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Where I Learned to Swim
Where I Learned to Swim

I was taught to swim in Dovecot baths.
Where the chlorine was thick in the air.
We were ducked and bombed for fun.
The lifeguards just didn’t care.

I survived the ordeal and learned front crawl.
At diving in from the side, I became adept.
I gave the breast stroke the best shot I had.
But watching my butterfly most people wept.

We got changed and handed in our baskets.
Through the footbath and out in to the noise.
Kids screeching and howling and whistles blowing.
And loads of teenage girls screaming at boys.

A numbered safety pin located our clothes.
Pin it to your trunks and lose it at your peril.
Once in a while the lifeguard would shout ‘All clear’.
As the noise was so loud and the kids were feral.

Budgie smugglers hadn’t been invented then.
So, we swam in nylon and cotton.
Mine had been hand-me-downs.
When I first wore them, they were rotten.

We’d not dried properly when we got dressed.
So, our clothes clung to our skin like paint.
The place was so humid and clammy.
There were times when I thought I would faint.

To the café we headed with our hunger raging.
Eccles cake or biscuit, the choice was quite restricted.
A Bovril or a Cocoa would quench our thirst.
We’d go back every week as we’d become addicted.

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