In the Bath, By Tim Fitzhigham

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

What can you say about a man who sets to sea in a bath? Being unkind, it's the sort of comic caper that suggests an imminent rendezvous with Jeremy Clarkson; a grandiose lunge at absurdity that's actually monstrously dull. Fortunately, while Tim Fitzhigham may be halfway to Clarkson via a Richard Hammond quote on his book's jacket, the story of how he spent two summers trying to be the first person to row the English Channel in a bath is actually rather absorbing.

From an idea hatched in his parents' bath ("a Noel Coward song about a man rowing an India rubber bath across Lake Windermere ripped into my head") to diplomatic wrangles with the French navy, and being marooned on a sandbank, writing poetry among seals, this is a tale of discreetly exotic incidents. Fitzhigham comes across as likeable, and his tin bath as a sturdy symbol of British endeavour – even if the sight of it perched on a kind of catamaran rather than submerged to the rim in the sea is a little disappointing.