A Serious House on Serious Earth

Many things cause me to think of the Channel. I remember coming south from St. Margaret’s bay to Dover after completing a double relay in 2008, and though it was dark, the Channel was flaring like phosphorus in my mind.

The realy team were considering the possibilities and our own thoughts. The Wicked Witch of the West and The Unnamed Swimmer both said immediately they’d never consider it.The Wicked Witch of the West remarked how having seen it close up she could no longer imagine doing a solo or even understand how anyone would consider it.

Amy said maybe, but in the future, not soon. I mused, said I didn’t know. But I think I did. I signed up within weeks. I’m done, The Bull took three years and three unbelievable attempts, one of which almost killed him.

I think of Jim The Swift Swimmer saying he thought Channel swimming was over-rated and still can’t understand that. He hasn’t seen enough of it. Afterall I never thought in our group that I’d be one sacrificial victim of the extremities of the Channel.

Fast Eddie mentioned to me the impossibility of comparing any two Channel swims, something he also had learned. The Channel looms large in my mind, is never far away.

I’ve been there twice and both were difficult. I’ve lost a friend there. Knew another of the lost ones. Could have died there myself. It is brutal like few other things in life I’ve seen.

I’m reminded of Philip Larkin’s words from “Church-Going” and it seems condign to misappropriate them. It’s how I think of the Channel.

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.

I am a channel swimmer. No other title matters.


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