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thoughts & musings :: CCC

Friday, 14 October 2005

Maspalomas diary 01 - The Prologue (Many years ago)

I am not even going to attempt to recall how old I was when it happened. I was somewhere between 10 and 15 I think. But my age doesn't matter really, as it didn't start there. It has always been there, a form of aquaphobia - fear of water.

As a baby I hated the baths and I've never liked swimming pools or the sea. It's not that bad now. I love going in the sea now, Hayley in the sea in a bikini helped overcome that one, but I'm still a non-swimmer.

I enjoy deep baths to relax in. But still, even when in the shower, when I rinse off my face and feel my whole face engulfed by the flow of water then a tiny tingle of panic goes through me for a split second.

I sometimes stand on the edge of piers at the beach and stare down at the vast blue below, imagining with trepidation dropping into it.

So it didn't start here, walking back from Tor fair in Glastonbury one night, but this was a significant milestone, this was certainly one of the pins in the map of my life rather than just a section of the red string that joins them.

The family car was parked in the rugby club car park near to the field where the fair was. Glastonbury used to be (a 1000 or so years ago) an 'island' surrounded by swampy marshland. The marshes are drained now by long ditches and rhines that criss-cross the moors.

The road back to the rugby club is dark as there are no lights. In the corner of the car park a plank crosses the ditch to the road. Rather than walk round to the main entrance, for some reason (Some prankish boyish reason I guess) I decide to take a short cut across the plank.

I thought I knew where the plank was.

I thought I could see it.


I step onto the plank but my foot sails through the apparition and I tumble down the bank. I roll through countless nettles that sting every available patch of skin and then the panic sets in. The fall is nothing, the endless lashes from the nettles I can live with, but I know what looms in the darkness below.

I hear the splash and feel the cold water envelop me. My limbs just freeze and I slide under water. Not being a swimmer and never voluntarily ducking my head under water (well, I do occasionally in the sea and in the bath but not often) I have no idea what it feels like for other people, if it's similar or not.

When the water closes in, I cannot breathe (obviously), my eyes shut tight, water pours into my nose and throat. That gurgling stifling deafness fills my ears and only the rumble of my mind remains. My limbs go numb. All sense of up or down slowly dissolves.

In truth, what it really feels like is that the entire world is washed away and my body dissolves, leaving just my mind floating in the water, thinking deep and panicked thoughts that basically 'This is it.' whatever your mind thinks next could be the last thought you have.

Somehow something automatic kicks in and I find myself upright and standing, coughing up hideous black ditch water. Shivering more through the trauma than the biting winter air.

I struggle up the bank. My family don't know I went under and just throw questions at me.

"What you up to now?"
"What have you done?"

Drowning in water. It is a situation I have always feared. It is a situation that terrified me then and it is a situation I had always hoped I would never have to face again...


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