A tidal wave in 1929
At the end of July 1929 my mother and I were on holiday with my grand-parents in Hove. My mother was anxious to teach me to swim in the glorious warm weather so most days we would go to the beach. One morning my grandfather, a gentle man whom in his spare time did a lot of sea fishing, said in quite a stern voice, “Elsie don’t take that child to the beach today, there is something wrong.”
A fantastic sight
My mother who was a dutiful Edwardian daughter said, “Yes father,” and down to the beach we went! The sea was a fantastic sight about 2-3 feet deep as far as the eye could see. After managing just a few strokes my mother grabbed hold of my swimming costume and said “Quick, Vivie run.”
A huge wall of water
Our lovely ‘mill pond’ was receding at a rapid rate seaward, a quick look back showed me this high, huge wall of water racing towards us. The beach had not been crowded but I remember a man staggering up it with his wife in his arms. Then I don’t remember anymore until walking into my grandmother’s kitchen and her saying, “Elsie, get that child out of those wet clothes, I’ll light the fire and make her a hot cup of cocoa.”
Fear stays with you
I am now 90 and know the fear stays with you all your life. I subsequently became quite a good swimmer and diver, but the fear standing at the edge of a swimming pool or by the sea momentarily paralyses me. Even getting into the shower I have to tell myself I will be safe.