You don’t have to be down a rabbit hole for things to transform unexpectedly in front of you,” he told those who could be bothered to listen to him as he waved his pint of beer dangerously in the air. “The first that I noticed of the alarmingly high level of the sea was when a giant wave overflowed the seawall in slow motion and flooded the deck of the boat that the towpath had become.” He paused in his storytelling, unable to continue as a violent fit of coughing wracked his body. “I frantically tried to pick up the cushions and pillows scattered here and there in a desperate attempt to keep them dry,” he pursued breathlessly. “There were already several inches of water in the boat as I stuffed the cushions onto the top bunk beds. Suddenly the boat heaved violently to one side,” and he staggered drunkenly sideways as if struck once again by the waves. “It couldn’t be possible, I thought, boats just don’t capsize so easily. But to prove me wrong, the boat rolled over on its side and began to sink, filling corridors and berths with water. It all happened so quickly.” He paused again to catch his breath as he ran the palm of his hand absentmindedly across his forehead and then rubbed his eyes. “Navigating the water-filled corridors I swam under water till I finally made it to the surface. Several things troubled me. The water was not cold at all. I would have expected seawater in the middle of the ocean to be freezing. And then there was the breathing. I had no difficulty holding my breath for what must have been minutes. Not that I had much time to worry about these things at the time.” He shook his head in disbelief, as did many of those listening to him, although probably not for the same reasons. “To my surprise, once outside, only one young man on a wind-sail was in sight. ‘Is that all the rescue we get?’ I spluttered as I fought against the waves. ‘Of course not!’ the voice of an unseen man called out. ‘There are many more of us.’” He paused to take a long swig of his beer, wiping the froth left by the beer around his mouth with the back of his hand. “Pushing downwards, I felt my feet touch the bottom of what had become a shallow river. Don’t ask me how. And sure enough, as I looked around I could see the river bank not far away.” He went to take another mouthful of beer but his glass was empty. He grunted as someone took the glass from his hand to have it refilled at the bar. “I strode through the water till I reached the boat,” he pursued, “and heaved it out of the water. As I did so it shrank to the size a toy. I hunted all over, but I could find no signs of either the drowned or the survivors, much to my relief…”

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