"With all this glorious sun we have had this summer it was sad to hear about the many drownings that occurred by people taking a swim in some river to cool off. I know the arguments about the acute differences in temperature between the water on the surface of the water and a few inches beneath, and yet cannot help thinking, but wasn't it always thus? I never realised as a boy all those years ago, the dangers we obviously faced each time we swam in the River Calder or some works' dam in order to cool off during the hot summer months and although I never knew a person who did drown, I must confess that I did hear of a few such tragic accidents.
I recall each time that I holidayed back in County Waterford, Ireland, of spending many summer days skinny dipping in the river up Curraghmore where we all knew never to swim near a whirl pool there that had taken the lives of a number of people in the past. I also wonder about all the children of Third World countries who live, wash, work, fish and swim in their rivers; many of which are reportedly less clean or safer than ours are in England. Don't they face similar dangers to us here in the West or is it merely that we are not aware of prevailing dangers and they are?
Perhaps a part of it could be down to the low level of risk we are prepared to take today as opposed to a time and place where earlier death was a more common feature of one's life and if the waters didn't get you, the tigers, famine, low-grade gin, tuberculosis, consumption, coal dust or the slave-driving mill and factory owners did?" William Forde: August 28th, 2013.