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An outing to the London Fields Lido to take advantage of the first summer of 2008. The first summer usually lasts about a week and takes place in May. The second summer usually lasts about a week and takes place in September. Between lie torrential rain, hail, hurricane, snow, floods, plague, pestilence, sleepy, grumpy, doc, dave, dee, dozy, beaky, mick and titch.

The Lido has been beautifully renovated, and feels almost Australian when it's sunny and over 20c. We had a great swim, my daughter R bedecked in armbands and a rubber ring, me with a float around my ankles (stops my feet scraping on the rough tiles on the bottom of the pool), and Penny pulling us up and down like a family tug. Once out of the pool, I sat with R and watched as Pen swam a few lengths.

 The swimming pool is another of those bitter-sweet environments. Whereas the playground experience gets easier as R gets more confident, it's going to be an awfully long time until I can take her swimming on my own. Watching dads taking their toddlers for a swim, and hoisting them on to the hip, or throwing them in the air, all these things pull at me. They pierce the protective layer painstakingly built up over the last three years, and suddenly it's all fresh and new again. In truth this happens a little less frequently these days, but summer will  increase the potential for such sharp reminders.

If you're wondering why I'm so maudlin, it may be in part excused by the ominous rumble of my 40th birthday, groaning and wheezing as it comes lumbering over the horizon. It is tomorrow. With this in mind I should like to take this opportunity to unveil the first phase of my mid-life crisis...


(Rest assured, I shall NOT be sporting leather trousers any time soon)

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Happy late birthday Tim. Hope it was fun. I remember the pain over swimming. I used to go to Highbury Fields every weekend to be a shark or monster. In Devizes, we had "fun with floats", where I had to topple the children off their mats, and do dolphin dives to the bottom of the pool, a child being dragged along behind me. I thought I'd lost all this after my accident. And yet it turns out I haven't. We have brilliant fun in the pool and the kids make no allowances for the fact that I have no feeling from my armpits down. Incredibly exhausting, but fantastic! Your children just want to be with you. It won't matter that you can't throw them in the air. What's important is that you care, that you're there.

Ohhhhh, nice tatt! Is this the one for sorrow?

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