My blog is a year old! Who’d have thought it, my baby *wipes eyes* Now who wants cake? (the cake above was for my birthday last year. A Tooting Lido cake, what could be better? Eternal gratitude to the ever-glorious Maria Von Cake. )
In the last year, I’ve swum in 46 London pools, which is, at a rough guess, 40 too many. A few are great, some of them… well, let’s just say the words ‘fun pool’ will forever strike a chill in my heart. Flumes? Shudder. So far, a total of 870 of my minutes* was spent in Changing Villages, 560* of those 870 in showers of such piddling power it’s a wonder I ever get actually clean. I’ve straddled drains and swum through semi-skimmed milk, and I’ve been followed by some particularly persistent long black hair right across the capital.
*This is a made-up statistic.
And now, at the end of this first glorious year, it’s AWARDS TIME. Drag out your best gold lame costume, boys, and dig out your high-heeled flip flops. Yes, people, I have invented my very own Pool Oscars. In memory of John Cheever, who wrote the short story The Swimmer, I am inaugurating The Cheevers, random made-up categories for the best and worst of what I’ve seen. High Cheevers are good, and Low Cheevers are, natch, bad.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2012 Swimming Round London Cheevers are as follows:
Best outdoor pool of the year: Tooting Lido. *slurs* I bloody love you, Tooting Lido. I’m under no obligation to put it first, even though it was represented on my birthday cake, and I am a member and swim there as often as possible. It’s SIMPLY THE BEST *sways with lighter* Also ran: London Fields Lido, and surprise new entry from Uxbridge Lido.
Best indoor pool: Crystal Palace. (Special commendation for my friend Jackie for swimming with me there on Monday nights.) Also ran: Marshall St Baths, for making me say 'vibes'.
Best sign: Tooting Leisure Centre: In the showers, customers are asked to refrain from spitting, shaving, and leaving children unaccompanied. I’ve never used a swimming pool shower as a crèche, but so many have, it seems, it's warranted a sign. (I'm saying nowt about spitting and shaving.) Runner-up with best 'lane-divider sign': Kensington Leisure Centre.
Best costume seen: Camberwell Baths; a red, frilled one-shoulder number, complemented by the double plaits tied on top of the head of the wearer.
Best snack facilities: Brixton Rec, but not at the pool. Run, run like the WIND to Rosie's Deli (or other places in Market Row, where the deli is. It's dead good.) Also ran: bacon butties at Hampton Court lido, even though is quicker to go home and make your own.
Best men’s changing facilities: Jubilee Leisure Centre (Special commendation to Adam for research.)
Best picture to accompany a blog post: Parliament Hill Lido sketch, from Darren Hayman. I LOVE that sketch. And look out for his summer lido project, music-lovin people.
Most unexpected: Shadders? Shadders on me lungs? Must be the 33m thing. In which case, I also commend Morden Park Pools.
Best 'thing' even though it was broken: the orange plastic drying booth at Pools on the Park.
Those were the cheers. Now for the tears.
Worst pool of the year: quite a few contenders for this. Worse, though, was Waterfront. This also wins 'most kiddified pool'. Also ran: Brentford Leisure Centre
Worst behaviour in pool: snotting in to the drain, at Peckham Pulse (IT WASN’T ME, before you ask).
Pool that least lives up to its name: Seven Islands Leisure Centre. The only islands in sight are traffic islands, on the way there.
Worst women's changing rooms: Peckham Pulse, link as above. Closely followed by Highbury Pools, but that was good for memory, which gave it extra points.
Worst quality of water: Archway was milkily grim.
Least inviting picture of a pool: Thornton Heath At the bottom of the blog. Traffic, basically.
Biggest but most deserving rant: wait for it, wait for it ... This year's prize goes to ... the lovely Latchmere pool, beloved of all in South London! Congratulations, the Latchmere, and may I never go back there. Mwah mwah.
Here's to another happy year of blogging, after a well-deserved rest. *waves from back of limo*