"What time is it Dad?"
It's the fourth time of asking. Captain Matthew is taking his responsibilities very seriously.
I check my watch. "It's twenty five past nine."
"OK Dad just five minutes and then we go"
I don't want to go though. Not this morning. Not in the rain.
It seemed a good idea last night in the hot evening sun. I was hot. We were all hot and the pools and slides looked so refreshing. But we were too late; the baths were closing. So I made a com-promise; swimming in the morning, as soon as the pool opens.
Mist lines the hills, feeding the river
"Time to go," announces Matthew and what the Captain of the Day says goes; it's what we all agreed. The daily Captaincy is no puppet role; it's a job with real power and real responsibility. For one day in five, you're the boss, whether the others like it or not.
"Do you really think swimming is a good idea in the rain?" I ask, trying to influence the situation without appearing to take over. But I don't really need an answer. On the starting block in front of me stand three grinning kids, costumes and towels at the ready. I feel like a recalcitrant child, mooching along but with no intention of going in.
"Come on Mum, Dad. The pool's open now." We obediently follow the Captain and his crew. They'll be no mutiny this morning lest we should get one on our shift.
It takes three rings on the bell to get an attendant to the admission kiosk. They're clearly not expecting visitors. Inside the pool is empty; I'm not surprised. Raindrops tickle at the pools, patterning the surface with thousands of tiny rippling circles. Then a splash and a scream as the boys spiral down the water slide and into the pool.
"Come on Dad," they shout, "it's really fun."
Their enthusiasm tugs at me. I think of all the things I've done to them as Captain Parent; all the times I've taken them out of their comfort zone, encouraged them, cajoled them, bribed them, forced them to do things that perhaps they didn't want to do. I remember how I tell them it will be good for them, that they might even enjoy it, what will happen to them if they don't do what they're told, and of how ultimately they usually comply.
The air is cool on my skin. Raindrops tickle my neck and back. There's a great view of the Main twisting down the misty valley from the top of the slide but I'm not there long enough to appreciate it.
"Go on Dad, down you go."
I feel a shove from behind. The clouds spin above me as I'm slapped from side to side down a giant yellow plastic tube and brace myself to plunge into the pool. Heart pounding, I emerge from under the icy water with a cough and splutter as I try to rid myself of a mouthful of chlorinated water.
"It's good isn't it Dad?"
I have to admit it is. Over and over again. Up the stairs and down the plastic tube. I'm swimming in the rain and I love it. It's crazy, it's stupid, it's invigorating, it's fun. No more the recalcitrant child but another over-excited kid.
I'd never have done it on my own. Kirstie could never have persuaded me either. But Captain Matt has made me do it and I thank him for it. Why not try a little power inversion in your family and see what you end up doing?