Saturday, January 17, 2009

John Mortimer (1923-2009)

A man with a bristling gray beard came and sat next to me at lunch. He had very pale blue eyes and an aggressive way of speaking. He began, at once and without any preliminary introduction, to talk about yachting in the English Channel.

“But isn't it very dangerous, your sport of yachting?”

“Not dangerous at all, provided you don't learn to swim. I made up my mind, when I bought my first boat, never to learn to swim.”

“Why was that?”

“When you're in a spot of trouble, if you can swim you try to strike out for the shore. You invariably drown. As I can't swim, I cling to the wreckage and they send a helicopter out for me. That's my tip, if you ever find yourself in trouble, cling to the wreckage!"

It was advice I have been following all of my life.

-John Mortimer


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