Saturday, December 27

Not Turquoise But Blue Will Do

IT WAS MY suggestion that we go for a walk, but the weather was bad and my parents did not feel like moving much; after all, both of them had prepared our Boxing Day breakfast, a tradition in the family that we all looked forward to. I told them—‘Well, I will go for a walk anyway.’ I wanted to be out there, go for a long walk, listen to music, and those walks, along the same old routes, reminded me of years gone by, and, oh! I am drowning in memories lately. It was bitter out there, the wind. My father and I watched the football and then we left. It was only he, my mother and I.
They tiptoed. At breakfast I had been cheery, that was until they brought up something I did not wish to discuss—‘It’s too early to talk about that. I’m eating my fuckin breakfast.’ They left it but I could not find my cheer again. If I thought about what they had said – or, more accurately, what they had asked me – I descended, and I only wanted to be happy. But with that cold air on my chest, it was not long until I was feeling quite alive and good with myself.
There was no one else around; I was so far from London.
Scenery is grey. The clouds obscured the sun so that we believed there was no such thing but we walked on in the quiet seaside town and many houses glowing in Boxing Day hue. My jacket was done up, all the buttons. It was very cold. We walked across cold, wet grass. I thought to myself–‘Cold, wet grass.’ I walked funny so as not to get my trainers wet. A mother and a grandmother were out with their children and grandchildren who were riding shiny new bikes, equipped with shiny new helmets and shouting back at their mother and grandmother. Down by the sea, at its edge, were some more people: walking dogs, walking, fishing. All along the coast were fishermen like commas, their rods tipped in the air and quivering in time with the tides. My father kept pausing to look at things—‘Will you hurry up!’ I said—‘This is going to take forever if you keep fuckin looking at things. “O, what’s this? . . . O, what’s this?” Just walk!’ We all laughed. I did impersonations of him, pretending to look at various things along our walk. He then proceeded to look at various things. We all laughed.
The summer café was closed. It was all boarded up to protect it from the waves. Fishermen checked their lines, reeled in the weights and recast them. I was not sure if I could see hints of blue behind the cloud.
We walked on and on. The soles of my trainers were so thin that I could feel every pebble. Puddles glimmered in the wind. I smiled at the dogs that passed by our heels. On we walked until a team of builders were putting up sea defences – yellow diggers were there and rocks and rocks. I was happy and my body was cold.
‘I’d love it if the sea was blue,’ my mother said—‘Not turquoise or anything tropical – I’m not asking for the world – but just blue.’
On the way back the wind came from a different angle and froze the left side of my head. I was so happy; walking along, looking around, the grey sea, the season, my parents at my side and no-one else. We had left the house at gone-three so that within the hour – the time the walk would take – the sun would have set and gone. The light was vanishing. As we made our way back I could see the rectangles all a-glow – reminders of the warm interior that awaited us. A good Boxing Day walk; walking from to nowhere but walking as a verb we are quoting from the dictionary. By the time we return the darkness is all around. The weather turns and it begins to rain. I put on a pot of coffee and we pick a film to watch.

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