ALLSORTS
Life, Living, Becoming...
by
Gerry Coughlan

 Sink ... or Swim

I must have been about 7 years old; myself and my dad were taking a leisurely stroll up the footpath alongside the Grand Canal. We were taking the scenic route back to the bus stop after one of his regular appointments at Baggot Street Hospital. It was very scenic, seen as how there was a bus stop right across the street from the front door of the hospital. But we weren't complaining. We were mates and talked about this and that as I picked up bits of branches from the bank and chucked them into the water.

Don't go too close to the edge, Ger, it's slippery me da warned.

I wasn't a baby, for goodness sake! who was he telling...
as my feet were dragged from under me and I slipped, almost in slow motion, right under the water. Of course I couldn't swim. There was no need, till right now! I flayed around like a drowning 7 year old with my whole life playing out before me just like in the movies - probably a whole 10 seconds - till my dad must have bent down and dragged me out by the scruff of my neck.

Well he did. My dad saved my life. The newspapers would have said...

The unfortunate, blind man - as if he didn't have enough to worry about and here comes his gobshite of a son, throwing himself in the canal and his poor, sightless father having to get down in the slippery muck and feel around for his eejit's flaying arms to drag him to safety.

Well it didn't make the papers but I did feel a real eejit and I remember a guy from a building site running over to give us a hand and putting his jacket around me. He gave us both a lift home and I remember how nice the warm bath felt and how grateful I was for my da and how sorry I was for all the trouble.

It was probably soon after that, that myself and my sister started Saturday morning swimming lessons at Tara Street Public Baths.


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