Wednesday, 2 April 2008

The Renewal

There was a crisis of a kind.

On Monday I looked at my Paris Passe Familles and saw that it expired that very day.

The passe has been the conduit to a world of free swimming and other ancillary benefits such as help with the gas bill and the quarterly charges for the upkeep of the apartment block.

We've got this because of the third child.

I went to the district office which dishes out the pass on Tuesday bright and early after dropping off said third child at crèche.

I showed the assistant the two passes that needed renewing and he said that we shouldn't have two passes. Not at all in order. "How did you get two?"

"We asked and the bloke gave us two..."

"He shouldn't have done that," came the reply. "Perhaps he was leaving," I offered jauntily.

I went in on Tuesday expecting to make an appointment for another day when our dossier could be forensically analysed.

But the man said the card could be instantly renewed as long as I had the 2006 tax returns, the last three pay slips and the most recent bill from the managing agents of the block.

The choice was either to get back before 11am or in the afternoon after 2pm.

An afternoon return would be complicated by the presence of the boy.

I thought why impose bureaucracy on a querulous pup even if his very presence on earth had spawned the trip.

I returned before 11am and got sorted. I asked for a second card but was informed by another assistant that no deviation would be tolerated this time.


I deviated myself this morning, opting for a splash at Piscine Parmentier rather than the usual lengths at Piscine Pontoise.

Parmentier, which is a lot nearer - about five mintues away on the bike - has been renovated recently. The lockers don't take money, they have codes. A man kindly explained to me how it worked.

What I'm not so keen on is the mixed shower zone. I was there early enough not to encounter anything remotely approaching a mixed changing zone.

I did see cubicles for other self-conscious types.

The pool itself is bright with an air of cleanliness rather unlike Pontoise which seeps faded splendour. At Pontoise you give your ticket to a man and he shows you to a cubicle and there are separate areas for the men and women to do their pre and post swim ablutions.

I quite like that kind of demarcation, smacks of old world values.

Quite why I should stand on such ceremony beats me. Three children in, inhibitions should, by now, have fled the coil.

It's time to unwind and dance to the rhythm of change. Stop swimming against the tide, so to speak.