Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Idyllic III

Once upon a time Prince Charming and his newish bride (one out of one newish brides) were driving round Ireland with one car, one tent, two canoes and two bikes. (They had, at this stage, no fridge.) They went to see the James Joyce Tower on their way from Dublin to the Wicklow Hills, and there they fell in love with Sandycove. They swam and canoed here, with seals, though this is the tame side of the rocky outcrop. The real thing- the Forty Foot- is on the other.
The Forty Foot became an "official" outdoor swimming spot in the late nineteenth century, and was a male only preserve. I am absolutely certain that I read somewhere of the nude nature of swimming off Forty Foot- hence, one must presume, the single sex rule! Now you are not allowed to swim in your birthday suit...
 Although, as you can see from our shots on Friday night, those swimming on the rougher side were encased all in wetsuits and probably needed no encouragement in the wearing thereof.
On the more sheltered side however there was a gentleman, fully dressed by now, pulling on his socks whose little bundle of swimming gear did not seem to hold such a new-fangled, lily livered nonsense as a wetsuit.
 I was with him. In spirit.
Just to the left of the strawberries are small concrete cubicles- not at all closed or private- with pegs bashed in for the holding of your clothes. Women can swim here now too- and have been admitted for oh maybe twenty-five years? Although as far as I know they still don't have the right to be full members, and thus gain a key to the clubhouse...
Joyce does describe swimming at Forty Foot in the opening pages of Ulysses: He capered before them down towards the fortyfoot hole.. They followed the winding path down to the creek. A young man clinging to a spur of rock near him moved slowly frogwise his green legs in the deep jelly of the water. An elderly man shot up near the spur of rock a blowing red face. He scrambled up by the stones, water glistening on his pate and on its garland of grey hair, water rilling over his chest and paunch and spilling jets out of his black sagging loincloth.
I'm wondering is there always the elderly gentleman, are there always the seals, will one day I too swim?

A voice, sweettoned and sustained, called to him from the sea. Turning the curve he waved his hand. It called again. A sleek brown head, a seal's, far out on the water, round.

5 comments:

M.K. said...

Although I love Joyce, I never read Ulysses. I never read anything more challenging than "Portrait of an Artist," which was wonderful. What an interesting spot to visit! You must swim there someday ... when it's warmer!

Jane and Chris said...

The black sagging loin cloth had me worried.
Jane x

Pom Pom said...

Oh, the sea! I love it so.
YOU are a cutie pie and I love your coat.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Mags, you dear, sweet woman! This is another lovely post and, like you, I'm there in spirit. I'm not strong enough to swim in such turbulent waters but I can sure stand on the side lines and cheer.

Fat Dormouse said...

What a wonderful time you all had! I enjoy reading about your exploits. You have such a fun and joyous style of writing!!!