Photo of snowy Sussex woodland trail Photo of snowy Sussex woodland trail

Still Waters Run Deep

It’s been another week of dashing about in the Land Rover, giving talks about How to Read Water. Henley, Saffron Walden, Southampton…

A big, big thanks to everyone who has come. Great audiences and always interesting questions. Some talks I can predict a few of the questions at the end, but How to Read Water always throws up a couple of unexpected and sometimes challenging questions. These are often based on an individual’s observations, “We often see…

I love these questions, although they are sometimes tricky to answer without the scene in front of me, because they feel like a compliment. They remind me that those who read my books and come to my talks are not just armchair folk, they like to get out there, to see and sample the world.

One question popped up on consecutive nights, which is rare.

Is there any truth to the old line, ‘Still waters run deep?’

Apparently it dates back to the first century AD, when the historian Quintus Curtius Rufus wrote a biography of Alexander the Great. “Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi.” – “The deepest rivers flow with the least sound.”

There is some truth in this, as water only makes a sound when it mixes with air. Think fountains, waterfalls, babbling brooks; if we can hear water it is always white water. And this mixing is much more likely in shallow water running quickly over rocks.

There must have been many occasions when a party splits, one group attempting to cross the river where the surface of the water appears calmer – stiller – another where there is turbulence, with the latter group faring better.

Of course it has become metaphorical, used to describe a person who is, to use another metaphor, a bit of a swan in temperament: all calm on the surface, but more of a Nutribullet beneath.

More talks to come, this is always the page with the latest info.