I’ve tried to be patient. I’ve tried to be fair. I’ve spoken positively of my local pool. I've tried not to make negative comparisons between it and Thana City’s multiple swimming areas - all bathed in a warm, balmy, sunny 35 degrees glow, edged in 5 star comfort sun loungers, with waiters and waitresses who know me by name serving me poolside delights.
Similarly, I’ve not commented on the inevitable foot-print clad dirty floors of the local leisure centre, or minded its limited (non-existent) showering facilities. Instead, I’ve focused on the friendly welcoming staff - they're brilliant - and the diverse populace who are able to access this facility at different times. I've not minded the 'hour only' slots where the final fifteen minutes is spent lapping the waves with 60 pairs of beady, six year olds' eyes willing me to leave the pool early so that their fun lesson can begin.
I've tried, I really have, but I'm not finding swimming in the UK too much fun. Who is to blame? Well, it’s hard to say, but check what kind of swimmer you are and decide if it could be you.
The Walking Catfish
The Walking Catfish tends to wiggle rather than swim. S/he can be found towards the steps side of the pool slowly moving the length of it whilst chatting to a fellow Walking Catfish. S/he is likely to leave the pool along with other Catfish and head for a cuppa and a slice of cake. The Walking Catfish is a friendly breed of swimmer, but can be problematic to other fish, when the social aspect of walking with friends means that several lanes of pool are taken up and unavailable for actual swimming. Walking Catfish often leave zero room for overtaking by other species, but because they are so nice tend to get away with this.
The Neon Tetra
The Neon Tetra is a friendly fish, always quick with a smile and willing to share its lane with you. It clings to the centre lane and takes its time to travel the length of the pool. It rarely submerses its whole self into the water, preferring to keep its head above the surface so that it can welcome new fish to the water. It likes to squish up against other fish it is familiar with, sometimes without their consent. Outside of the pool it can be found chatting to the reception staff and is always quick with a joke. The Neon Tetra's only fault is its tendency to hover on one spot, thus making it difficult for other species to touch the poolside edge.
The BristleNose Fish
The BristleNose Fish is the master of disguise and one of the most annoying fish in the pool. It is often quite ripped in appearance and approaches the water as if engaging in fast and furious activity is its sole purpose. Hogging the roped off lanes, whilst chatting to other Bristlenoses or poolside attendants, often of the opposite gender, is its actual purpose. One disdainful look from a BristleNose and other species, move out of the roped lane area pronto. Although the BristleNose may often feature on leisure centre promotional flyers and leaflets, looks can be deceiving and after claiming the prime swimming area, it tends to lounge at the peripheries of the lane, thus making it impossible for less high profile swimmers to use this space.
Southern Cave Fish
The Southern Cave Fish enters the pool with aplomb taking a headlong dive into the depths of the water, regardless of any activity occuring at surface level. With no sight, and minimum hearing the Southern Cave Fish is largely unaware of surrounding water users. It only senses their presence through the vibration of shoving up against them with wide flailing arm and legs. The Southern Cave Fish is often an older, very localised male fish who is unaware of any negative impact of claiming the majority of the pool as its own. In truth, the Southern Cave Fish is disliked by all. The BristleNose is disdainful of the Southern Cave's less than perfect exterior, the Neon Tetra dislikes being separated from its 'tribe' and The Walking Catfish is frequently irritated from having the ground taken from beneath its feet as the Southern Cave dives in.
Sea Urchins emit a predatory and spikey aura that makes other fish wary of engaging with them. They often swim alongside the roped area, in an attempt to avoid the Neon Tetra Tribe and as an act of passive aggression towards the Bristlenose, whom they resent for lounging in the prime swimming spots. Most Sea Urchins swim fairly slowly, alternating freestyle and breast stroke, without ever getting their hair wet. but regularly meeting their daily exercise target. Sea Urchins are known for their longevity and secretly aspire to show Bristlenoses how it's done.
I think I probably fit the Sea Urchin type, though I do get my hair wet when I swim. That's another thing, why do UK swimming pools dry out my hair so much? Actually, perhaps I'm a new breed of swimmer completely, deserving of the Grumpyoldfart tag!
