Our journey to install a pool began some six years ago. At the time we were just moving into our newly renovated home and we had the option of getting the pool done at the same time. After much debate and seesaw decision making we eventually elected to wait a few years until our son, then about nine months old, was pool safe.
Eventually, we arrived at that magical point where our eldest was not only pool safe, but learning strokes and our youngest was proficient enough to plop in, make his way to the side of the pool and climb out on his own. So we found a pool company we liked the look of and submitted plans to the rubber stamp gods for approval. The first on the approval list being the home owners association that approves all building work done in the estate to make sure you don’t install a smurf windmill or build a replica of the Playboy Mansion grotto or indeed even commission a train station to be built on your property because you’re really into trains and have more money than sense. The approval process then moves to the local town council where someone presumably reviews the plan you’ve submitted in order to find a place on it where they may ‘ink’ it with the stamp they carry around with them for eight hours every working day. For this you wait two weeks – if the universe is aligned in your favour. Otherwise you wall till the day after hell has frozen over.
Once everything was approved, the pool guy arrived on site bright and early and his team broke ground with shovels and in just a matter of hours, there was a problem. A very large pipe had presented itself like a fossilized dinosaur leg running across the width of the pool. The pool guys dutifully dug around the pipe which was eventually left suspended over the pool like a tightrope while we tried to figure out what it was. What followed was a series of tests of every tap, toilet and shower inside and outside the house, followed by a gutter and storm water pipe test using the garden hose. Not a single drop appeared in the pipe – which was now sporting a rather handy new ventilation/window feature curtesy of one errant pickax swing.
Eventually we just cut the pipe and dropped the shell of the pool into the hole. The pipe and whatever it was initially designed to carry away was buried again and unless the fountain of youth suddenly explodes out of my new lawn at some point in the future, I’m going to assume the pipe was a dud. Big assumption, I know. Still, ignorance being bliss, I’m strangely ok with that.
After the shell went in, the builders began to fill the pool using our garden hose. Some twenty four thousand liters of filling as it turns out. The utility bill for this arrived at our house via hand delivery by the mayor riding in a horse-drawn carriage. Receiving a utility bill that size probably would have been ok if I had had something soothing to go with it like a steel cup full of moonshine or jelly tequila in a teapot or indeed even a harem of belly-dancers distracting me while I read the big numbers – but I had none of those things – instead I had a Rastafarian paver show up at my door to install the paving slabs around the pool.
He looked sleepy, but willing.
The initial round of paving went in around the pool over the course of a week or so but this was a less than perfect experience to paint it in the best possible light. At that point we were about two weeks into the pool process. Four weeks later and the paving had been done several times over in exactly the same way. It was as if the paver was using a Stone Age axe and chisel in lieu of a grinder and measuring his cuts using a joint. Each time we agreed with the artisan that if the cutting didn’t go well after the very first cut, he would stop and we’d reassess our next move. But somehow that message didn’t get through and we’d come home at the end of a day of paving to find more paving stones lying around in various states of decomposition and the paving looking more or less exactly the same as it had the previous day. All carefully cemented in place, just waiting to be earmarked for replacement accompanied by my rising blood pressure and indignation.
It should be noted that when I arrived home on those days, the pool guys had by then always made good their escape so there was never any chance of me bludgeoning one of them repeatedly with a stone axe crafted from one of the several hundred shards of sandstone scattered about my garden. Silver linings…
Then there would be a period of cooling off where nothing would happen and then the cycle would repeat itself in a Groundhog Day fashion. All the while, the pool was a dark green, thick as pea soup, swamp-like looking mess, filled with building rubble, all manner of sand and stone, one stray hessian sack, several thousand small and very dead insects and possibly a few hardy amphibious creatures. In a world without consequences it would probably also have hidden a body by this stage. In short, it was not very inviting for swimming in.
In addition to that, every day our boys would gather around the pool with us and ask the most pertinent question of all, “Can we swim now?”
The answer was of course always no, because the pool was not clean. One day, the little guy spotted the automatic pool cleaner, the Kreepy-Krauly as it is affectionately known in South Africa, sitting in its box on the patio and asked me what it was. I said, that is a pool cleaner my boy. He immediately rushed over to it and set about trying to open the box asking us why we couldn’t just unpack the cleaner and throw the bloody thing into the pool already.
Ok, so he didn’t say ‘bloody’. But the tone he used definitely indicated he meant to say it. This then was the very question I asked the pool guy. Can we just get this pool cleaned already so that my children can swim in it? I think I might have even quoted a favorite television show of mine; How hard can it be?
And so finally, Friday the 27th of November 2015, our journey was almost at an end. It was D-Day. The pool guy promised on his nether regions to be finished on this day. My children were wound to the snapping point and I suspect that if the pool had not been cleaned, I would have had to drop the boys off at the pool guy’s house so that he could deal with their very justified indignation. In the end though, the pool was cleaned and that evening, the minions lept into the clear blue, solar heated, water with all the abandon of water sprites.
I too was very keen to have it all done by that day. It had been a long winter and summer had officially arrived in my city so I was more than long overdue for my first swim of the season in the privacy of my own home. With the winter fat still clinging tenaciously to my midriff, I was not what one would call ‘beach ready’ so a private swim was definitely in order.
Also, swimming at home has the added benefit of not being restricted to a speedo which, let’s face it, is not going to look as fetching on me as it once might have and also not having to resort to boardshorts which, at my size, weigh more than a sack full of garden gnomes when wet.
My first swim in the pool then was therefore, inevitably, ‘free willy’. Literally. Any neighbors looking in through the recently thinned out trees and shrubbery around the border of our property, would have been subjected to my awesome flabbiness covered in hair, in all of its dimpled, rolled and anemic pale glory.
And to that I say, voyeurs beware.