The Brightside family holiday in Spain was a very relaxing affair. For a period of 10 days, I didn’t watch a television, read a newspaper, stare at a computer screen or even turn my mobile phone on.
In fact, I sat by the pool, listened to music, swam, ate fantastic seafood, thought a lot and ploughed my way through the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson.
One hot, sunny afternoon, my relaxation was disturbed by the most awful, horrible, blood curdling screams. I consulted my iTouch; ‘D-7’ by that popular 90’s beat combo - Nirvana. Ah that explains it. I returned to ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’ and the exciting adventures of Lisbeth Salander.
Almost immediately, my train of thought was interrupted by yet more loud, agonising, terrifying animalistic screams. I looked across at Norma who was embracing the Spanish culture with a short mid-afternoon siesta so it definitely wasn’t her.
I consulted the iTouch again as the blood curdling screaming continued unabated. Ah - ‘Welcome to the Atrocity Exhibition’ by the popular 80’s beat combo - Joy Division from the ‘Live at the Paradiso’ bootleg (available from all good Torrent sites).
I reduced the volume by a notch and was about to summon up the energy to adjust the parasol to get some shade.
Suddenly, away to my right, I saw a flash of green as my radiant wife, Norma, suddenly and spontaneously leapt from her sun-lounger. That’s strange I thought - Cocktail Happy Hour doesn’t start for another 40 minutes. I watched Norma as she ran at breakneck speed towards the swimming pool.
I thought I’d be sociable so I turned my music off and went to join her for some watery frolics followed by discussion of the very important issue of the choice of venue for tonight’s meal.
I stood next to her at the edge of the swimming pool and suddenly my brain went into overdrive. My iTouch was off and yet the loud, agonising screams continued.
Wait - there was a middle aged man splashing about in the water. Wait - is he in difficulty ? Wait - he can’t be - this pool is 1.80m at its deepest. I can stand up in the pool everywhere apart from 2 square metres where I have to stand on tip-toes. Wait - he’s shorter than me. Wait - what the heck is going on here ?
As my brain struggled to parse the situation in front of me, Norma spontaneously and spectacularly leapt into the swimming pool.
It’s a horrible, hackneyed cliche but it was like watching life in slow motion. The middle aged man was still thrashing about rather frantically and he was making the most horrible noises. Loud, prolonged, deep blood curdling noises. At first, I wondered if he was a Joy Division or Nirvana fan and just singing ‘D-7’ followed by ‘Welcome to the Atrocity Exhibition’ in his very own unique version of underwater, punk karaoke.
Norma and another gentleman in the pool gradually moved towards drowning man like two sharks closing in on their prey. But without the triangular fins.
Finally, my brain woke up. This guy didn’t appear to be larking about. There were no children with him. He genuinely looked like he was flailing his arms around and panicking like, well, a drowning man. His eyes were open and he was conscious and vertical but I wondered if he was having a fit or an asthma or panic attack.
As I considered entering the water, Norma got closer to the drowning man. I heard a voice behind me: ‘Can we go and get an ice-cream yet Dad ? It’s nearly 4 o’clock.’
My daughter Norma Jeane was at my side carefully reviewing progress on her sun tan and, incredibly was thinking about her stomach rather than the drama unfolding in front of us. Even more incredibly, Norma Jeane is a qualified life guard.
‘Hang on Norma Jeane - your Mum’s a little busy at the moment saving a drowning man.’
‘Oh - shall I just get her a Magnum Classic then ? Have you got any Euros ?’
Norma reached the flailing man and went to lift him. The man seized his opportunity and pushed down hard on Norma’s shoulder to lift himself out of the water and get some air into his lungs The laws of physics meant that he immediately pushed Norma fully under the water. Norman Jeane offered ‘Oh yeah - that’s a classic life saving mistake. We did it on the course. You should always support the drowning man low down before he has a chance to grab you and risk drowning you.’
Thankfully, the man’s screams finally subsided and Norma and the other man lifted the man, rather ungracefully, up onto the poolside - laid out like a beached seal. The hotel pool man immaculately clad in white shirt and white long trousers (like an extra from ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’) ambled over. ‘Everything ees OK, si ?’