, anyone? Okay, not the opening line you’d usually expect from a column about mum-related things, but to be fair, porn stars were the last thing I was expecting when walking my children to school the other day. Same walk, same route, same crossing, five times a week. All pretty humdrum and then… whammy! Out of nowhere: a suggestively dressed woman, full-pout, tan-thighs, making eyes at me from a large poster on the wall of a nearby bar/dining establishment.


Said poster also happened to be positioned right in front of the pelican crossing where my children and I stood waiting for the green man, allowing enough time for my 5 year-old son to absorb all the fleshy bits of this puzzling image:

‘Mummy, why isn’t that lady wearing trousers?’

And for my 7 year-old older daughter to practise her phonics on the images’ accompanying tag line: Porn Star Fridays. Cue the obvious:

‘Mummy, what’s a porn star?’

‘Er. Interesting question. I’d say it’s… it’s… um… someone who… um… helps people.’


Pause. Wince. Think quick.

‘Hey, kids, is that a Minecraft-shaped tree over there? You know, I do believe it is. Right there. A lovely square-shaped piece of topiary! Oooo, shall we go and have a look?’

Off we scurried. Now, I’m no Mary Whitehouse, but the job spec for porn-stardom was career advice I really wasn’t ready to hand out yet. Ditto any bird/bee-related discussion.

I’ve since learned that the poster was nothing more scandalous than an ill-judged piece of promotional material for a Friday night martini cocktail. That’s fine. Cocktails with silly, saucy names have long been part of drinking culture (Sex on the Beach, to name but a few). But facing this out to a high street, in an area full of young families and people of all ages and sensitivities? It just felt wrong.   Not to mention a teensy bit misogynistic. And, well, tacky,

Unsurprisingly, my discomfort was joined by other school parents who’d seen it and felt a similar ‘Ew! No!’ type of reaction. It wasn’t long before a #takeitdown twitter campaign was hatched. Suddenly, we become the Mumsnet brigade of Essex. Lots of blustery tiger-mum feminist fire, but with bigger bling and hair extensions.

To their credit, the drinking and dining establishment in question has now removed the offending poster without quibble, but hopefully they and other venues will think twice about what they cast to the unfiltered public on the outside of their buildings. It’s fair enough that businesses need to advertise, but not at the expense of local decency.

I have since tried a Porn Star Martini for myself (in the interests of research, of course). It’s a drink too sickly for my tastes and there’s definitely something freaky about all those passion fruit seeds, although they do provide tang. But as for the meaning of the cocktail’s name… on second thoughts, I’d rather not know.