These charity wristbands piss me right off.
Go ahead, call me uncharitable, but my GAYE (heh, gay) contributions state otherwise. I’ve been out shaking buckets on World Aids’ Day, walked, baked and occasionally shut the hell up, all in the name of charity. That doesn’t make me better than anyone else. There are plenty of other things about me that take care of that.
The root of my discontent lies not in some anti-fashion agenda to be cooler than thou, nor does it come from bitterness over an allergy to cheap rubber. No, to find the real reason we have to delve a little deeper into both my past and my psyche, two places where you must be this high to ride; pregnant women and those with heart conditions are advised not to proceed, etc.
Where I come from, i.e. the middle of nowhere with no much in the way of culture, the only social activities we had to choose from as nippers were rolling around in the muck, or going “to the baths”. I wouldn’t like to speculate on why it was “baths” instead of “pool”, but I think it was less to do with the Romans, and more with the intermittent personal hygiene habits of some of my schoolmates. God I can hear my mother now, “it’s one thing to be poor, but there’s no excuse for being dirty”, generally whilst scraping off several layers of grime and epidermis from either my brother or myself.
So off to the baths we would duly go, once a week at most. Sunday morning was always my favourite, since all the good Catholics were at mass and my Protestant grandfather liked nothing more than to ‘corrupt’ our prayerful lives and upset my mother. So we’d cry and whinge until we were allowed to have swimming and a giant breakfast after instead of a boring, knee-cracking sermon from the doddery Canon.
I don’t know if this particular system made its way outside the environs of Lanarkshire, but since our Council never had the brightest crayons in the box, it’s likely our municipal guidelines were simply pinched from elsewhere. Anyway, upon pitching up at the baths and paying your 50 pence for an hour or so of swimming, you had to exchange your locker key for a gaudy plastic band. Staying in past your time was never really an option. The lifeguards were like ninjas, the moment you splashed near to a side, they were on you: either humiliating you out of the pool with barked orders and insults; or plucking you out by the swimsuit straps/waistband like a dying flounder. One such occasion of being slapped down on the tiles after merely attempting a kick turn was enough to leave you knowing not to mess around. So at the shout of “WHITE BANDS OUT THE POOL PLEASE”, you knew you absolutely had to haul ass, all the while making it look like you were neither bothered nor scared.
So if I laugh in your face when I see you respective coloured pieces of rubber hanging round your wrist, it’s really nothing personal. I’m just masking the reliving of my childhood traumas, and it’s nothing at all to do with you being a trend-slaved ponce. Honest.