I’m not sure what day I am on of my challenge, it’s beginning to seem endless, to write thirty blogs on thirty consecutive days from a list of random subjects not chosen by me… so whatever day this is…


“Don’t forget to lock up!” Mick called as he left.

“Bloody don’t forget to bloody lock bloody up!!” muttered Cliff. He wouldn’t have dared say it in Mick’s hearing. “Who does he chuffin’ think I am, bloody absent minded professor?”

I didn’t reply; I’d learned fairly quickly you had to stay on the good side of Cliff otherwise he could make life difficult. Not only was he the community centre assistant caretaker, but he was the assistant pool manager and he was a nasty, mean bloke. He was good at getting people banned – not for ever, but for a week just when some trials were coming up, or a pro coach from Crystal Palace was coming to give some special coaching. He was lazy too and never did his job properly, always trying to take short cuts and the easy way, and yet very good, very adept at putting someone else in the firing line.

So far, I had kept on the good side of him by buttoning my lip, doing what he told me to do, even if it was things he should be doing, like things to do with the boiler, and putting up with him going on and on about things. When I say things, I mean he was a nasty racist, sexist, stupid little man. However, I was on my absolute and utter last warning otherwise I would be banned from the Community Centre for life, and the thing is in our little village the Community is all there is to do! What’s more Mum is on the committee and Dad is the social secretary which is even more important than being on the committee – I can’t get banned, I absolutely can’t, so I have to put up with Cliff and do the best I can, as Mick has advised.

Mick is a great bloke and it’s thanks to him that I’m actually not banned already; I am a bit of a dick sometimes and I have pulled some stupid stunts, and I am now on the last and final warning – from the Community committee, from Dad, and worst of all, from Mum. So I do what Mick advised, keep my head down, agree with everything Cliff says, do everything he says and not moan or try and complain because if I do Cliff will find a way of making it worse for me.

“Go and clean the Gents while I make a brew, then we’ll lock up and be off.”

“Okay, Cliff,” I tried to look not bothered, as if cleaning the Gents was something I didn’t mind doing. I’d made a mistake once with a vile job he’d got me to do; trying to get on his good side, when he asked me to clean the gutters on the extension out the back I’d pretended it was better than doing the mopping. I hated mopping and he’d made me do all of it because I’d moaned – so I decided to not moan and sound keen and eager. Yeah, I said, I’ll clear the gutters on the extension, no probs! Idiot, mopping was a hundred times better than cleaning gunk and slimy stuff and two dead birds, not one, but two, and a load of smelly leaves which had turned to sticky glue. Also the ladder was rickety and wasn’t quite tall enough so it had been a bit precarious and I nearly fell off except I made an athletic leap and jumped and landed in a muddy part at the back of the pitch.

These days I just shut up, except when he accused me of sulking or being rude, and then I make sure I do what he tells me.  If you don’t wanna do it, that’s fine, he’d say, I’ll tell your dad you’ve had enough and I’m sure he’ll find you something else to keep you occupied. He’d sounded quite cheerful about it, but I knew if he did talk to my dad it would be a load of moaning and lies. Even if Dad didn’t believe all of it, he wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of Cliff.

So I was cleaning the Gents, just thankful that I was still at school and wasn’t condemned to work here for the rest of my life. I’d made a bit of a cock up of school as well, not to go into details I had been as much of a prat in school as I was outside school, and as I brushed the bogs which thankfully weren’t actually dirty, I resolved that enough was enough. I would try as hard as I could to control my stupid impulse to try and be funny, to stop being lazy and actually do the work which I could do easily, to train properly and not mess about… in fact if I resolved just to not mess about that would cover everything. I would never be an international swimmer, I’d never swim for my country, but I could be a good club swimmer. I’d never get to Oxford or Cambridge, I’d probably never get to any top Uni, but I could get to somewhere decent, get a degree and have a bit of fun… I just had to stop being an arse.

This story will be continued!



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