“Get your trunks and suncream on we’re going out and no, it’s not downstairs to the wee invested kiddie pool before you ask. I’ve booked us all a ‘bugger Covid’ treat”.
Two sets of eyes look up from the sofa but bottoms remain firmly attached to the Draylon. Top Gear is in full swing. What could possibly compete with watching 3 Middle Aged men with thinning hair cavort through France on a supermarket trolly in a race to buy the last buttered croissant?
“We’re going scuba diving!!” I yell, trying to invoke some excitement into the immobile forms in front of me.
“We’ve not done that for over 4 years madre” my son sighs. “Do they actually have wetsuits big enough to fit you now you’ve expanded? We’ll have to do a refresher course or dad will have a panic attack again”
“That water was bloody cold, it was just a sodding shock that’s all! I’m not as confident as you two are. My dad wasn’t the man from Atlantis like yours Paula!” The elder male yells all this as he storms off to find more digestives. The door slams dramatically behind him.
I sigh, smile through gritted teeth and raise my voice so I can be heard throughout the newly rented flat.
“We’re going to have a nice family day out whether you like it or not without the need for telephones or TV’s or PlayStations. Now if you would all be so kind as to get your bloody swimwear on forthwith or I will personally rip every plug off every device and hurl them out the window! I’ll be waiting in the car. Don’t forget your masks!!”
Two hours later we are all huddled round a mini bus listening to a forthright northern lady explaining how best to breathe under water without the aid of gills. There are 6 of us in total, the other 3 comprise of a Scottish father and son, whose accent is so strong that we all just smile and nod whenever he poses a question and behind him loiters a supermodel from Hawaii. I shuffle away from the stunning creature and place myself between the instructor and my set of tanks and listen to the instructions on how not to die and what not to touch.
Wet suits are handed out and we all gingerly place our feet inside. Closing my eyes I drag the ensemble over my hips and suck my stomach in as much as my non-existent muscles allow. Jiggling my torso I inch it up until the zip is in place and I hastily tug it up around my shoulders and squeeze my bingo wings into the second skin. Encouraged by my own ability to not have fallen over In the process, I catch sight of myself in the rear view mirror and i stop mid smile and stare at the apparition before me. A pregnant seal in a scrunchie. Behind me the ‘Hawain Princess’ glides by in a suit the size of my left thigh and bends over to put her boots on. I can feel beads of perspiration begin to form.
“Marcus… MARCUS! You’re going to help me get my footwear on, I can’t reach my feet!!”
My husband isn’t listening, he’s too busy admiring himself in the window of a parked car. He’s the only person on Earth to have lost weight during the pandemic and I can mentally hear him mumble ‘how YOU doing?’ as he strokes his flat torso ensconced in the man made skin. I poke him unceremoniously in the back.
“Will you stop preening and help me get these sodding boots on!” Sweat is dripping down my back and I can feel the anxiety of middle age creeping in.
My son is already suited up and jumping off rocks into the sea with the instructors assistant. I smile inwardly as I see the Scots attempting the highland fling whilst wriggling into their suits and I breathe deeply and await the final instructions.
“Right everyone, let’s get those tanks on your backs, make sure you all check your buddy out. No going off on your own, make sure your partner is next to you. We’ll split into two groups”
I look pointedly at my son who mouths ‘what?’ I know once he’s in the sea he will suddenly become Aquaman, diving in and out of every nook and cranny in search of the elusive Kraken without a thought for the person floundering without oxygen beside him.
The sea looks like an infinite stretch of blue glass and I stagger to the waters edge like an ancient turtle sporting a metal shell. On command I inflate my buoyancy device and place my mouthpiece in. Inhaling the oxygen into my mouth i remind myself not to breathe through my nose. A peacefulness envelopes me and I give the hand gesture that everything is fine.
Slowly we deflate the air on our shoulders and our multi-shaped bodies slip down under the water, size no longer matters as we become one with the fishes.
All the noise from the tourists on the shore become non-existent and the world which we try so hard to control slips away from our grasp as a new universe begins.
Multicoloured fish pass by our goggles without fear or apprehension, accepting these flippered interlopers as one of their own. Gliding through the depths I suddenly remember how much I love this activity. My husband points at the seabed as an octopus propels itself through a bed of rocks. My son is ahead of me, steaming though the water like a silky seal. My body is weightless and I greedily look around at what nature has managed to keep sacred for millions of years.
The instructor gestures us all to pass through two caverns in single file and I stay happily at the back, confident in my ability to manoeuvre my ample buttocks through the crevice. I kick my heels like an underwater Dorothy and I feel something slip out from behind me. Stopping in my tracks I turn to see something sat on the sea bed. It’s blue. It looks like a flipper. Someone’s lost a flipper. I shake my head in amazement. Who could be so silly as to loose a flipper and not notice it had gone. I turn back and struggle down to retrieve it from the seabed. Grabbing it I turn to swim back up to join my companions but I don’t appear to be moving. I kick my legs again but stay sat immobile on the seabed. Suddenly I realise my I’m going nowhere. The missing flipper is mine.
To be continued…
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