For an e-book about something I love – swimming – in a place that I adore – the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond on Hampstead Heath – I become amazed by my initial ambivalence in the direction of this ebook of essays.
It’s no longer because I need to jealously shield the tree-rimmed edges or moorhen-haunted water of the Ladies’ Pond (although right now of yr, it’s more like human soup than the secret space of wintry weather mornings).
I like to hear laughter and shrieks ringing out across the water as a great deal as I do the close to-silence of three girls slowly circling the January ice sheets.
Who could care approximately it past the M25?
No, it’s as it feels indulgent for there to be a whole quantity committed to a tiny frame of water in one of the maximum self-concerning bits of north London. Who, I concept, would supply a rattling approximately it passed – even inside – the M25?
But in I plunged, and shortly I changed into playing the odes to the Pond in wintry weather, spring, summer time and autumn by writers as grand as Margaret Drabble, Esther Freud and Deborah Moggach, and as first-rate on – and in – the water as Leanne Shapton (author of the brilliant Swimming Studies) and Jessica J Lee (whose Turning: A Swimming Memoir is next on my to-examine list).
Essays on motherhood, creativity, intellectual fitness and sex
It seems that I am now not by myself in looking for solace from a whirring mind and a churning city inside the fresh waters, with the essays taking up motherhood, creativity, mental health, city living, language, intercourse, the distracting strength of generation and grief. It is “an area that inspires and lingers inside the reminiscence,” a “small miracle” with an environment of “tranquil matrilineal kinship.”
If everybody has heard of the Ladies’ Pond out of doors of the capital, it can be due to information testimonies approximately external protesters taking difficulty with who may additionally pass the “WOMEN ONLY” sign at the pond gate.
This is blanketed by way of So Mayer, who describes her pain at being assigned female in a piece of writing that bobs among Gerard Manley Hopkins, Dido Elizabeth Belle, historical myths and gender essentialism. For her, the Pond has emerged as torture; for others, it’s remote paradise.
A seven-foot snake and giant carp
In one thrilling story, Nell Frizzell gives perception into being a lifeguard on the Pond, letting civilians see into the name of the game sisterhood of existence-saving naiads. The strangest issue her colleague had ever found there? “A seven-foot reticulated python approximately three ft from the higher meadow.” It will live in my thoughts forever, as will Moggach’s throwaway line approximately the fish that live inside the combined pond nearby: “The water almost boils with giant carp, their lips gaping open like sex dolls.”
To see this most valuable oasis through the eyes and phrases of those writers is a treat – like an assembly a stranger and locating you have got a high-quality mutual girl buddy, one who soothes, confides, excites and advises.
So sure, it is an indulgence, this ebook, but so, too, is slipping far from each day existence to swim. And I can’t live with out that.
Buzz said, “Swimming is not about how tons effort you may put into splashing in the water. You need to discover ways to swim better. You need to discover ways to swim cozy and to conserve electricity for The Run and The Bike. We will not win the race in The Swim. However, we will lose it there.” Buzz then told The Swim to try to take it sluggish and steady down the lane in place of thrashing round like a fish out of water. He persisted, “You ought to be comfy within the water. If you swing your hands out to some distance or kick an excessive amount of, then you’ll truely put on yourself out. Your instances will no longer get any better, and you may be no longer capable of preserve quality patience swim if you are thrashing approximately.”