Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Proper pool rules

Not, as you might expect, instructions on what to do if the white and black balls both go down off the break, but something I think you Need To Know About Swimming In France.

Last October, in desperate need of a swim and with all the water parks closed for the season, we drove to Bergerac. (It's a seriously beautiful place with at least one Ramsay-esque restaurant and several big-nosed statues in quiet, tree-lined squares, but that's not important right now.)

We found the public pool, parked and paid.

Boys going one way and girls the other, I retrieved my towel and swimming shorts from The Bag and picked up one of those metal clothes-hanger-cum-shoe-basket affairs I haven't seen since the 70s.

Then I noticed the look of undisguised horror on the faces of the people behind the counter.

They pointed at me and spoke in rapid French. The gist of which was: You can't swim.

As it happens, I can swim. Not fast, but well. I also have a card that gives me permission to sink, with a tank of air strapped to my back, anywhere in the world, no questions asked.

"C'est pas propre," they were saying. Which I translated literally.

Seeing my lack of understanding, they pointed repeatedly at the poster on the wall.

There, in black and white for all the world to see, were many illustrations you would expect to see in any public pool. And two that you would not: a pair of shorts with a cross next to them, and a pair of trunks with a tick.

I stood, speechless, holding my shorts.

Fortunately, the French, as you will have read, are not backward in coming forward to help, and after a few moments' frantic activity, a pair of trunks was produced the like of which I also haven't seen since the 70s.

They were handed to me, with a triumphant: "Ça. C'est propre."

You have been warned.

2 comments:

Simon Hilton said...

Take a hot tip from the Hoff in formal european poolwear. I always like to dress this way before taking the piscine.

http://agodamongmen.com/images/hasselhoff.jpg

AlphaMum said...

What? No photos?!