Harry was no wimp. He prided himself on maintaining old school Kiwi values – hard work, hard play, and facing life’s challenges with stoical determination. Now that he was retired, his wife Mavis often said he should ease up a bit; but he knew that tempting prospect was not for him.
Sport had always had a prominent place in Harry’s life and altho’ Sky TV was very entertaining, he believed that there was nothing better than doing it yourself. Harry got a real buzz when Mavis said that he had the physique of a man half his age; but lately, he felt that the dreaded middle-aged spread was beginning to show. Even holding his breath in front of the mirror, could not hide the fact he was losing the ‘Battle of the Bulge’.
Harry’s best mate Fred did not seem to have this problem and yet he downed as many beers as Harry did at the local. So he asked Fred how he managed this. Fred replied, “No worries, I just work it off in the new swimming pool at Selwyn Park”. Harry decided to take the plunge and join him there every week. The only drawback was that Mavis said “You must be kidding!” when he asked her to come along too in the winter.
The new pool was ideal, fifty metres long and uncovered. Hardly anyone went there during the cooler months and very often they had the pool to themselves. It was refreshingly bracing and after the staff had carefully skimmed off the dead leaves, it was perfect.
That was until Fred gravely announced at the pub one night that the Council was going to close the pool for half the year due to a lack of patronage. Fred put it down to some joker writing to the paper, labeling the new pool as the “Seldom Parked Pool”.
“We can’t let them get away with that!” said Harry. “Too right mate” Fred replied. “We have formed an action group to somehow get some hard cash coming in to help the Council fend off the Bean Counters. It was a bit touch and go for awhile, but we think we’ve got it sorted.”
Fred finished off the jug of beer and continued. “You see, all we had to do was a bit of lateral thinking. Dargaville needs more than just an Olympic sized pool to put it on the map and guess what, I hit on the solution while I was watching the news on telly. It just so happens that the Singapore Zoo is looking to find a home for its two polar bears, Sheba and Inuku. I know how stinking hot it can get there and they would be much happier in a cooler climate like ours. We reckon we can get them over here at no cost to the ratepayer and negotiate with the zoo to cover all the costs of travel and alterations to our new pool.”
Harry looked like a stunned mullet and needed time to think. Recovering, he turned to Fred and then said in a voice that had heads turning all along the bar, “If you think I am going to share the pool with bloody polar bears you must be raving mad!”
Fred appeared not in the least concerned. “Calm down mate.” He said with a sly grin. “It’ll be ok, these bears are hand raised and wouldn’t hurt a flea… aah, as long as they’re well fed of course. Anyway, they won’t be using the pool much because they tell us the bears sleep most of the time. When they are awake, there will be extra spin offs for the Olympic training squads. Just imagine the performance improvements when the kids see a polar bear just behind them when they enter the last lap. Once the records start being broken, we’ll have them flocking here from all parts of the country to get a slice of the action. I tell you what mate, it’s a win, win solution.”