Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Go straight to Rosie's.

(aka Brixton Rec)
27 Brixton Station Rd
London SW9 8QQ
020 7926 9779
Added bonus: Market Row
Points off for: the pool.

If you noticed that the photo above is not pool-related, well done, take the rest of the day off. If you thought it was pool related, where the hell are you swimming?  It’s a cup of coffee, of course, a flat white since you ask, more of which later.

You'll know by now that I don’t usually shy away from a bad joke, but I’m trying not to say ‘Brixton Wreck more like!’ partly because it’s so naff it makes my verrucas twinge* and partly because it’s not really true any more. Yes, faithful readers, I have history with this pool. I know, you’re patient, you’ve followed round all the pools I’ve been to before, and listened to me wiffling on about my swimming history, and I do thank you for that, I am grateful for your attentions. In brief, when Clapham Manor pool was open, it was often closed, and then in absolute desperation I’d come here, but only rarely because it was so shit - literally, there were always tales about turds in the water, though I never witnessed a floater myself.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Willes Pool

Grafton Road
London NW5 3DU
020 7974 7000

Turns out, I didn’t have such a raucous 20s after all. Doing this blog I’m coming to realize how many pools I swam in during those years, and I’m disappointed in my younger self. I used to live in Kentish Town, so I knew where this pool was without looking it up. I trolled down the street and stopped at the impressive redbrick gothic building, yep, that’s it, memory served me well – it says ‘Public Baths’ up there, in fancy gold, looks better than it did, smarter.  I tried the doors, newly painted in restoration French grey. Hmm. Locked. I poked my head around the corner and saw a sign to a much more modest entrance, a ramped stone walkway with inlaid lights.  Behind a modern reception desk a man with the cheery demeanour of a Chuckle Brother welcomes me back, tells me I’d need £400,000 if I wanted to go in the original way - it’s been sold for flats. I sigh like I did when I saw that what used to be Ken’ish Tahn’s lovely independent Owl Bookshop is now a Tesco. He pointed me to a leaflet celebrating the first year of the pool’s refurb, and assured me that it’s all much improved. I’ll be the judge of that,  I thought snarkily, and handed over a comparatively moderate £4.50 to swim.

Monday, 12 September 2011


221 The Highway
City of London E1W 3BP
020 7709 9714
Added bonus: The DLR. Cheap. (£3.60)
Negative points: check school lesson times. Also, the non-returnable locker thing (see below).

Shadwell. Say it a bit Welsh, in a homage to the John Sparkes character of the olden comedy days. If posh people lived here, they would probably call it Shadders. But they don’t, not a one. I used to, on the 17th floor – great views - of one of two tower blocks that dominated the area then, with a man who eventually asked me to leave because I made the bathroom floor too wet when I got out of the bath. Now I’m older and wiser and have my own bathroom floor which gets wet from other people, I see how wrong it all was, and wish to humbly apologise via this blog.*

Monday, 5 September 2011

Casual swimming

Highbury Crescent
London N5 1RR
020 7704 2312
Negative: Overheard: ‘It’s vay dirty, considering how much you pay for membership’.
Warning: quite a lot of preamble.

When one’s children are small, one does things that one might not otherwise chose to do: to pass the time, knacker them out, attempt to maintain adult relationships, to bitterly cling on to what one deemed a life, as if the life one had before children suddenly on their birth became so retrospectively brilliant its passing must be mourned.  In that joyful spirit of acceptance, I used to meet my old friend Robert, whose son was about the same age as mine, in the playground of Highbury Fields, on the understanding that they would play while we chatted, laughed, heads back ha ha ha, discussed creative ideas. Our understanding, note, not theirs. Actually our whole time was spent trying to maintain peace, rubbing elbows and knees saying ‘oh, that didn’t hurt just a little scratch’, yelling NO DON’T HIT STOP GET DOWN, sighing tiredly and doling out bits of organic dried mango where they craved beef jerky. Once, it was too wet for the playground so we took them swimming to Highbury Pools, narrowing our chances of conversation even further, even though my lovely successful Alpha-in-every-other-way Male friend hated swimming, couldn’t, actually, but that didn’t matter as we didn’t get much chance to have both legs off the bottom of the pool anyway.