A Powerful Phrase By Andrew Keen

There are some phrases that create a deep visceral reaction inside you whenever they are spoken. Whether a venerable, learned speaker, or from the mouths of babes they can produce an action that circumvents decision and the brain, they take you into autopilot. This story concerns one such phrase.

I was engaged in the noble, but damp art of swimming instruction. Imparting to the youth of the day the various techniques for not drowning. They were a young class, not very able, but progressing, and none of them yet had failed not to drown so much as to go blue. A measure of success I appoint to myself.

One very small girl turned to me and spoke: ‘I need to go to the toilet’. Now, while this phrase is strong, it is not the one in question. In fact it is quite run of the mill in the industry. Lot’s of water, lots of excitement, it’s bound to happen. You simply whisk the child from the pool and direct them to a parent, so as to be their problem again, and are quietly appreciative the child said anything at all. Many don’t.

Incidentally, if any reader if thinking how horrid a job it must be to have children urinating near to you, just know that if you’ve ever been in a public pool in your life, you’ve swum through more piss than your own body weight. Simple facts.

Upon her return the sweet child continued to swim, then only a few scant minutes later looked up again. ‘I need to go to the toilet’. Ah, thought I, a ruse. ‘You just went, are you sure you really need to go?’ Then she spoke the phrase ‘But poos are coming’

The next thing I remember she was already on the edge of the pool being directed towards, I’d like to say a parent, but honestly anyone who wasn’t me.


in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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A comedy writer and film maker from Melbourne, Australia. I write for a variety of comedy things: Panel shows, TV shows, Web Series, Live Theater.

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