In the Pool.

I grew up in a place called Duranbah, whose claim to notoriety is ‘Tropical Fruit World’

(Formerly: ‘Avocado Land’).

I am not making this up.

Avocado Land, as it was known to me then was a theme park. The theme being Avocados.

I would pass it on my journey to Duranbah Public, a one room school house whose entrance was shrouded by enormous pines. Down the dirt path littered with pine cones was the school, the toilet block and the art shed that we couldn’t enter because a King Brown snake had taken residence.

It was here that I brought my green frog backpack and white scrunchie socks on my first day in 1989.

Years One through Six were all taught in the same room by a man whose name I can’t quite recall. He made fun of me in front of the class once because my grandfather had written a note to explain my absence using the word ill as opposed to sick. He found the word ill snobbish. In hindsight, he was clearly a twat and in later years I discovered had been regularly hitting on my single mother but that’s another story.

In my year were Damien – foe, Melanie – friend, Ella – foe and Timothy – first love.

Timothy had ‘alternative’ parents and lived in a house his father had built by hand. Their telly was powered by their car battery. I chased him in catch and kiss and marvelled at his brown eyes. He wasn’t much fussed. This theme has continued throughout my life.

Ella competed with me for Melanie’s friendship, stole my colour pencils and dobbed me in that time we had the pine cone fight but Damien was the worst.

Damien had several older brothers and in retrospect I was simply the unfortunate recipient of some trickle down bullying.

We went to the pool on Fridays. I loved the Pool.

Even now I get profoundly excited about a day at the Lido. The sound of children laughing, of salt, vinegar and sunscreen; the incense of Summer filling the air.

I was water baby. You couldn’t get me out of the pool until I’d turned prune.

All of us waiting for turns to dive for rings stood in a line at the side. Damien turned to me and and as he often did, said something mean.

So I pushed him in.

I was sent to the baby pool for the rest of the afternoon to sit on my own.

I couldn’t comprehend the punishment.

I watched the others play.

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