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April Pond Life by Robert Sutherland Smith

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 1 May 2013

At 8 degrees - the swimming temperature is chalked on a board each day – these intoxicating waters of Hampstead Heath, sparkling and dancing in the early morning sun of an early May morning have the coolness and body of champagne; perhaps a Dom Perignon 55 in deference to Ian Fleming, who once lived nearby and who may have had a swim or two here in his days living on the edge of Hampstead Heath. All Etonians are taught to swim after all. The idea of 007 swimming in champagne seems perfectly normal. The water clinches you in a thrillingly cool embrace that would have pleased Her Majesty’s secret agent, as it does me. Did not 007 seduce some gorgeous foreign agent by a river whilst sipping the classic vintage? I trust the lady was stirred but not shaken. 

Pond swimming prompts the imagination. I consider the policies of our Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne - wondering if he could in fact be a vampire; an economic Count Dracula, sucking demand out of the neck of the British economy in the name of Friedrich Hayek who has a name that sounds suspiciously Transylvanian to my British ears. There is a vampire tenacity about George, as he keeps on seeking and sucking the lifeblood of economic demand; the victim turning an ever deathly white. As with all vampires, there seems no intellectual intermediation of a fearful mindless compulsion. Nothing can prevent him it seems, from rising from the coffin of his economic policy each night! Not even Christine Largarde of the IMF wearing a garlic around neck and carrying a crucifix in front of here. In literary terms, it is Bram Stoker meets a Greek tragedy by Sophocles in which, George turns the British economy into the zombie like walking dead of a modern Euroland Greece. In fact the whole of northern Europe from Berlin to London seems to be in the grip of an empire of policy vampires.  

The champagne quality water laps about my own neck and shoulders as I swim on. The flying creatures above fortunately proving to be swallows lately arrived from South Africa not vampires; anyway it is after dawn. Having heard the economic policy of Nigel Farage, I realize that he too has been bitten by the super austerity of vampires. They say he stays out late out night! One wonders why he wants to quit a European Union that is following his own economic policy? We shall need to bury them all, along with the ideas of Friedrich Hayek at some cross roads, at midnight, with wooden stakes at the ready. That may be the only way I fear. 

Having swum for thirty minutes I climb up the steps back onto the small jetty and dry myself. I gaze back at the Vive Clicquot waters sparkling in the hope and light of a springtime morning

Robert Sutherland Smith

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Tom Winnifrith is the editor of TomWinnifrith.com. When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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