'They put a gun to the back of my head. I heard them cock it. It jammed'
It may look like a sewage works on a choppy day but in the glorious jargon of London 2012 this is an "early legacy".
In the 1970s, idealistic young activists created a wave of experimental schools - no compulsory lessons, no timetables, no rules. So what happened to the kids who attended these free-for-alls?
Up close it looks like a normal, if rather high-powered, literary event. We're in the hall of the British Library. Mark Lawson is holding aloft a new book and chatting breezily to the thirtysomething celebrity author sitting alongside him.
Only when his jab connects with my left cheek do I start to understand boxing.
In a pretentious moment, one might call Hardy a writer of terroir. Far From the Madding Crowd, while lacking the tragic grandeur of Tess, Jude or The Woodlanders, is the first novel to refer to Wessex by name.
That there were once 300 of these quasi-socialist experiments in public leisure, and that there remain fewer than a hundred, reveals much about how our municipal culture has changed.
Shortly after his birth, the German media reported that an animal rights campaigner was calling for him to be put down rather than brought up by humans. It prompted a huge groundswell of sympathy for the bear, which never went away.
Throughout this memoir, Egeland presents himself as one of the more assertive elements in the UN, who likes to "speak truth to power".
It is hard to list all the adversaries that the American long-distance swimmer Lynne Cox has overcome. In the past 30 years, this real-life mermaid has battled sharks, icebergs, the KGB and the FBI, eight-foot waves, ten-knot currents and impenetrable fog.