Toddler Who Must Be Obeyed has taken to water like a duck wearing armbands. We’ve had a couple of sessions at the pool in the Metropolis. The first one wasn’t a great success. It involved lots of furrowing of the brow and standing around observing. The second trip saw her warm to the surroundings.
There was splashing and giggling and a brave venture onto a slide quickly turned into an addiction. It’s at this point I should admit I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Taking Toddler Swimming, regulation fatherly duty number 12. (The first eleven include things like doing the recycling and ushering big spiders from the house.)
You see, in primary school I had swimming lessons, mastered the basics and got a certificate.
No other meaningful swimming has taken place since. I’ve always viewed swimming as something you do in an emergency, not for fun.
But the trips with TWMBO have changed my tune and I can’t wait for the next splashy session. One of the great spin offs of going swimming in the big city is the café at the sports centre. You get proper coffee and can snack on cheese, oatcakes and grapes. It’s thoroughly civilised! The café even has a view of the athletics track. I think there should be a coin slot for entertainment so you can insert 50p and out spring a couple of runners who race in front of you while you sit back Caesar-like popping grapes.
The sports centre has recently become a regular haunt, not just with TWMBO and her armbands but because I’ve been - brace yourself - going to the gym. One of the effects of having a kid is time pressure and I’m afraid over the past couple of years there have been too many occasions when a planned bike ride has had the brakes put on or when a delicious, healthy dinner gave way to fish and chips or a pot of tea and a packet of Jaffa Cakes.
These days I feel like a Big Green Dad. I want to get back to being appropriately proportioned. In the way I’ve historically viewed swimming as being an emergency activity, I’ve viewed gyms as either grim chore houses or intimidating palaces of posers. It turns out the Inverness Leisure Centre is frequented by normal people.
I was invited to sign up for a programme which apparently gets very competitive. The machines in the gym record your progress with some sort of running total of ‘fit points’. Not my cup of isotonic drink, I’m afraid. I just want rid of the wee belly I’ve developed and stronger arms which have evolved into lightweight button pressing spindles after years of sitting at typewriters, computers and tape editing machines.
Just a few years ago my lovely comfy rut involved going to the pub every Friday night, sinking generous quantities of red wine, pate and cheese on Sunday nights, reading a book a week, watching almost a film a day and sitting up till all hours listening to complicated jazz.
These days I nod off when In The Night Garden comes on at 6.20pm, I watch maybe three films a month and I love going to the gym.
They say having kids changes your life. They’re not kidding!