Last year, when I replied "Not yet" to a passing jogger who enquired if, while I was up a ladder in the Hogsmill River tending to my tripod, I was "In trouble", I must have tapped into some prescient faculty. Why? Because 7 months later, while trying to get a BMX bike into the same river I slipped on the sodden clay riverbank and slid, with inexorable slowness, into the deepest pool in that stretch, over 2m deep. As the cold water filled my waders - not my favourite sensation - I discovered that nothing motivates a hasty exit from a watercourse like a) fear of drowning and b) having your iPhone in your trouser pocket. I clawed my way up the riverbank as If I had just evolved and was keen to get my towel onto this novel new dry land thing my fellow amphibians were raving about but ended up, flat on my back and panting, looking like Ophelia by way of the cover to the Slits' "Cut" and smelling very, very bad. Whoever called fresh water "fresh" should take a fully-clothed dip in the Hogsmill.
Worse was to come. As I emptied out the contents of my pockets to dry I realised I would have to retrieve my prop - the BMX - from the bottom of the river. I can't believe I did this but I stripped off to my underwear and socks and jumped back in to the river, wrestled the bloody bike back out and counted myself lucky that no dog walkers had stopped to stare at this bizarre aquatic ritual. The wounding of my dignity continued - of course! - with walking in soaking wet clothes and muddy waders back to the car and driving home to the coast in my underwear. I'm relieved I wasn't stopped for speeding - "Sir, can you explain why you are driving trouserless in wet and pungent undergarments?"
"Officer, it's a long story."