I cannot swim. When I was growing up in wartime the beaches had barbed wire on them and the swimming pools were either empty or storing water to be used for fire-fighting, and by the time all that was over I was too effete to want to immerse myself in cold water which either smelled of chlorine or was salty, had waves in it and consisted of diluted sewage.
But my strong distaste for aquatics generally goes back much earlier, to the pre-war year when I suffered this traumatic experience:
We lived in London so this was probably my first experience of the sea. Clearly, I didn't like it much, but what established my hatred of it forever was the uncaring attitude of my two older sisters to my obvious distress. Later I forgave them, but the damage was done.
Nowadays, of course, I no longer have a feeling of deprivation or envy as others splash about joyfully; I don’t mind watching them for a while as I sit in the shade on some palm-fringed beach with a tinkling glass in my hand, so long as there is no question of getting wet.