Holidays can be a tricky business really, especially if you’re a 14 year old.
There’s no precise middle ground when it comes to them, you’re either tagging along with your parents, lounging by a pool for six hours a day just so you can “get away from the stress” whilst ironically freaking the fuck out over towel spaces.
Conversely you have the holidays that are more aimed towards children aged between six and ten, most of these consist of drama graduates pretending that they don’t hate children, and really shit disco’s as the DJ re-evaluates everything he ever dreamed of.
To try and find a middle ground in this, for some ungodly reason Butlins decided to exist.
Offering a shit alternative to absolutely every demographic. If you’re twenty and over you can party it up in their Irish bar, along with everyone else who’s life has gone off the rails a bit.
Children can frolick around with a bloke dressed as a bear for a week or so, and teenagers can dick around in a fairground with four rides, or alternatively a swimming pool.
Our story takes us to 2004. I was in Skegness, the proverbial armpit of Britain. Accompanied by my cousins on a typically rainy August day, a good portion of the fairground rides were out of order on account of the light drizzle, therefore the only activity of the day would indeed be the swimming pool. To be fair, the swimming centre in this place was actually pretty good so it was a few hours well spent.
One of the better boasting points of this swimming centre was the fact that their water-slides were quite on point, high up, circulating the entirety of the building before dumping you in another pool. One of these slides required you, and another person to be in a small rubber dinghy.
It was a Wednesday morning (probably) the swimming centre was pretty much completely empty, thus there was going to be no annoying queue for the slides, our morning was pretty set from here. Me, my two cousins, Claire and Liam decided to take full advantage.
Running up the stairs, excitedly expecting to be welcomed onto the dinghy with open arms was thwarted by what to this day remains the fattest woman I will ever see in my entire life.
I’m not one for body shaming, I’ve reached some pretty unflattering states in BMI and I’m too lazy to judge others (lol) but this woman was an absolute monster, I’m absolutely positive that she had to use the material from a hot air balloon for her swim suit, with her small daughter by her side the two struggled to get into a dinghy.
After much stress the rubber of the dinghy inevitably thought “Oh fuck it” and stretched enough for her body frame to make its new home.
Without even lying, the secondary life guard had to help the initial guard push them down. Still, twenty seconds later it was our turn.
The only problem was there was three of us, we were one person down from accompany both dinghies.
Claire and Liam went down on one, the lifeguards just figured I could hold out my own, a lonesome thirty second wait ensued and I was able to go.
The lack of secondary person made my dinghy travel much faster down the slide, shooting down like a rubbery, wet shooting star I whizzed, circling the lazy river, speeding through the deep end, and soaring over the children’s pool, I was unstoppable.
Claire and Liam however, were not unstoppable, as I saw their dinghy stationary ahead of mine.
I figured at this point the slide was somehow mimicking the gimmick of a rollercoaster, a slow uphill buildup before shooting down the steep part of the slide perhaps?
This was not however the case, it emerged that the fat woman had weighed her dinghy down so much that even the power of the jet stream couldn’t boost her up the ever so gentle slope. Holy shit.
Expecting to crash into the back of my cousins boot, I ‘cleverly’ leaned back to lessen the impact.
This, unfortunately didn’t go according to plan. Instead of a little bump, the front of my dinghy lifted, and essentially used Liams back as a new slide, I tumbled out the dinghy, the dinghy itself flew gracefully in the air, hitting both cousins in the head. It hit the safety net (This humourous story would have probably been a lot more tragic without it) and bounced back into me. Trying to fight the incoming dinghy off their heads I lifted it over behind me.
All throughout this ordeal, my baby toe was bent back and stuck in a fucking jet stream, it was only after the kerfuffle were I realised that my toenail was now non-existent, shot down at 90mph into a fat woman’s defeated and broken dinghy.
The jet streams immediately shut off, silence filled the slide. “Not sure that was meant to happen” I laughed, my cousins laughed, the woman turned around…She was not laughing.
“UGH! That’s the second time this week!” she scoffed. As if the death of an innocent boat was a personal attack on her.
Maybe my mind is blocking out the trauma, maybe all I remember is the throbbing, stabbing pain that was my screaming baby toe, but I can’t quite remember what happened in the few moments in which we were waiting to essentially be rescued.
Sooner, rather than later. A life guard in his finest yellow bungee rope, and bright blue helmet came traversing down.
“Are you guys okay?”
“Yeah doing pretty good act-”
“THIS IS THE SECOND TIME THIS WEEK!”
Oh, Okay I guess I was done talking, love.
The guard rescue the woman and her probably embarrassed daughter. More time passed and the guard came back up, more blue helmets a go. He rescued the two cousins.
“I can only take two at a time, you gonna be okay?”
“Yeah, I’ll be cool thanks”.
And like that, I spent the best part of ten minutes, alone, sitting in a defeated and sad dinghy sitting twenty feet above the actual pool. It was a weird experience all around.
Soon, my blue helmeted saviour returned.
“How was the wait?” he asked trying to create some sort of distraction from the deformed purple growth on my foot that used to be called a toe.
“Well it’s the WEIGHT that got us in this mess, hahaha”
“I thought that would be funny, sorry”
He fished out a blue helmet for myself, “catch!” he said cooly tossing it towards me.
I extended my arms and felt this beautifully coloured piece of headgear slip through my very hands. It crashed, and rapidly tumbled down the slide, we both stared at it in silence.
“I dropped it”
Gallant and noble was the guard, as he took his helmet off and gave it to me. I had to hold this gross, possibly lubed up, slimy bungee cord as I carefully traversed the remainder of the slide. It was a much less fun journey than speeding dinghies, but a bit more interesting. I had to fill on insurance forms, and the remainder of the holiday I limped as if my foot had been amputated.
Never saw the beastly woman again, I’m sure she’s stuck on a slide at this very moment.