Strange as it may seem to those of you still following this tale of woe, I’d actually managed to become employed during the summer of that particular year.
If you think that seems nuts and somewhat incongruent with this story so far, how does being made head lifeguard at the local outdoor swimming pool sound? My appointment was possibly one of the most badly mismatched career/individual juxtapositions ever but it was one to which I brought all my ‘life skills’.
So, lots of drug taking while thinking about myself and not much else, then!
Perhaps having heard that I’d just spent a while living in sunny California had persuaded the soon-to-be outgoing head of recruitment that I would possibly be a good candidate for the role? On reflection, I think the fact that the guy who interviewed me was a mate had swung it, that and I believe he wanted to shag my older sister and thought awarding me the job might further his cause somewhat.
Anyway, within days I’d donned the red vest and climbed onto my stool at the side of the pool. I don’t think he ever managed to climb on top of my sister, not that I ever decided to ask, though. It’s not like I’m a weirdo, eh?
Regardless, the job was mine, which pleased my mum, as she considered it a far more sensible occupation than my fledgling stabs at musical superstardom given that I was now officially employed by the council.
Yeah, I could swim but much preferred drowning in booze and drugs by this point in proceedings and it’s a fucking miracle no one died while I sat, stoned out of my tiny mind, poolside that summer. Mind you, if you’re going to recruit directly from the dole-office attendees in Weston-super-Mare, you’ve only got yourself to blame, eh?
The closest anyone actually came to drowning was my mate and fellow lifesaver/drug addict Jack who, after buying a few too many Valium from me prior to crawling up onto his stool at the side of the pool, had also decided to join me in a few blasts from the canister of Entonox gas we kept in the medical room.
Said gas is often administered to women during childbirth, so you can imagine its potency and perhaps our delight when, along with my new my position of responsibility, I was given the keys to the meds room and that summer’s supply of gaseous pain relief. Another mate was also keeping us supplied with a steady stream of Valium and a few other bits and bobs purloined from his ageing mother, who was currently dribbling into her lap in a nearby retirement home.
Jack and I were hurriedly deciding quite how much dribbling we were up for ourselves on that particular shift, concluding that two blue Valium and a few long blasts on the gas should be enough to keep us happy until lunchtime, before he shuffled off to keep a watchful eye on the few tourists who were already splashing about in the pool.
I headed down to the plant room to try to make a decision about quite how much chlorine I was going to pump into the pool that morning. This should have been a carefully considered ratio that no doubt had been previously explained to me at some point but it was a decision I often made based on other more self-interested motives.
My thinking was that the more of the eye-stinging stuff I pumped into the water, the fewer people there would be actually able to spend any time fucking about in it, thus reducing the chance of any fatalities while I sat catatonically overseeing events.
As the gas I’d just inhaled inflated my brain cells, it became obvious to me I was not really going to be fit for purpose for a few hours yet and I therefore pumped about three days’ worth of chlorine into the system before stumbling back up to my perch.
An hour later the pool was more or less deserted aside from a few obviously sado-masochistic loons who sounded Welsh to me and were clearly happy to have their retinas burnt out as they cavorted in the crystalline water.
My attention was focused on a young ‘friend’ of mine called Becky, who had skipped college that day and decided to wear a typewriter ribbon instead of a swimming costume as she sunned herself a few feet away from me. Cheap sunglasses were just about preventing my eyeballs from sliding out of their sockets as the Valium/gas/eye-candy combination, along with the effect of some rarely seen sunshine, kept me rooted to my stool and I contemplated whether getting my head kicked in by my young friend’s dad would be a price worth paying for further investigation of what was not actually being hidden beneath her pink bikini. Shortly after she rolled over onto her back to continue topping up her tan I had decided that, yes, indeed it most certainly would and I was about to take her up on her request to walk her to the bus stop later when I heard the sound of someone’s body connecting with the paving slabs that surrounded the edge of the pool, shortly followed by a splash as they then disappeared into the water.
Pete, another of my recently recruited best friends in the whole wide world, was at his post on the lifeguard’s island at the centre of the pool. He had also recently paid a visit to the meds room but skipped the Valium and therefore seemed better able to respond to this sudden incident, as he leapt over the wall surrounding the lifeguards’ post and began swimming towards the body that was about to resurface a few feet from where Jack should have been stationed.
All this occurred in just a few seconds, which is the same amount of time my befuddled brain took to figure out that the ‘man overboard’ was actually Jack and not one of the red-eyed, probably blind by now, Welsh tourists.
Jack resurfaced, giggling to himself, clearly not the worse for wear after apparently nodding out prior to his unintentional dip in the pool.
‘Oh fuck, my head hurts, boss. I think I need to go to the meds room to have it checked out, mate.’
Taking the matter in hand, I sprang into full-on David Hasselhoff mode and escorted my still-giggling chum towards the privacy of the medical room, where I shortly concluded he was in shock and therefore in need of something to calm him down.
Pete joined us, as he was also clearly traumatised by this ‘near-death’ experience, and so I gave him a few hits of the gas before asking him to go and find some more Valium, as our stash was in Jack’s soaking wet pocket and had thus probably been ruined by all the chlorine I’d earlier pumped in the pool we’d just fished him out of.
A few weeks later we had finished the entire canister of Entonox and my stint saving lives and infuriating the parents of local college girls came to an abrupt end when a member of the public caught me smoking a joint on the sun terrace while conducting that morning’s ‘team meeting’. For some bizarre reason he felt it his duty to inform the operations manager, who fired me on the spot.
Still, no one had died, eh? Besides, now I could focus on my musical endeavours rather than young ladies in bikinis, of which there would obviously be plenty more when I became a famous superstar and had my own fucking swimming pool to play in, pumped full of cocaine rather than chlorine!