Dom Joly: Danger - unidentified floating objects

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The Independent Online

From The Maldives to West Somerset - we'd promised the kids a holiday when Stacey and I got back from ours. So we took them to visit their great-aunt in Minehead. I know, The Maldives was probably the better deal, but I do love West Somerset and I wanted my kids to see it. In a single day, I took the kids up on to Exmoor to look at the wild ponies, down to the seaside for a spot of sandcastle-building, into some beautiful woods for a picnic, off to swim in clear rivers, and finished the day off with a cream tea in a picture-perfect garden overlooking the village of Dunster and its beautiful castle. It was heaven, well, apart from the river-swimming bit. Allow me to explain.

I'd normally go somewhere remote for swimming, but we had the kids and there's a dearth of great swimming spots there so we chose a pool with a car park where some people had already assembled. It was brilliant for paddling and, as it was a hot day, both kids stripped off and dived into the cold water.

Parker, my eldest, is a great swimmer and was ducking and diving about quite happily. Jackson, being just two is also a keen water baby, but slightly less able to swim around on his own. As Great-Aunt and Stacey gazed adoringly down from a nearby bridge, I helped him paddle in the shallows. It was a perfect family scene and several elderly rambling couples had soon stopped on the bridge to coo at it. On the other side of the river, a romantically inclined couple were canoodling quietly in the water. This was summer at its best.

Jackson then sat down in the water, submerging himself up to his chest. I rushed to help him but he seemed blissfully happy, a big smile on his face. I relaxed but then noticed the cause of his happiness.

Floating, but sadly not moving anywhere, were two enormous, perfectly formed turds. Jackson got up and wandered off to inspect something on the riverbank leaving me standing right by the evidence. I tried signalling to Stacey but she just waved back happily. I was alone. I felt a bead of sweat start making its way down my back. All I could see were two enormous brown floaters waving hello at me from the crystal-clear water. I looked around again. No one had seen anything... yet.

I couldn't pick them up as, although solid, I figured that, once out of water, they'd dissolve in my hands leaving me with a worse situation. I tried to move them downstream by wafting my feet underwater but they weren't budging. The next people into the river would spot them immediately. I could see the headline: "Comedian craps in local beauty spot..."

I decided to act. I took two large stones from the bottom of the river and slowly tried to use them to pin the floaters to the riverbed. After three attempts, I just about managed it although their brown tails peeked out from underneath. I didn't have much time. To the surprise of everyone around the river pool, I suddenly grabbed Jackson and shouted at Parker to get out as though I'd just spotted a shark.

Stacey started to enquire as to what the hurry was? Parker was crying but I didn't care. We had to get to the car and escape before the floaters broke free. I managed to get everyone into the car but, in my panic, I mistimed my reverse and smashed what was Stacey's car into a fence post where it remained stuck. Stacey was screaming at me and a crowd assembled. They were pointing and shouting about something to the rest of the crowd who were looking at us. Had the floaters been found? I gunned the engine again and managed to get free by ripping the back bumper off.

Stacey had gone almost mental by now and was trying to grab the wheel while hitting me. The kids were crying and their great-aunt was definitely starting to regret our visit. "I'll explain later!" I screamed, shoving Stacey off me as we roared out of the car park on two wheels.

They fuck you up your mum and dad... well, your dad does anyway.