And so it has been that I have spent many evenings and the occasional morning this summer wrapping my loins in my faded green swim shorts, my hairy upper body in a red tee shirt and my shapely yet curiously be-nailed feet in an old pair of blue Cotton Traders beach shoes, before embarking on my customary ten mile ride along the timeless coastal path. There was almost a reference to a Spirit LP there. Ten points to you if you got it. Never mind if you didn’t. I don’t think Randy’s with us any longer. There’s a two and a half mile point at the next town where I chain up the bike to some railings and divert to the pebbly beach, there to toss my tee shirt upon the flints and then myself into the waves for twenty minutes or so. Though it has often been so calm that the waves just haven’t been there. I prefer it if there’s a touch of choppiness to the water, or even a deep and commanding swell, as it’s quite fun to do dolphin dives into the advancing waves, surfacing in the following trough and watching the mackerel and bass chasing the little blits and making them flip up into the air. Then it’s the dripping wet seven and a half miles round to the farm lane and back home to a warm and refreshing shower, followed by a plate of humus, anchovies, tomatoes and a warm oil sprinkled flatbread.
That’s been a lot of my summer this year, apart from days when grandchildren have been staying, when I’ve tried to achieve variations on the above, sometimes more successfully than others.
But this is all a diversion, a digression to fill some space. Back in the spring, cycling past the salty low lying fields this side of the rail embankment, I often noticed a whiff of decay rising from the hedgerows, like the final exhalation of last autumn’s vegetation as it succumbed to the inevitable. We have a couple of customers who come to my shop who smell quite similar, but that’s because they’re dirty bastards who don’t wash, rather than being poignant reminders of nature’s eternal cycle of death and rebirth.
Then over the last few weeks there’s been a smell which I eagerly await every year. There is a low lying stretch of about a quarter mile which for maybe a month or so every year becomes heavily suffused with a perfume combining honeysuckle, lavender and gently sweating women. Just love that length of pathway, it feels terminal, like I’d be happy to be buried there. After I’ve died and been cremated, obviously. Though I have already expressed a wish to have my ashes thrown off the bridge into the river just as the tide turns and flows seaward. Perhaps they’ll have to divide me into piles to comply with all the different places that I’ll have decided I want to be scattered to by then. You know what I mean? I definitely want Kitty Kallen to be playing as I turn to ashes and dense cloying smoke, that’s for sure. Little things do indeed mean a lot.
I’ve been watching some pretty good fillums lately. Campanella’s original of Secret in their Eyes, El secreto de sus ojos, is well worth your while watching. Soledad Villamil and Ricardo Darin make it wonderful. It’s from Argentina so the English subtitles are vital to me. Then there are a couple of Nina Hoss movies, Phoenix, Yella and Barbara. That’s three, but I use the word ‘couple’ in the non-biblical sense. They’re good. And Er ist Wieder Da, which is adapted from a book by Timur Vermes. Read the book, watch the film, they’re both good. Though you do need a grasp of basic German to find your way to the English subtitles, I promise you will find it worthwhile. Unless you don’t find the idea of Adolph H. awakening, dazed, smelling of petrol and with a splitting headache in a carpark in 2014 Berlin to be full of promise. I did and it was worth the trip. Comedy gold with a cold bitter streak inside which should bring you up with a start. Funny how an association with one man can make some names go right out of fashion for years on end, isn’t it?
No Mediterranean summer holiday to bore you with this year as my daughter and second in command has not been at all well enough for me to get away and leave my shop in her stern and unyielding hands, but I’m hoping to hit Barcelona for a couple of days in Sweptember to celebrate entering the last year of my sixth decade. I am keeping my fingers well and truly crossed in hope and anticipation and a wallet full of Euros in my bedside cabinet.
And then I had a dental check this week. Aisleen peered, prodded and fondled my teeth, all the while reeling off the secret code words describing my dental health to her smiling assistant. She looked deep into my mouth, so deep that I thought and almost hoped that she would absent-mindedly penetrate my face with her tongue and lick the inside of my cheek. But decency and her innate fastidiousness prevailed and I didn’t get lucky. I didn’t need any treatment though. So all good.
I hope life is treating you well and all around you are appreciating you for the treasures that you are.