I love rivers because they hold secrets of the city, share joy and exhale melancholy. They connect people, scatter tears, devastate and dread, but before we indulge in this royal river tale, I would suggest you listen to the link below. The composition ‘Water Music’ by George Frideric Handel is the most powerful music performance able to present the strength, caprice, charm and quiver of this river, so put your headphones on and dive in.
As a child I’ve always considered London a magical place; no wonder my favorite book growing up was ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll.
“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
This story was the first to create a certain image in my head of the river Thames, where Alice played all day. There is one sentence that has stayed with me throughout all these years, the moment when Alice asked the rabbit how long forever is, and he said -‘sometimes, just one second’. Forever, in one second will the river Thames remain in my thoughts.
Alice: How long is forewer?
White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one secund.
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Years went by and after a couple of decades I finally set foot in London and of course I went straight to the river.The river is 346 km long, has 47 dams, 38 tributaries and a number of tunnels and bridges. In Sanskrit, ‘Tamas’ means ‘darkness’, and truly, on first sight, the river seems so dark and gloomy no wonder Charles Dickens saw it as an ideal crime scene whenever he mentioned it in his novels. The forever second-Thames, had officially marked the history of Britain. On that river, various events occurred such as Lord Mayor’s Day, which is still held in London, but on land. Celebrations like Queen’s Diamond Jubilee where ships appeared on the river, accompanied by music, singing and fireworks were a sensation. The adventures on the river are finely described in the book ‘Three Men in a Boat’ by the author Jerome K. Jerome. During the Queen’s Silver Jubilee a show to remember was performed by no other than the legendary group -the Sex Pistols. Also, many sport manifestations and regattas are organized on the river even today, for example, Thames’s Meander marathon which includes swimming, rowing and running on the Thames coast.
The river has about 80 little islands, some of them are: The Isle of Sheppey, Canvey Island and Rose Island. As said, there are about 200 bridges on the river. Besides the most popular Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge, I prefer bridges that are a little dated and wrecked, but yet strong and persevering. One of them is Radcot Bridge (Oxfordshire). This bridge has been a monument since the 13th century and is considered to be one of the oldest bridges on Thames. It is tucked away with verts and evokes old times. The bridge is made of stone and it’s been restored a couple of times, now it has beautiful vaults on the lower side that make wonderful reflections on water.
One certain thing that caught my eye was the fact that in the river live sea horses; they even found sea horses that populate the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. Scientists state that the presence of this fish in rivers is a very good sign because it‘s proof that the river is clean. Apart from sea horses, there are about 120 different fish in the Thames. Swans, seagulls, cormorants are usual friends of the river.
Rivers are a strange force of nature and it’s well known that they can be a weakness to some people. What I’ve said in the beginning about melancholy wasn’t accidental for there’s information that every week a human body appears on the coast of the river.
However, in my opinion, Thames is the flow of life. She gives London a deep, cheerful and artistic sense and on the other hand, she provides London with 2/3 of drinking water. On her coast you can see artists making sand sculptures and on the quay many dance shows and music performances are frequently organized which give London a specific and amusing tone.
Life goes on and so does the Thames. Sometimes it’s turbulent and sometimes it’s quiet and we just like the river, struggle with inner tempests but in the end, the most important thing is to always keep searching for flair and float on.