The most wonderful story appeared in The Berwick Advertiser this week, swelling NOT BAd’s admiration for our local reporters tenfold.
We’re already agog at the thousands of words of copy they have to file every week. They don’t do this for the good of their health, you know; they do it so that we can feel connected and involved. That nativity play? Our nativity play. That petty criminal damage? Yeah, ours. And if you wanna make something of our knitting circle, step outside.
Yes, we giggle and snort at the parochial nature of our news, but we are the news. Here at NOT BAd HQ none of us aspires to anything greater than catching the EastEnders omnibus and flossing sometimes. If we want the journos at Tweeddale Press to chronicle more than a bring-and-buy sale and someone pissing in a doorway, then all of us need to get a darnsight more pro-active with our personal news.
You could forgive our hacks, then, if sometimes they were tempted to spice things up, make stories more interesting, more blockbusting – a soupçon more in-Bedrocks-no-one-can-hear-you-scream kind of thing.
How Jenna Macfarlane – the reporter on this particular story – resisted joojing the facts of the matter is beyond us. Her super-human restraint, her Olympian self-control in the face of a temptation larger than a hooker’s number on a footballer’s speed-dial, is something we can only shake our heads at in wonder as we fall face first on to a family-sized Sara Lee cheesecake.
The story – ‘Big Splash at Swan Centre’ – covered a bid to inspire the people of Berwick to put down their pasties and leave the safe cocoon of Gregg’s and get swimming. To this end, Berwick Swan Centre for Leisure has joined forces with the BBC and British Swimming in a national swimming campaign, the Big Splash.
Now, to achieve this, to make swimming more attractive to children and thus save them from a life of obesity and attendant playground bullying, self-loathing, reduced mobility, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and premature death, the Big Splash has come up with a cracking idea.
Why not turn the pool water a different colour?
Darren Humphreys, manager of the Swan Centre, is clearly owning this idea, his enthusiasm for it blazing like a cheap tracksuit next to a naked flame. NOT BAd likes to think the interview with Jenna Macfarlane went something like this.
JENNA: So, Daz, tell me about the Big Splash campaign?
DARREN: It’s like, OMFG, totally sick.
JENNA: Mm-mm, in what way precisely?
DARREN: The water, yeah? We’re gonna change the colour. It’s gonna, like, totally mess with their heads. Think H-2-whooaa!
JENNA: Riiiight. I see. And this will encourage our children to – what, get more active?
DARREN: (Pause) A different colour, yeah? It’s well mental.
JENNA: That’s great, but what you’re hoping to achieve is a lowering of the rate of childhood obesity in an area historically linked to premature mortality? Early intervention at grass roots level to instil lifelong fitness?
DARREN: Yeah, yeah. What-evs. Check this – the water, yeah? Totally. Different. Colour.
JENNA: (Sighing) So, Daz. Tell me about the water. I hear it’s going to be a different colour …
DARREN: S’all good. None of that chemical shit, innit. S’like, nobody’ll get off their face going down the water slide or nothin.
JENNA: And what colour did your research say would have most impact?
JENNA: Well, your feasibility study must have covered research into which colour is most likely to have a positive psychological effect on encouraging young people to take up exercise.
JENNA: (Exasperated) What colour, Darren! What colour have you chosen to tempt kids off the couch and into the pool?
DARREN: (Pause) Red, innit.
Oh, yes, red. Because the way to encourage any reluctant swimmer is to stage a re-enactment of a shark attack in the pool. It’s a way of thinking that NOT BAd wishes it could scoop up and bottle, to spritz itself with whenever a WTF mood struck.
Jenna must have been twitching, dying to shriek “This was no boat accident!” before sticking her hand up behind her back like a fin and circling a bemused and slightly hurt Darren. But no. Because Jenna isn’t like us. Jenna is a professional.
There’s even a very sweet photo accompanying the piece showing a small and terrified girl, goggles on, up to her waist in gore and gripping on to her father’s hand as he tries gently to persuade her that her fear of being eaten alive is unfounded.
You have no idea how much we love this at NOT BAd HQ, so much so that we may even take advantage of all the other fun activities down at the Swan Centre from now until Thursday, 21st July. We suggest you do the same.