Wild Swimming

This has nothing to do with the new book.

Having been absent from England for a while there are a few new things around, some of which I don’t fully understand. Health & Safety hysteria is one example. Tony Blair’s tax situation is another. Argos I’ve never understood.

There’s also something called Wild Swimming. The last time I noticed it was called going swimming or taking a dip. Now it’s been re-branded by bohemian media types as “Wild Swimming”. It’s got its own websites; its own book and (of course) its own TV show. Wild? It’s making me livid.

I slightly get it. It’s some kind of romantic throwback to Victorian bathing that appeals to the trendier middle-class members of the RSPB and the National Trust. Those “don’t tell me what to do” and “I can walk anywhere I please” types that have missed out on the extreme sports boom due to bad knees and a fear of heights.

Wild swimming is perfect for these out-to-prove-a-point people. It’s real, authentic, intense and has a definite edge over the Tooting Bec Lido – but only in the sense that Cath Kidson and Boden have an edge over Debenhams and the Grattan home shopping catalogue.

It’s also slightly stupid. Who in their right mind would want to go for a swim in the freezing cold waters that surround 90% of Britain for 90% of the year? If the cold doesn’t get you a Panamanian supertanker probably will. As for swimming in a river you must be joking. I’ve seen one clean river in Britain in my life and even that eventually turned out to have a dead sheep floating in it upstream. It had probably been hit by a half-submerged shopping trolley or had died from drinking water that contained agricultural chemicals from a near-by field.

Hopefully this lunatic idea will have evaporated by next year but if it hasn’t my advice would be to get on a plane to the warmer waters of the Mediterranean. After all, that’s what package holidays were invented for in the first place.

Members of the Outdoor Wild Swimming Society can post hate mail on the comments page below.

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