West London Types

The Lido Swimmer


'Sharing a bath with the great unwashed is Cate’s idea of bliss'

When Cate lived in Bayswater she used to swim in the Serpentine, but after moving south she’s discovered the lidos of Brockwell and Tooting Bec.

Sharing a bath with the great unwashed is Cate’s idea of bliss. Impervious to the medley of old man back hair, Love Island body lotion, belly button fluff, verrucas and peeling skin, she powers forward with a strident breaststroke.

The heaving throngs are invisible to her. Focusing on a 6 inch patch of unoccupied water she imagines she’s on the Amalfi Coast; she’s just so lucky to have open water like this in Brockwell.

The Art Deco surrounds add a sense of heritage; her morning constitutional is a timeless experience, much like the one Marlene Dietrich would have had in the 1930s, she imagines.

It’s not that she exactly enjoys other people’s dandruff and snot floating along her eyeline, it’s just that she’s so terribly lucky to have open water on her doorstep. It’s such a pity her old friends in Notting Hill won’t come south to experience it with her. Louise politely declined with tales of Godchildren’s birthdays, painters in, and trips away. Cate’s puzzled as Louise has wallpaper not paint, and her holiday pictures aren’t on Instagram.

To her left, a child is dribbling iced E numbers over her towel, while its mother tans an infected belly ring. But Cate isn’t concerned – there’s just such a sense of community in a place like this.