I am extremely grateful to the former owners of The Trout in Wolvercote who were kind enough to show me round their private quarters one sunny autumn morning in 2006. Their pub and their home are set in one of the most magical places in Oxford and form the backdrop to this novel.
I should also like to thank the staff and pupils at The Dragon School in Oxford who agreed to work with me in the autumn term of 2006 in spite of their busy curriculum. It was an enormous pleasure to see them sculling on the river, to watch the careful skills they were being taught, and to listen to their voices as they became a proper working team.
The icing on my cake during those particular field-research trips took place one Saturday morning when I was allowed out on the river in one of the Dragon’s sculls, and saw the extraordinary perspective of river, sky and Oxford skyline. It is a vision that is quite unique. It held me in its grip during the entire time of writing, giving me the confidence to know I had got the details right.
I should also like to praise the virtues of The Dragon School. Sculling is a specific and potentially dangerous sport. It needs teachers who never take their eyes off their students. Who give of their own time during summer evenings and weekends to encourage the potential sportsmen of the future. Without such teachers and schools, we have no future as sportsmen and women on the national or international stage.
So stay safe, take good care – and here’s to the river and all who work with her.