The fear and attraction of watery depths

No doubt he’d be a pain in the arse as a mate, and—unless you’re feeling unusually charitable towards the instinct to provoke—he’s come out with some deeply dubious bullshit. But I kind of enjoy Jim Goad’s blog. The "write what you want when you want" school of blogging can lead to some interesting meanders and byways, but Goad’s compulsive "produce a 100-200 word nugget every evening" discipline is refreshing among the mire of blogs that could go anywhere but actually go nowhere.

Anyways, just read his fascinating little admission of his fear of things that inhabit watery depths. I kind of share this fear. His description of panicking while swimming in a lake and seeing a big dark shape move beneath him touches what has to be one of the most evocative images for me. I’ve an abiding memory of being a child on the banks of the river by my dad’s farm (actually, one of the many drains criss-crossing the ultra-flat Lincolnshire fens). The only things we ever caught when fishing in this stretch were small eels, but I dimly recall seeing a large shadow emerge into one of the clear patches between weeds. A rogue pike? I don’t know. I just completely freaked out, and ran away. These days I sometimes doubt the actual status of this odd memory…

As an adult, that image, of seeing unknown creatures’ dark forms shifting beneath the water’s surface, has recurred in dreams: a narwhal rising ominously from the ocean’s depths… schools of fish darting around glittering shallows… even the experience of dipping my head beneath the waves and seeing a vast submarine landscape of crushing beauty, spires and habitations merging with the coral reefs.

And one of my most wonderful head-trips while I was living in Hackney last year was to wander around London Fields in the late winter with headphones, tricking my mind into seeing the bare trees as mammoth plants on the sea floor.

Fear, yes; but attraction, too.

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