In the beach bag, carefully wrapped so they don't get wet, there are two books: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and Sense and sensibility by Jane Austen. I'm reading the first one, but when I finish it I'll also read the second one, because there are few things more stimulating than another person talking to you about the book they're immersed in, telling you what it awakens in them, thinking about it aloud or reading it to you a piece.
Maybe it's because summer is coming to an end, but quite unintentionally these two novels make me think of the sea. And with the gesture of bathing in it. It always amazes me how quickly we forget the past, people, or how often we believe that our way of living, thinking, or doing things is universal, obvious and timeless. Swimming in the sea, for example.
The treasure island reminds me of the phrase "save yourself by the hair", which supposedly was coined around 1809, when Joseph Bonaparte, younger brother of Napoleon who had just occupied the Spanish throne, issued a law that required sailors to cut their hair. The protests did not take long because the long hair had its reasons; it made it easier to spot a man who had fallen into the sea and increased the chances of grabbing a lock of his hair at the last moment and pulling him out of the water to save his life, because in the past, despite spending half his life in high seas, most sailors (and pirates) did not know how to swim.
Sanity and sentiment makes me think of bathroom machines. A bathing machine was a small cart with a roof and wooden wall or curtains that either a horse or an individual dragged to the water so that the bathers of Austen's time (especially female bathers, because men enjoyed more freedom) could change their clothes and dive into the sea as etiquette dictated; without being seen. Some English beaches even offered the services of a dipper, a person of the same sex as the bather who submerged him and took him out of the sea.
Lacking a horse, cart and curtains, we stripped uninhibitedly and swam in the sea. Then we played pretend to be drowned and save ourselves by our hair. In other words, to pull us out of the water by grabbing our hair, which, as a beach game, I would recommend with a 1 out of 10.