Friday, April 21, 2006

Pools reflect on changes in society

As long time readers will know, I am a bit of a fanatical swimmer. My local swimming pool is a fairly large complex just off the beach about a mile from my house. The original part of the complex was built in 1979 then another part - of equal size - was built in 1990, and opened by Princess Diana.

During those ten years some interesting changes had occured in British society, and seem to be reflected in the different designs of the two buildings.

The original, 1979, building consisted of two pools - a child's pool and an adult's 'gala' pool. Both of them rectangular, formal and having a little wall behind which are rows of seats for 'spectators'. The pools had seperate changing rooms for men and women, and as you walked out of the changing rooms you were obliged to walk through a little foot wash of disinfectant liquid. Displayed on the wall in the gala pool used to be a sign which informed people of 'The rules'. This used to fascinate me as a child, in particular the part which demanded that there be 'No petting', accompanied by a cartoon of a man and woman locked in an embrace within a circle with a slash across it. Actually thats the only rule I can remember. I think the others concerned not running, ducking people under water, or diving into the shallow end.

Now, the 1990 development had only one pool (no seperation of children and adults), albeit large, and with a curvy kidney shape, fountains, and a wave machine. There is now a unisex changing area, and no rules or footwash. Swimming is now more fun - perhaps - and certainly more informal. But not quite so hygenic on one's feet.

Curiously, hardly anyone seems to 'spectate' anymore.

And those damn petting couples can get on one's nerves!

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