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Sunday, 17 December 2006


Every Saturday morning, my little ones have been sharing private swimming lessons at one of the local independent school sports clubs. Their fascination with water will wear off imminently - now that I have purchased their swim jackets, ear bands and paid for their lessons one month in advance. I have been sitting on the pool side each week, cheering them on, mesmerised, indifferent to the goings on around me.

Two women usually sit to one side of me. We acknowledge each other quietly. They sit closely together and talk intensely. Their two little boys share a lesson. Last Saturday, I found it difficult to concentrate on the children - the conversation going on to my left was so interesting.

The slim blonde lady (Lucy) was initially rather emotional - relating to the dark haired lady (Emily) the detail of her self diagnosed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Apparently, since her son William was born, Lucy has developed a cleaning compulsion. Emily was initially extremely sympathetic, holding Lucy's perfectly manicured, moisturised hands in a supportive manner.

'No, no', insisted Lucy, 'OCD does not manifest itself this way with me. I don't do the whole hand washing compulsion thing. It is simply that since William was born, I now MUST have a full-time house keeper (she is marvellous, a Philippine and she even irons my husbands shirts and keeps the kitchen meticulously clean) a wonderful Polish cleaner (five mornings instead of the initial two)- incredibly hard working, and an au pair who cleans two hours each day - also Polish' - she could not recommend the Polish enough for the execution of household chores.

'The house is always spotless', she said. 'I am meticulous about every detail, it is a total obsession'.

Emily then said dryly to Lucy, dropping her hands dramatically;

'You are not OCD sweetie, you are HM',

'Ohmygod, What is that?' asked Lucy.

'High Maintenance' said Emily.

I almost choked with laughter. But the conversation went on..........

Lucy then took a clementine out of her bag for her little boy who was coming towards the end of his swimming lesson.

Emily said;

'Surely your son needs carbohydrate after physical exertion - I always give William bread and butter'.

Emily replied dryly;

'There is a huge amount of salt used in the manufacturing process - not good for young kidneys, I never allow Henry to eat bread',

Lucy replied in a superior tone, 'We have a bread maker',

Emily replied curtly 'Is she Polish too?'


My children could have been abducted by a group of Roman Catholic clergy by now for all the attention I had been paying them. Instead of collapsing in giggles I restrained myself and made a hasty retreat to the changing room with a very broad smile on my face.

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