I love the holidays, apart from the razor blades in the pool and the shotgun

Sunday 25 July 2004 00:00

Summer holidays are here. Well, they are for my daughter, not for me the yawning chasm of a three-month holiday. She is out of school, bursting with energy and desperate to be entertained. This is where a dad occasionally has to pull his weight.

Our first outing was to "the big yellow swimming pool," which is her name for the local public swimming pool. To be frank, it's seen better days but Parker likes it because there is a big yellow slide that snakes its way around the building before depositing the rider into a mixture of urine and overly chlorinated water. Parker is obsessed with the slide and we have to do it about 40 times before I can distract her and sneak off for a couple of pints of very strong cider.

I need the alcohol because every time I go down the slide I'm thinking about the story of someone sticking razor blades to it using chewing gum. I have no idea if this is just an urban myth but I tense, what passes for muscles in my back, as I hurtle down the thing just waiting for the blades to dice me up.

I do suffer from a vivid imagination. Only the other day I parked the four-wheel drive on the lawn of the dean of Cirencester's house as it's just next to the coffee shop. I know that I should park in the proper place like everyone else but I'm always so busy. Anyway, I could have sworn that he was angry with me. He came out swearing and cursing and kicking my car. He's probably having a hard time at work and just needs to vent. I'm cool with that. I know it's nothing personal. I offered to come down to the church and do some stand-up to help him get some punters in but he went really ballistic and actually produced a shotgun so I left it at that.

Meanwhile, back at the pool, Parker had made friends with a heavily tattooed child who was about the same age as her. I tried to sneak off for some more cider but was frog-marched back to the pool by the tattooed kid's equally tattooed father, who claimed that Parker had pushed his child into the pool. Since his child looked like she was well on the way to full membership of the Hell's Angels, I thought that she could probably look after herself but I kept my counsel as he didn't seem to be much of a talker. He eventually agreed not to beat me to a pulp in exchange for the contents of my wallet. I felt that, under the circumstances, it was £70 well spent.

I brought Parker home confident that, my duty done, I could crash in front of a good, artistic French film. Far far from it. An hour later, I was in the car, heading for one of Swindon's enormous multiplexes to see Shrek 2 with Parkie. This was her fifth trip to see the film so she knew the story pretty well. She proceeded to tell me, very loudly, everything that was about to happen just before it actually did. This didn't go down very well with the gentleman behind me who started kicking my seat and telling me to tell her to shut up. I felt that he should really be asking Parker but it all just got worse until the man grabbed me by the neck and dragged me out of the cinema. When we got into the foyer I recognised him as the tattooed man from the swimming pool. I was penniless and unable to pay him off again so he settled for a quick pummelling behind the popcorn machine. I sat on the kerb outside the cinema and waited for Parker to finish watching the film.

As I sat there, a local chav-mobile roared past, spotted me, lunged into reverse and screeched to a halt right next to me. The Burberry be-decked driver leant out, shouted "Hello! I'm sitting on the pavement, soaking wet," before throwing the contents of his industrial-sized soft drink all over me. He roared off laughing just as Parker came out of the cinema. She looked totally unfazed by my disappearance and suggested that we go to McDonald's.

As we approached, I spotted tattooed man in the queue and decided to cut my losses. We drove home in silence. It's not that easy being a daddy.

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