24 May 2016 | 8 °C

03 August 2010 | News | By: M@

Matthew Parris Swims Thames, Gets Told Off

Matthew Parris Swims Thames, Gets Told Off


Newspaper columnist and Radio 4 mainstay Matthew Parris is in a spot of non-literal hot water after attempting to swim across the Thames. The 60-year-old journalist took to the river at Rotherhithe and paddled off towards Limehouse. But the normally level-headed correspondent mixed up his tide tables and, slipping into the water before high-tide, ended up three-quarters of a mile upriver. A spokesman for the Port of London Authority dubbed the stunt 'ignorant and selfish', pointing out that his presence might have caused fast boats to swerve dangerously. Parris has since acknowledged that his wanton bathing could have 'ended in disaster'. Incidentally and irrelevantly, the oldest known depiction of the River Thames was penned by the columnist's 13th Century near-namesake Matthew Paris, a monk and scholar of St Albans.


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Presumably he would agree that he deserves to be decapitated?


Roger Golten

Ben Franklin swam in the Thames about 300 years before Matthew Parris - In his late teens, while working in London in 1725, Ben Franklin showed off his swimming skills to friends: “I stript and leapt into the River, and swam from near Chelsea to Blackfryars, performing on the way many Feats of Activity both upon and under Water...” His “Feats” were widely discussed, and a few months later, Sir William Wyndham approached Franklin to ask him to teach his sons to swim. Franklin recalled in his Autobiography that, “From this Incident I thought it likely, that if I were to remain in England and open a Swimming School, I might get a good Deal of Money. And it struck me so strongly, that had the Overture been sooner made me, probably I should not so soon have returned to America.”

Roger Golten

By the way if you fancy a swim in London this month there are a number of alternatives to Old Father Thames - most notably The 1930s Marshall Street Baths which re-opened last week after restoration. Just near Carnaby Street, 100 feet long and marble lined with a superb barrel vaulted ceiling AND then there are the restored Victorian Kentish Town Baths along just re-opened. That's not to mention some superb Lidos. I would especially recommend Parliament Hill Lido run by The Corporation of London; 60m x 27m currently 21 degrees and with the most marvellous stainless steel lining that cost millions and gleams in the sun. The water is lovely, the visibility is outstanding - see you there!