When I was a young, innocent choirboy, I was acutely aware of the stern rhetoric on the perils of sin, delivered by my local Anglican vicar.
His previous calling as a Jesuit priest had clearly shaped his belief that purgatory was waiting for anybody foolish enough to deviate from the straight and narrow.
Looking back, I suspect his preoccupation was based on a struggle with personal demons, possibly because he had turned his back on his celibate Jesuit calling, in favour of donning the more accommodating cloth of Anglicism.
This allowed him to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh, in the form of a wife.
Curious about eternal damnation, I once asked him: "What happens in purgatory?" He gravely explained that it was any place where one temporarily suffers torment, awaiting release to heaven or to hell.
He created images of lost souls aimlessly circling in sulphurous heat, desperate to have their past sins purified so they could move on to somewhere more tranquil.
With adulthood, I shed my choirboy innocence and his dire warnings were forgotten. That is, until recently, when once again his visions of eternal damnation loomed starkly in front of me.
Purgatory has finally arrived for this lost soul on Saturday mornings, when I'm rudely woken before dawn and commanded to take my children to a stifling heated enclosure, reeking not of sulphur, but the next best thing: chlorine. This is the place where people - mostly fathers, the principal sinners - gather to aimlessly circle in a swimming pool, clutching and dipping their little ones as the prelude to water confidence.
Welcome to stage 1 of purgatory.
As one's offspring become efficient little swimmers, the ritual expands, year in, year out.
In summer it's unbearable, sitting on the sideline, putting up with the heat and the smell of chlorine, but not allowed to join the budding swimmers in the pool.
The 9-year-old has been upgraded to competitive training, and the 3-year-old is still at the tadpole stage.
With purgatory stretching out for at least another decade, it's difficult for this wretched sinner not to fall on his knees seeking mercy.
But the caregiver assures me I'm getting off lightly. For many sinners, the ultimate purgatory is standing all winter on muddy, windswept sports fields watching small children kick a ball around.