It’s been a funny time down at Clevedon Beach. Suddenly you can’t go for a swim without tripping over a BBC camera man, so it was about time that a drawing appeared to commemorate it.
So far as I was involved, it all started when a request appeared on Facebook from the BBC for people to be filmed swimming in the sea, on a damp and grey Tuesday in late November. Paying very little attention to what the filming was for, this being the sort of thing that I was happy to do anyway regardless of camera crew, I happily agreed and toddled along on the appointed day.
There was faffing. Much has been mentioned about the ability of cold water swimmers to faff, but let me tell you the combination of cold water swimmers and film crew pushed this to new heights. Which was just as well, since the appointed meeting time was 10.30am, with a high but neap tide due at 1pm. Not one but all 14 swimmers probably pointed out, individually and at various times when action looked like it was about to happen, that this meant that nobody was going to be able to get in the actual sea until getting on for 12. This is the Bristol Channel after all. The ‘sea’ must first come in, approaching Clevedon across sinking mud and rocks, and slow down a bit, before there is any question of actually getting in it.
Time enough for bacon sandwiches, a second round of coffee, and a third check that none of us sported any trace of logos about our person. Time for a trip to the beach and back to the meeting room at the Pier, and back to the beach again. Whereupon I should say that the BBC, concerned for the welfare of their subjects, offered hot water bottles, in fluffy glittery coats (the water bottles had the coats on, the BBC also did, but they were not glittery).
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was a little surprised to find that come January 1st, I was in most of the newspapers and my bottom was all over BBC1, repeatedly, that we had been photographed by Martin Parr, a famous photographer, and that everyone I know had noticed. And the Twitterati were upset about the loss of hippos. It was slightly surreal.
Since then we have had two more lots of BBC camera people getting us to re-create the scene, partly I think to prove that it wasn’t just a one-off and we really do swim all year. It looked just the same, except for a proliferation of gloves… it is January now, some small concession to the English climate is allowable.
This particular drawing was inspired by Countryfile, on Monday of last week. Traffic on the M5 had meant I was nearly 20 minutes late, but fortunately the faffing was in full swing and I joined in like I’d been there all the time.
And if you still haven’t seen my bottom on BBC1, here you go: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38486283
(I’m in the blue snowflake costume, and for the record, no, I don’t have a bruise on my bottom, it’s dent where I hit a tree, sledging, when I was about 14…)