More than the sweeping hills and clifftops, the coves and sandy beaches which stretch away endlessly, it is the boats that I have noticed since we have been here. In nearby Fremington Quay the track winds along next to an undulating pill, boats stranded in repose, a trickle of seawater carving its way through the sandbanks. Past a wreck lying on its side, rotten timbers jutting like ribs. Soon the trickle broadens and the sea comes into view, and a dredger, a long, rusty suction pipe resting along its length, ensign fluttering weakly in the breeze. Further along at Instow the smell of brine is stronger. Cranes circle the harbour and the masts of the brightly-coloured sailboats are gathered like cocktail sticks in sausages. Soft clinking blows in across the sand.
I feel a little like these beached boats, slightly ragged and waiting, lopsided, for the tide to come and lift them. Other people’s roles seem to be clearer than mine. Men are professional, or they are retired; not chasing round rooms with shark arms or preparing for the 3pm Family splash session.
It is a new world of etiquettes. What is the correct way to listen and respond to details of other people’s professional lives in this world? I am currently pitched at the level of an uncle who was in business himself many years ago. Au fait enough with the world of commerce to prompt a couple of interested questions. But I am quickly slipping towards the territory of a great aunt who responds with a “Well that’s all very nice deary. Would you like a cup of tea?” The old world is becoming hazier and hazier. And since noone understands what I am doing they don’t ask about me it. Which is a shame, since it is now that I would like a bit of interest. Still, I prefer this world – it is gentler and less populated and suits my rhthyms and cadences.