Di Motton tells of the lengths parents go to for their kids.

IT WAS the height of the European summer. We had hired a petite campervan, crushing the family into the size of our bathroom back home and convinced the children and ourselves that we were having fun.

Day after day was predictably hot and we had hugged the coastline of France to feel a cool breeze and dip into the Atlantic Ocean. But at the bottom of France we turned inland away from the beach and found ourselves in the city of Bordeaux, famous for its red wine. By late afternoon it was stinking hot and we needed a swimming pool to quell the whinges of our two young children, who had not the least bit of interest in vineyards. Driving around the town, eyes looking out for a piscine municipale, we finally spied one, parked the campervan, disrobed and emerged in our bathers ready to plunge into the cool pool, thanks to the taxpayers of rural France.

But happiness can be ephemeral. No sooner had I dared to hope that the family was settled for a microsecond than a rather gorgeous, slim, muscular French lifeguard approached my husband and me. He rattled off a few phrases, I caught a word or two, he reverted to halting English and between us I came to understand that husband's long board shorts were considered indecent, regarded by the French as street clothes and banned from being worn at a public pool! Quelle horreur! We were expected to leave the premises straight away! I put on my best sad and sorry face and in more halting French, batting my eyelids as often as was decently possible, asked: "Was there a solution to be found?"

Le gorgeous lifeguard, resplendent in his own tiny pair of Lycra bathers, pondered a moment, looked hubby up and down, and replied with, "Peut-e{aci}tre, un moment. I av un other pair!"

A few minutes later he emerged from his office with a few square centimetres of dark-blue Lycra, camouflaging itself as a pair of bathers. Triumphantly, he held them in the air, declared, "Voila! Le solution!" and handed them to my shocked husband.

With much shrugging of the shoulders and "mais oui, monsieur" from the lifeguard, husband reluctantly shuffled off to the change room, to emerge a few minutes later, a rather hang-dog expression on his face, his body hardly covered by the three-sizes-too small borrowed bathers. We all tried valiantly to keep a straight face. Husband declared that he looked like a boiled egg with an elastic band stretched over it.

But such was the price for family harmony. Husband stayed immersed in the water all day. I returned the bathers at the end of the day, thanking le gorgeous lifeguard. Walking back to the waiting family, I sighed inwardly, wishing that husband could have a body transplant.

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