Tuesday, 30 July 2013

High Tide05:10 (2.20m)
Low Tide10:23 (1.00m)
High Tide17:01 (2.40m)
Low Tide23:25 (0.90m)
Sea temperature: not taken but felt very warm
Sea conditions: rough with a strong current
Weather: strong cool wind from the south, clouds
Joined by: The Usual Suspects
Topics of conversation: 
Jellyfish - there had been an article on the BBC News website about the rapid increase in jellyfish blooms around the UK coast over the last couple of weeks. There were no conclusions drawn as to why the increase was sudden, other than the poor weather earlier in the year and apparently there are regular surges in the population, which is entirely natural. Earlier in the month the Foreign Office issued travel advice for Greece warning that there had been large blooms in their clear waters, on the South west coast of the UK there are reports of growing numbers of Lion's Mane, our largest ones which can reach 2m wide. They are so big that they eat the Moon jellyfish that we get here, which don't have a powerful sting and are quite, quite beautiful. I'd been stung yesterday, and whilst it's not pleasant it's not worse than a nettle sting but the sea was rough and the idea of getting one in the face didn't fill me with joy. Sara opted to keep her long legged suit on and I took my mask out incase it was swimmable. It wasn't. As The Artist pointed out, it looks safe from the shore, but once you are in the undertoad was strong and the waves had real power in them, knocking us off our feet in turns. All in all it wasn't one of the best swims of the year.
The Trip to Echo Spring - by Olivia Laing, which is published tomorrow. Whilst the book is predominantly about the relationship between writers and alcohol she had also written an article for the Times at the weekend about not only their struggle with alcohol but the common link for Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, John Cheever, John Berryman and Tennessee Williams to swimming. She refers to their need to quell anxiety and the desire to drink being akin to the desire to be immersed. "Liquor and swimming, Tennessee Williams said in an interview in the 1960's "is all that keeps me going.." Hemingway writes about some black impulse to empty his lungs of air, as he swam in the mile and a half deep waters of Key West, and letting himself drown whilst Fitzgerald wrote about immersion as a life saving practice (for a man trapped in an unhappy marriage) in The Swimmers:
When difficulties became insurmountable, inevitable, Henry sought surcease in exercise. For three years, swimming had been a sort of refuge, and he turned to it as one man to music or another to drink. There was a point when he would resolutely stop thinking and go to the Virginia coast for a week to wash his mind in the water. Far out past the breakers he could survey the green-and-brown line of the Old Dominion with the pleasant impersonality of a porpoise. The burden of his wretched marriage fell away with the buoyant tumble of his body among the swells, and he would begin to move in a child's dream of space. Sometimes remembered playmates of his youth swam with him; sometimes, with his two sons beside him, he seemed to be setting off along the bright pathway to the moon.
For Kierkegard, anxiety was the hallmark of the creative mind, and it's certainly true that anxiety causes the mind to wander, with worry about the future being identified as the predominant thought pattern prior to suicide attempts. This illustration, by Andrew Kuo shows how his worries were structured in 2010, to lighten the mood.

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