Thoughts from the bottom of the pool

Contemplation of life and death, set in a small health and fitness club

Friday, September 29, 2006

The Three Sisters

There are three sisters who swim here sometimes. Perhaps they are deaf, these Sirens. For whatever reason they shout at each other. It’s ear splitting. It’s only a few decibels above the threshold of pain, but it really hurts. I think they are sisters because they all look, and sound the same; same hairstyles, same black one piece swimsuits.

They don’t swim much at all. They stand and shout at each other at one end of the pool. Its as if they have grown up fighting for attention, and now even in middle age every conversation is still cacophony and a competition.

I get my head under the water and try and concentrate on my meditation. But even at the other end of the pool with water above my head I can still hear them. Occasionally they will do a length.

The younger one with the thighs dimpled like orange peel, does not actually swim. She walks with her legs, making swimming movements with her arms. All the time still engaged in the verbal arm wrestle of the trio.

Eventually they get out of the pool disappear into the sauna, and an azure peace descends upon the pool. I swim in the pale blue neon light. Counting as I go.

I ignore the red raw sore,
Time has scratched into my skin,
With it’s cruel claws.

I forget the child I was
Now- like dead skin-
That child has become dust.

Time to be something changed,
Think something new,
Say a word never said before.

I am only on length 84 but I am feeling knackered. I really want to stop, get out and flop into the sauna like a salmon in a smoke shed. But I try to keep going.


My prep school number. I remember the suit and the boater, the fountain pen and the weirdest thing of all . . . standing at the school and watching my Dad driving the tractor along the village.

I mean I could actually see my house -but I couldn’t go home.


In brass tacks on the soles of my shoes, a tuck box, a tweed suit, wanting to be wanted, but trying to be invisible.

It's a big number, 85. It has haunted me all my life, if I see it on a door, or I get to page 85, or I see any written number of 85 and I am back there. A confused and unhappy dhild wrestling with my self hood.

If you want to know more about the effect of boardng school I would like to point you in the direction of:

Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2004, 49, 683–705

"Boarding school: the trauma of the ‘privileged’ child"

By Joy Schaverien, Leicester, UK

I am on length 100 and I am committed to 40 more. I really want to give up and sit in the sauna. My gut aches slightly and I try another length under water. I normally love this existential pale blue and white mosaic anaesthesia, but today I really want to get out.

Life will finish when you give up. I will not give up. I force my way through the next 40. I feel dead on length 112, Don’t worry, when it’s for real I will be.

The three sisters emerge from the sauna and waddle up the stairs, shouting at each other as they go. I wish I was as care less as they seem to be. Just shout whatever comes into my head out loud.

But that's not what I want.


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