Achtung Baby Or Learning To Swim

Achtung Baby Or Learning To Swim


One thing I remember vividly about primary school is our Friday morning trek to the pool for our swimming lesson with Malcolm. I loved those lessons. My enthusiasm was possibly partly attributable to a love of water and most definitely down to my first crush, Malcolm.

He of the hairy chest and holder of the sew-on badges I so desperately wanted to impress him with by achieving. A kind, patient man, I would have swum miles to reach that chest of fur. I suspect, at the tender age of six, the attraction was less of a sexual nature and more down to the fact that he reminded me of my favourite teddy bear.

But I digress.

Germany is currently in the throes of a debate about whether it should abolish teaching children joined up writing and let them express themselves freely when it comes to the written word. I'm all for it. It seems to me we all develop our own style when freed from the restrictions of school regulations, so why not encourage it early on? Whilst heated discussions continue, on what seems to me to be rather a trivial subject, I fail to see why the compulsory teaching of swimming never seems to be an issue.

Surely, learning the art of non-drowning trumps joined-up writing when it comes to surviving in the adult world?

Sadly, I have no say when it comes to German schooling. The waiting list for lessons at the local pool is currently at nine months, so I decided to take the job of teaching Finje to swim upon myself.

Obviously suffering from a bout of selective amnesia and forgetting my father's words as he took on the challenge of teaching me to drive, I found myself blithering something similar. 'I can swim quite adequately. How hard can it be to teach Finje?'

The theory that you are able to satisfactorily achieve something and are therefore qualified to teach that something, is, frankly, balderdash.

Finje's stoic insistence that she was, most certainly swimming as she demonstrated perfect breast stroke arm movement whilst walking along the pool floor was replaced by condescension when I attempted to explain that in order to swim, one had to have all four limbs floating in the water.

It went down hill from there. We ended up, hurtling down the water slide and agreeing to wait nine months for Finje's own personal Malcolm to take over.

Suits me.