Posted on Sunday 3rd June 2007 at 00:00
I stand in the changing room dripping all over the floor. I've just swum 1,600 metres; a full mile, give or take and am pleased with myself. Just as I open up my locker I hear a voice behind me cutting through the noise of the crowded room.

'You bloody idiot!? It's the voice of a man who is clearly not best pleased. I hope he isn't speaking to me and pause before turning to look.

'You stupid boy, you've put your hands in the toilet again! How many times have I told you not to put your hands down the toilet?!? Having not put my hands down the toilet recently, I'm pretty sure he isn't speaking to me. On inspection I find the torrent of abuse is being directed at a little boy of about 4. As he speaks the man lifts the kid up to a nearby sink, quickly applies soap to the kid's hands and jerks them under the hot tap.

I know from experience that the water from that tap is scolding and the boy cries out in pain before bursting into tears. His father drags him off to the changing area whilst bellowing at the child not to be so bloody disgusting and to stop ruining things every time they go out.

Once he is sure that the entire room has heard him he starts on his other charge, a 10 year old who it seems has made the mistake of being on the same planet as his brother at the time the incident happened.

'Why the hell didn't you stop him? If you'd being paying attention and watching him instead of day dreaming this would never have happened! It's all your fault!? 10 year old stands there, looking sorry for himself and taking each of his father's verbal blows like a car wreck.

They are just across from me and I hate the man. He clearly has no idea how to look after his kids at all. I suspect he may be the divorced father, forced to see his kids once a week and annoyed to be wasting his bank holiday doing so. I doubt it even occurs to him that it was he who should have been paying attention to 4 year old and making sure he kept his hands out of the toilet, not the wretched youth.

As I leave the changing room, I feel sorry for those kids. All they wanted was to do what most kids do and spend a day off from school having fun on the water slides. Now their father is in a bad mood and they are going to have to put up with him for the rest of the afternoon. I depart with a heavy heart.

Later I am in the cinema watching Pirates of the Caribbean, when I discover I am sat within ear shot of a family with several children. Much to my amusement, at the interval I overhear one cheeky child say to her father 'Give me a chocolate elephant or I'm calling ChildLine!? Towards the end of the film, Kiera Knightly asks Orlando Bloom if he is ok after he has just been stabbed. The child a couple of seats down retorts in an indiscreet whisper 'Oh course he's not ok... twat!?

I'm driven to wonder if this is the same kid who, whilst watching Spiderman 3 in Basingstoke the other week, saw Kirsten Dunst snog James Franco and uttered the following killer line in a voice of mock shock that one would not expect from a little girl:

'Huh, the slut!?

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