Swimming is a bit like going to the pub sometimes. The experience is enhanced by seeing familiar faces and the odd casual conversation. Like going to the pub, though, sometimes a friendly conversation suddenly becomes uncomfortable.
Today I was chatting to a lady in the Kentish Town pool who started bemoaning that she had forgotten her flipflops, but at least it was clean here unlike in Stoke Newington where she lived. Excited to have found a fellow N16-NW5 criss-crosser I said that I’d always found the Clissold Pool clean. She said ‘Oh do you think so, I’ve seen sand in the bottom’ then said ‘the problem is the kinds of people who go there’. Oh dear. I said ‘well I can’t really complain about the cleanliness of the water as I voluntarily swim in the Ladies’ pond’ . She said ‘Oh do you, so do I’ and then ensued a conversation about temperatures, all the while my thinking ‘go away you stupid bigot’. If there’s one thing I can’t stand more than people who are brainlessly judgemental, it’s people who are inconsistent. If you have such a problem with sharing your space with ‘the types of people’ (eg you and me) who use public pools, because they get dirty, then how do you feel about sharing it with ducks and other pond life? If you think the Clissold Pool’s not kept clean enough by GLL staff, then what kind of job do you think mother nature’s doing in the pond?
I’m afraid I didn’t challenge her, on the completely cowardly grounds that I didn’t want to waste my energy on a confrontation with someone so obviously stupid. At the end, she said ‘well I’ll be seeing you around, here or in the ponds’. I gave a weak smile rather than saying ‘not if I see you first you brainless, horrible cow’. Sorry.