"London is a metropolis of open pustules, running sores that blight the fair city's visage. A foul stench permates the surrounding areas, a disgusting wetness. How grand it would be to walk down the course of the evil Fleet river and not be waylayed by the rotten fluid ." (letter to the Royal Geographical Society- reproduced in In Perambulations along the watercourses of Our Great Metropolis, by CF Talgutt )
The rivers of London were mostly covered over in the space of 17 years by one man, Charles Foster ('CF') Talgutt, who hated running water ever since a rabies scare he experienced in India. Talgutt was a Victorian rennaisance man - A muscular Christian who liked the ladies, martial arts and visionary writings, who wrote bad potery and did mediocre watercolours. writer, poet, fighter and musician. He sailed a boat through Clissold Park, boxed Jem Mace, the Swaffham Gypsy, was a friend of Dickens, had affairs with actresses. One of his most strongly held views was that a man should not ejaculate during intercourse. Connected to his phobia about running water, perhaps. He did have a theory - that the semen went to a large storage container in the afterlife, which would come in handy when you eventually pegged it as all the other old duffers would be pretty much spermless by then. All those of afterlife ladies.
Talgutt died in 1926, aged 101, shortly before publication of his childrens story entitled The Adventures of Snuggly the Blanket Bear.