Thursday, January 29, 2009

Swimming pool blues

January 30th 2009

It’s a stunningly beautiful Sydney day with all those clichés of Australian life as imagined from the UK. Startling blue sky and temperatures in the high 20’s/low 30’s, the sunshine plus the reviving sea breeze make it a pleasure to be outside. Melbourne and Adelaide are having a heat wave and I feel my flesh sweating in sympathy at the thought of nights where the temperature stays up at unbearable levels. Melbourne has had the third day in a row with temperatures over 40 oC (104 oF). Yesterday I was listening to an ABC reporter commenting on the Australian Open Tennis that is currently on in Melbourne, spare a thought for the players and audiences who are presumably watching every bounce of the ball through a haze of perspiration. As an aside to his tennis talk the reporter mentioned he had gone down to the ocean for a swim at midnight and the water had been full of people. In my mind’s eye I have a picture of a dark night and black forms bobbing around, sighing with relief at the exquisite coolness of the water on their bodies.

I should be in a buoyant mood, great temperature, sunshine, children at school, non working day, even the normally pesky dog is prone in a heap of black fur, too hot to do anything but roll an eye at me. However I have been reduced to fury by the swimming pool – or rather the swimming pool gadget shop man. The girls are in the pool constantly after school and it has suddenly gone a rather bilious green colour and looks frankly more garden pond than sparkling turquoise haven. In my usual negligent maternal way I have been ignoring the green, opaque, sullen looking water and letting the children swim, but this morning common sense prevailed and given it is going to be a hot weekend and the one thing I hate more than anything is sick children, I thought I should do something about it before we a) start our own personal algae bloom or b) the frogs that are thriving in the pool and that we seem to be catching most mornings start breeding or c) we start the first Mosman cholera epidemic for 100 years.

I should explain that Tony ‘the pool man’ whom we inherited with the house normally looks after the pool. He comes every couple of weeks and usually that’s fine. As a result I take very little interest in pool maintenance – I liken it to the car, so long as it works I’m happy, I don’t need to understand the intricacies of why it goes. If I wanted to know I could but it happens to be a subject in which I have no interest.

Our local garden centre has a pool shop and I marched up there clutching a water bottle full of noxious pool water. The water was tested with much sucking of teeth and casting eyes up to heaven, whilst the shop owner peppered me with technical questions about type of pool, volume, dimensions, water composition etc.. Of course as ever when I am conscious I am struggling with a situation the place fills with a pack of people avid to listen to every word of the unfolding comedy of the Mosman housewife who knows nothing about her pool. I managed to field most of the questions though I did startle the assembled company somewhat when I declared the pool was 20 metres long rather than 20 ft. The pool was of course declared completely unfit to swim in and in fact I suspect he was giving my skin sidelong glances in case I was peeling like a lizard as an after effect of my latest dip. Large bottles of chemicals appeared on the counter all with complex instructions about what I should do with each and when. It won’t come as any surprise that this wasn’t a cheap little outing and I marched home in an absolute fury and flung the tub marked “Shock Treatment” – I kid you not that’s its name, into the pool. The rest of the complex instructions will have to be followed over the next couple of days. I have decided Tony the pool man is worth his weight in gold or indeed liquid chlorine which seems to be almost as expensive as any precious metal. I have no desire to become an expert in pH levels nor to know the volume of my pool down to the last cubic metre. In the meantime I am off to the beach where at least I don’t have to worry too much about the toxic quality of the water and I know for sure it’s a salt water environment as opposed to a chlorine one which was one of the tricky questions I had to answer! And by tomorrow the pool better be blue and sparkling or else shock treatment won't begin to cover my reaction.

1 comment:

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