Saturday, June 28, 2008

Eel redux

At the Sunday Times, Matt Rudd discusses two new books about wild swimming (I am thinking that Kate Rew's is the one I must get):
Guides to the best wild swimming in Britain are like buses. None for years, then two in a month. It's not quite a trend but we could pretend it is, couldn't we, please, because wild swimming is the one thing that can make everything all right again. No really. It's the thing we've lost in all the health-and-safety tape and the chlorine. We have boxed ourselves into a million turquoise rectangles. Both these books reignite that basic desire to run to the nearest riverbank, tear off all your clothes and jump in. Then jump out again because it's f-f-f-f-f-freezing.

Wild Swim, bus number one, describes the entering of wild waters as a passport to a different world, or worlds. A touch hyperbolic, but bus number two, Wild Swimming, goes further, citing the naturalist Sir Alistair Hardy's evolutionary theory that being in water is more than just a pleasure, it is at the core of the human condition. “During the 10m years of Pliocene world droughts, while our species was busy evolving into uprightness, we did not, suggests Hardy, choose the arid deserts of Africa as our home, but the more tempting shallows of the nearby Indian Ocean. Our subsequent life on dry land is a relatively recent and bereft affair.”

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