In at the deep end

I always wanted Jacques Cousteau to visit Balham Baths.

I watched his documentaries with interest and knew there must be something of aquatic attraction lurking in the chlorine of SW17?

I wanted him to transport Calypso all the way from the south of France to the mysterious depths of the deep end of my local swimming baths.

What would Jacques (and Phillippe) expect to find at the bottom of the baths?  A discarded pair of pyjamas?  A coelacanth?  An unreliable set of water-wings?

At secondary school we had to travel a million miles to Latchmere Baths.  It always worried me that the next door building was the Battersea Coroner’s Court.  This didn’t encourage you to want to be the next Johnny Weissmüller; they might as well have named it “The Dr Crippen Swimming Baths”.

Until I discovered that telling the teacher you had a verruca would get you out of swimming, I had visions of my trunks laying on a ceramic slab with giant Victorian lights looking down and the only thing on the wall being a 1969 Mark Spitz calendar.

I’d have made my own version of the TV series and named it “The Undersea World of Mike Richards”, except we were too poor to own a float and I was always worried I’d develop webbed feet.

Joyeuses vacances

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