Coral grew up in Laleham-on-Thames and would swim all summer in the river with her sisters and friends. They were told not to swim to the far bank but sometimes did – for a dare. There is a small island you can reach when the lock is closed or, dangerously, via a wide weir. Here, they formed a secret club and swore an oath sealed in a dab of blood on a piece of paper, which is buried under one of the many trees. The summers seemed free and endless, having so much fun. Not so much though; the stomach aches, sickness and diarrhoea were always there.
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