Sunday, July 26, 2009

Nobody Drownded

Remember that couplet from the comic verse Albert and the Lion, about the famous seaside place called Blackpool?

There was no wrecks, and nobody drownded
'Fact nothing to laugh at at all

There was nobody drownded on South Beach, Tenby, yesterday. But there so easily could have been.

Of course, Tenby is one of my very favourite places and here's a photo of the beautiful South Beach, on a sunny summer's evening:

One of the things about the Tenby beaches is that they are safe for swimming - as long as you swim in the marked places.

We take our sea swimming seriously in this household. I have always loved it, and so do my mother and Olli.

Stephen is not so keen, partly because the sea is often cold and, more crucially, because his father was drowned in an accident, aged 42, swimming in Cornwall. Stephen was eleven. Stephen and his brother were both swept out to sea too, but survived. Stephen's mother, a non-swimmer, watched the whole thing from the beach, and actually I don't think she's ever got over it.

Can you imagine the horror of it? Stephen's mother didn't cope very well afterwards. His brother, then three years older, went "off the rails" for a while. Stephen had to become "the man of the house" at a very young age. The ramifications of this terrible accident have lasted until the present day in many ways.

So we don't take any chances whilst swimming in the sea.

Yesterday, a party of thirty-six teenagers from deprived parts of Wales, on a team-building exercise, were walking backwards, fully dressed, into the sea on South Beach, Tenby, as the tide turned - the most dangerous time of course. A sandbank they were standing on collapsed, and suddenly they were all out of their depth, fully clothed.

You can read a fuller report of the accident, plus see some videos about it, here.

The trouble is, if you take teenagers from inner-city areas they'll have no useful knowledge of the sea, so they are reliant on the people in charge of them.

One of the videos shows the leader trying to justify it all. He's wrong. Yes, it's good for young people to go in the sea - in very, very small groups - not the groups of eight that he mentions - very closely supervised, when the sea is calm, the weather is warm, the tide is coming in and they're wearing swimsuits.

Otherwise, forget it. The time between having fun and drowning can be just a few short minutes. It's not worth the risk. If I sound like a killjoy, it's because I have some knowledge, from Stephen's experience, of how terrible such an accident can be.


Blogger Bernard said...

How uncanny, how strange, what a coincidence. I was typing this at
9 o'clock this morning,

9:04 pm  
Blogger Bernard said...

PS It should be "The Lion and Albert"

9:06 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Oh good heavens... what an awful burden for Stephen to bear all these years. The ramifications of a tragedy like that invariably last a lifetime and may even transmit to the next generation in subtle uncharted ways. Thank heavens he found you somewhere along life's thorny path.... And those youngsters...their leaders were fools, but ultimately they are very lucky fools whose negligence could have scarred so many people's lives forever and beyond.

12:09 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Bernard - - you're right about the title, of course - - I always get it wrong!
YP - yes, I think it has affected him too of course, and particularly when he first met me, when he was only eighteen, and hence only a few years since the accident - I had to work very hard to show him I'd be safe in the sea.

11:14 pm  

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