We were in the middle of a heatwave in the south of France.
It was over 40 degrees celsius, and the stifling heat had brought every man and woman out of their boudoirs to congregate en masse at the local pool.
It was an Official Pool Policy to have a shower before you entered the pool area. And on entry, it was a prerequisite to wade through a shallow crystal pond to double cleanse one’s feet. Unlike it would be in Australia, the rule was strictly adhered to, with everyone arriving freshly showered and ready to walk calmly through the pond.
The pool itself was a pristine little oblong, maybe ten metres by five metres.
It was a shimmering diamond, closely guarded by the resident lifeguard, who I coined Monsieur Rottweiler. Not because he looked anything like a Rottweiler but because his temperament (cranky and pugnacious, even in a different language) was like a Rottweiler.
(I have since been told that Rottweiler’s are actually very loveable and friendly, but I digress).
Monsieur Rottweiler patrolled the perimeter of the pool. It was already packed, so every time the pool door would swing open, revealing a new entourage of pool guests, his expression would darken, a fresh bead of sweat appearing on his brow.
It seemed as if he was losing control.
He viciously punched a telephone number into his phone (an old school Nokia) and fired off a rapid deluge in French.
“Eh Gaston! I can’t control them anymore! There are a minimum of 30 heads in the pool now and I am losing count. I am officially requesting back up, sir! I need it now, stat!”, I imagined him saying.
Seated opposite Michael, Hakavai and I, are the couple I name Monsieur and Madame Peacock.
Madame Peacook fluffed her greying hair, preening and primping before opening a newspaper. Monsieur Peacock, who was not a tall man, postulated and gesticulated in his speedos.
His speedos were saggy though, and when he went to sit down there was a clear ten centimetre gap between the speedo suit and the skin of his bottom. I could see straight through to the Madame reading the newspaper behind him.
Another Frenchman proudly strolled through the automatic glass sliding doors. He was wearing a soft and fluffy white robe, and had the air of a benevolent dictator as he walked through the crystal pond.
Unfortunately, because of the fifty or so people preceding him, an excess of water had been splashed out of the pond.
It was on this errant water that the French Monsieur lost his balance and slipped.
In Australia, we’d say he fell arse over tit.
An audible gasp rang out around the pool.
Monsieur and Madame Peacock clutched each other in alarm, the Madame dramatically raising her newspaper protectively over her hair, shrieking loudly.
And pushing his way through the frozen crowd came Monsieur Rottweiler, squeaking his whistle repeatedly as sweat ran freely down his beetroot forehead, his arms waving wildly above his head.
But, as he bustled towards the pond, Monsieur Rottweiler’s foot also slipped in the pool of water on the tiles, and just as the man got to his feet, Monsieur Rottweiler collided against him, sending them both careening to the ground.
And as the silence deepened, ringing in almost tangible waves through the crowd, Michael looked at me.
“Time to go, eh darl?”
No action to take today. Just a few memories of a pre-COVID travelling life.
Hope you enjoyed!
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