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If you are a fish lover, (or concerned about copyright) I've linked the images used so please take a look at the original sites I have borrowed them from.
(Jump to the end to evaluate the type of child you are.)
I’m out with Saint Mick, not in Thana City in Bangkok or in Broughton, Lincolnshire. I’m actually heading off to ‘ The Little Red Gallery’ in a place called Stamford, in pursuit of a piece of art by an artist called Roz Bell. Her work is bold and colourful-you might even say brash; her pictures of elephants are a bright reminder of living both in Thailand and Tanzania and the colours she uses in her flower pictures are stunningly vibrant. Take a look. We’re in the Porsche as there are no kids in tow as Betsy has gone to London for a few days to stay with her sister, so we’re practising for retirement and enjoying the day!
I just texted both of the girls actually, (note the direction of the correspondence-me to them, not them to me), to see how they were getting on. They’re fine and after a lazy morning are heading for brunch before a trip to Oxford Street (courtesy of Grandma’s pocket money!) When they are away I’ve time to notice that I react quite differently emotionally to their absence. Betsy is the younger of the two, and she would readily admit a bit of a Miranda Hart type. Consequently I’m worrying that she has got to where she needs to be without incident or drama. Annie will be looking out for her, but I’m second-guessing how she will be feeling about being in loco-parentis role. I am never quite sure what is going on in that head of hers! I’m feeling protective and proud towards them both equally, but for different reasons – back to my same/same but different notion which I was wittering on about in my last post!
I wonder if the girls perceive my different parental concerns as favouritism. I’ll have to ask them when they get back. My hunch is that Bets will think I demonstrate favouritism towards Annie by trusting her more and praising her capability. Annie, on the other hand, would be forgiven for thinking that I worry about Betsy more than I ever have done about her, so in comparison may feel she is quite neglected!
There are probably lots of reasons why kids assume that their parents favour their siblings rather than themselves. For example, parents tend to have a bottomless pit of forgiveness, which can be annoying for the sibling who hasn’t done anything that needs forgiving! I’ve got to admit I’ve got a good lot of sympathy for Joseph’s brothers, why the heck should he get the techni-coloured dream-coat. Seriously, he swans back in and is immediately back in his dad’s good books.
Kids have a huge sense of what is just or unjust and I think it is this sense of not being treated fairly that is seen as central to questions of favoritism. I guess there’s a reason why the ‘it’s not fair’ phrase never goes out of fashion. Of course, being a favourite child applies to offspring of all ages and times. Think of poor old Cordelia in King Lear - her situation really isn’t fair. Just because she won’t suck up to Lear she gets exiled from the whole kingdom. Talk about losing ‘favourite child’ status in style!
I think that there is a bit of a chicken and egg concept at play when exploring whether and why favouritism exists in parental attitudes to siblings. Is it the offspring’s behaviour that determines whether they are the favourite or does the favouritism (be it real or perceived) stem from inconsistencies in parenting?
Kids (even grown up ones) can bicker and feel resentment about whether they are their parents’ favourite. Familial relationships can be so complex and messy that it isn’t easy to objectively analyse if you are indeed a ‘favourite child’ and I guess the really interesting question would be, why does it even matter? This Daily Mail article (so it must be true!) says it is the youngest child who is the favourite so I’m fine! Perhaps a more enlightening approach to exploring this is to think about what type of son or daughter you are and have been and whether you consequently deserve to be the favourite.
These are the types I can think of:
The Whirlwind - The status of the ‘whirlwind’ can only really be achieved in late middle age. The Whirlwind generally does not live close to home; their visits are sparse but enthusiastically executed. The whirlwind’s visit is a flurry of organising, tidying, cleaning, planning and treat giving. Much is achieved in a Whirlwind’s weekend visit and parents are left full of gratitude, but slightly shell-shocked. In all honesty, parents are not sorry to wave off the Whirlwind, though do enjoy sharing all that has been accomplished in a boastful manner with neighbours and friends.
