Poems & stories

Flower bud

Flower bud - Tokyo, 2015

Flower bud – Tokyo, 2015

While lilies blossom

A single flower

Patiently buds


Policing the Pool

Summer security has stepped up at my local swimming pool. Before entering, you need to pass through two different checkpoints: bag check, then ID (which they hold onto). Why? Well, everything makes more sense with context. Summer holidays, in France, are long. Everyone clears out of the cities – the doctor, the boulanger, the guy who opens and shuts the local park. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll never be that far from a hot baguette and no-one will leave you bleeding to death. The great thing is most swimming pools stay open. There may be a change of hours so you have to call in advance, but for a good chunk of the day and for less than a fiver, you can have a swim. You, along with every other Tom, Dick, bored and aimless Harry. So, it didn’t hit me with too much surprise when I witnessed something of a Summer fuelled skerfuffle this afternoon in the pool parking lot. They had chosen the best possible spot – an amphitheatre with a birdseye viewing, captive audience. I had finished my swim and was about to get my bicycle when I heard a bunch of male voices shouting in indiscernible French. Fists going in all directions, bathing suits and swimming caps tossed and kicked about the place. A few guys in uniforms attempted to restore the peace but their lack of weapons (along with other things) left them helpless. I got a brief look at the thugs – three of them tall, skinny, white. One of them slightly shorter, chubbier, darker. Late 20s- early 30s. Old enough. The police were called to the scene quicker than I could say qu’est-ce que c’est. A police woman, three policemen and a German shepherd. The dog seemed more upset than anyone and certainly made a point of it. The policemen were efficient enough. They looked tough and fairly intimidating. But it was the policewoman who impressed me the most. She went straight to the route of the problem – asking questions, giving each player a fair hearing. The true mediator. One thug, the chubby one, had tried to leave the scene and was summoned back. But this policewoman wasn’t issuing executions, probably not even a fine, she just wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again. Maybe it was her experience that set her apart, I couldn’t say. I like to think of it as a woman ‘shining’ in a male dominated job. In some way or another women are constantly expected to ‘man up’. This boss didn’t seem to feel the need to. Her female attributes – her calm, non-threatening manner – were her asset, not her handicap. Unlike the male security guards, pool staff, and her policemen colleagues, she was the one looking for a solution. Her line was not intimidation, the authority she asserted was more than sufficient.