The consequences of annoyance


I was annoyed all yesterday that I’d missed the Parkrun by not being able to catch a taxi, so today I went out to see how long it would take to cycle from Chinatown to East Coast Park. The direct route would be along the freeway, but that’s probably as illegal as it is suicidal, so instead I rode out to the Marina Bay Barrage, past the golf course and then down through Tanjong Rhu, arriving at the race start point about forty minutes after I’d started. But I was still annoyed.

Today was another race around Marina Bay, and that meant I had to cycle around crowds of people jogging or walking very slowly. There’s a quite odd mix of people entering these mass races in Singapore; very old people out for a shamble, people who can’t abandon their smart phones for five minutes, wandering along with their earphones on, ignoring the world, and bizarrely hypertrophied men who have spent too much time in the gym, getting enormous muscular torsos and arms, but forgetting to do anything practical. Or exercise their legs. I saw them mincing mostly, arms and shoulder rotating rather than moving forwards, as if they though running required the same techniques as doing The Twist. It’s good that everyone goes out and exercises; it’s just aggravating that every Sunday they seem to hog the prime places for decent distance training.

Ah well. I got away from the race at the golf course, and they’d all gone past by the time I came back, so I had a clear run home. It was still annoying to find that I could have made it to the race on time, if I’d only got up a bit earlier and gone straight for my bike. It also made me realize what a waste all those taxi rides in the past have been; I could have been racing truly for free, and getting extra exercise into the bargain. Still, lesson learned.

As a result, I had 90 minutes of steady, low intensity exercise today. That gets my totals for the week to 263 easy minutes and 64 hard; almost bang on the 80/20 ratio. That was with more cycling than I’d intended, but it’s all helpful for building up endurance, and the more I can avoid injury, the better.

Late this afternoon, we went to a swimming lesson at a public pool. Although La Serpiente Aquatica Negra has had swimming lessons for more than six months, they’re not progressing that fast, and when the coach said that a child should be able to swim by the time they’re four, I had some reservations about how much they’re learning. If La Serpiente Aquatica Negra can’t be a proficient swimmer, what right does she have to her name?

Then I heard about this Australian woman, teaching children who, as young as two years, were confidently diving to retrieve toys from the bottom of the pool. While we don’t want to load our child down with needless pressure, if we could get her a head start in a fairly helpful life skill, it seemed daft not to try it.

We walked with friends to the pool. That’s about a 45 minute walk, during which our child howled discontentedly non-stop. At the pool, she was happy and engaged for the entire lesson, and then when we wheeled her back home, she cried for another 45 minutes. Next time I think we need to bring the car seat and take a taxi home. That way we’d also avoid the narrow paths half blocked by trees, the constant humidity, the gormless looking motorcyclists who you can’t ever be sure are going to slow down when they see you at a pedestrian crossing or speed up, and of course the men doing adhoc tree surgery at five on a Sunday afternoon, who recommended we wheel our children into oncoming traffic on a dual carriageway rather than clear their chopped branches off the pavement. Actually, it seems a shame to isolate our child from all these rich engagements with the full tapestry of Singaporean life. I would be a bad parent not to subject her to this.

After all this, I was pleased that La Serpiente Aquatica Negra was again keen on getting into her bath, rather than being jaded by the prospect of more water. We put her to bed and then, exiled to the living room, were both down to sleep before 10pm.


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