The Plant Pot - The Plant pot is almost the polar opposite of the Whirlwind. When they visit they plonk down on the sofa, comment on dust on the TV stand or wherever it may be, and expect to be fed, watered, sheltered and spoken gently to for the duration of their stay. They thrive under these care conditions, but ironically the parents being visited don’t.
The Well-Meaning But Misguided - The Well-Meaning But Misguided’s intentions are sound, but they are unlikely to achieve favourite status. The Well-Meaning is full of positive and helpful suggestions for how to do things differently and better (i.e, their own way). This ranges from how to hang the washing out, to what to buy at the supermarket, to where to position the sofa. These suggestions are usually good ideas but not always well received. The Well-Meaning’s But Miguided’s nickname, used by the parent in their absence is the ‘Knobby-Know-All’.
The Egg Sucker - The Egg Sucker is likely to be in their early twenties and be entering a new phase of financial security and independence. Their skillset includes giving advice on everything from marital relationships, to how to cook dinner, to how they themselves could have been brought up better. The irony of this is usually lost on the Egg Sucker, but not the parent. The Egg Sucker can be extremely irritating
The Sponge – the Sponge, otherwise known as the Pacifier, knows more gossip about the parent’s friends and neighbours than they themselves do, due to endless hours of being talked to. If The Sponge has a qualification in Counselling and can appropriately add questions to the conversation, such as “How does that make you feel?” their title changes to The Listener. The Sponge’s visits provide a valuable outlet enabling parents to vent. The Sponge often feels saturated and needs to wring out after visiting their parents.
The Clown - The Clown sees their role in the family to entertain their parents. They are not above performing a bit of a show, song or dance even when in their late middle-age. This causes concern amongst parents who often question post-visit, if the changeling child really belongs to them.
The Helper - The Helper has very good intentions and hovers around as parents prepare drinks and meals and offers to help. The Helper’s weakness tends to be that they think parents are incapable of doing all the every day activities that they complete all the time the Helper isn’t there. The Helper can be known to overstep the mark causing both confusion and offence when stepping unintentionally into Critic or Whirlwind mode.
The I’m Gonna Soon - The I’m Gonna Soon has a deep need to impress their parents and isn’t above a bit of exaggeration when talking about their accomplishments or achievements. For example, the I’m Gonna Soon would equate modest sales to the likelihood of becoming the next J.K Rowling. The I’m Goona Soon has been known to present themselves as The Helper and frequently offers to do tasks around their parents’ house. Sadly though, this never gets beyond the discussion stage.
I’m obviously joking with the above stereotypes, but now I’ve created them I’m afeared I fit some of the more negative ones. Yikes! Thank goodness that sibling rivalry doesn’t really seem a thing with my own kids and that their ‘daughter’ behaviour is exemplary (most of the time!). I should finish by saying that I DEFINITELY DO NOT have a favourite – Same/Same but different is my motto. I will check this post with a fine toothcomb to make sure that praise and possible insults have been dished out exactly equally! However, girls, if you are reading and do fancy just getting ahead on the ‘favouritism’ stakes I’d be quite happy for the odd touch of The Whirlwind added to a glug of The Listener. I definitely don’t need any of The Critic though – stay well clear of that one!
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Today has been one of those days that I have felt really grateful for. The reason for this isn't becasue a new (well 23 year old) Landrover, purchased from the extremely efficient, helpful team at Landrover Centre Huddersfield - whose cars are extremely good value for money and are actually an investment - (or so Mick tells me anyway), arrived in our drive, thus putting a smile on Saint Mick of Thana's face.
Neither is it because we are now proud owners of a King of all Kings Scalextric Set - opened as an early birthday present for the self-same Saint Mick (honestly, talk about it being a day of 'toys' for boys' and yes, I know that is a sexist comment!)
No, it's actually because Betsy and I had a really enjoyable afternoon with my mum and dad at our local Village Hall, enjoying the music of a popular local singer.
This event was organised by long time Broughton resident Ann Smith, after she had enjoyed a similar event in neighbouring village Waddingham. The singer was a man called Terry Carey, who looked, I thought, somewhere between Jeremy Clarkson and Tom Jones. He had clearly enjoyed his own recent trip to Tenerife as he mentioned it more than once, (we weren't at all jealous!), but had a great voice and was quick with a joke. He sang lots of golden oldies and got everyone hand tapping, singing along, with even a bit of dancing thrown in.
I think if we're honest neither Betsy nor I were really sure if we'd enjoy the afternoon, but we really did. I was actually very proud of Bets. It's not every teenager who'd go along with their grandparents to an event, where almost everyone else in attendance was at least 50 years older than themself. She didn't just go, but she chatted, joined in and, would you believe it, even learned a bit of line-dancing. I just don't know where that 'changeling-child' of ours gets it from. I did text her sister Annie the video clip below and got the response "OMG, you'd never get me up there!" That's more how I'd respond too!
Corny but True Alert ...
The whole thing got me thinking about my question earlier in the week about which is preferable - a sleepy village or bustling city? Well the village certainly wasn't sleepy today and came out on top for several reasons:
Old friendships in a village are formed and literally last a life time. Many of the people in the centre today have known each other upwards of half a century.
Going Against the Grain
A last word, anyone who knows me well, and knows what an introvert I am, will think that they are in a parallell universe. I am not known for enjoying group events. and local community get-togethers are way out of my comfort zone. My blog post on How to be an Avoider, proves this point only too well. I was in people's bad books for weeks after I'd posted it! I guess it just goes to show what a yummy slice of cake, piece of fruit loaf, lemon tart and cup of coffee and some fun entertainment can do to a person!
Thank you Broughton!
I met a dear friend for lunch the other day. This particular friend has made something of a sport of ‘winding me up’. At least that’s what he thinks he is doing. Not so, I just like to humour him by pretending to be cross. (Well most of the time anyway!)
I do wonder how many of his ‘wind up’ comments are said solely to annoy me! If unintentional, the poor man probably spends half his life, when in my company, stepping on egg shells! He did confide to Saint Mick the other day that he is a bit unsure what he is allowed to say in front or to me for fear of being politically incorrect! No doubt he used a phrase like “politically correct nonsense!”
He is is a good few years older than me, so maybe is less enlightened than I. (The irony of that ageist comment has not gone unnoticed.) During our lunch I clearly recall him saying the following:
At first it seems like the old adage that ‘opposites attract’ must be true. However, maybe it isn't just that. During our lunch I was reminded of his kindness and generosity; he asked after our girls and seemed genuinely interested in how they are getting on. (I’m not good at asking about other people’s children and tend to only remember that it would be nice to ask after them once the conversation has ended!) He was gentlemanly, offering me the nicest seat at the table and he was funny, engaging and entertaining making witty banter with the waiter. In addition he was self-effacing and modest when talking about his own life events. Perhaps what swings the pendulum in favour of our friendship is that like me, he is a fan of Saint Mick of Thana! Maybe we are not so ‘opposite after all! Despite his “Un-PC-ness” he is a great guy and has a ‘heart of gold’.
I did seek my friend’s permission about writing this post (though I haven't shown him it) and suggested I might use the title “Friendship - It’s Never Black and White.” True to form he was quick to try to wind me up as he picked me up on my, (arguably!) politically incorrect use of language!
So after sixteen years of schooling, graduation finally came ... and went... for our gorgeous little Betsy. She announced to me just now that she is officially unemployed!
Lots of people have asked me if I'm going to blog about Betsy's graduation, but what to say?... I could blog how we're the proudest parents alive - along with every other proud parent of graduates. I could blog about how time has flown quicker than the blink of an eye, (I'm good at cliches) and how scared and excited I am for her as she embarks on the next chapter of her life. I could blog about how the idea of not having her at home next year sucks, but how I wouldn't swap her having that opportunity for the world ... but that's all way too earnest for me.
Instead here are my very random thoughts, in no particular order, following yesterday's spectacular graduation ceremony at Bangkok Patana School:
To be honest, at times like this my gratitude list is overflowing. Thank you and farewell Bangkok Patana School.