I make mistakes. I write quickly, trying not to engage too much brain. And as a result some of my facts go awry. It was Mill Street, he said, after reading it, not Mill Road. Mill Road is in Cambridge. And, after seeing the credits up on Radio 4 Extra’s screen I realised that it was Laurence Sterne with an e not without who wrote Tristram Shandy. It doesn’t really matter, not in the whole scheme of things. Not really. But I like the details and I don’t want to be thought stupid, by him or anyone. It worries me that, to be considered ignorant. You’ll know this, he says before reading out a crossword clue from the ‘Big One’ on a Saturday night. And then I panic, what if I don’t what will he think of me? It’s only me, he says. I shouldn’t say it. And it is only him. And it doesn’t matter. Not really.
Rich dreams again, chockfull of symbolism. I can only remember midway, there is rarely a neat introduction. We were going for a coffee and found ourselves having to go down a tunnel to find the café. I lost him along the way, the tunnel was narrow and dark. Down and down I went following a line of people. Will it be any good when we get there? I want to be in the light, I thought. And following a man ahead of me, I made a U-turn out of the tunnel. Then I was in a village I knew well. it looks different, I told myself as I walked along its High Street. I went into a newsagent and met an old man and then another. Then I was in the car with them. One was driving, the other was in the front seat next to him. I was in the back watching the road through the windscreen. It was dark. The driver was driving erratically, was he even on the right side of the road? I thought. The other passenger, equally as old as the driver was talking to him calmly, gently as if to temper him. We flew along, the road stretching before us, the headlights of the other cars spilling into our vehicle. I didn’t feel in danger. There was plenty of room on the road for his uncertainty and haphazardness. I woke to the warm sound of the passenger’s voice placating with small talk.
A mild morning. Coming down the hill by Alexandra Hall there was a police car. Four policemen were inside and the front passenger door was open. The bobby in the passenger seat had his foot out of the door on the ground. Was he getting in or getting out? They had parked at an angle, blocking the turning circle. A girl, tall with long, bare legs was smoking and sitting on the wall behind them, just staring. Was she involved in this scene? She looked petulant, cross, insolent even. Then further down the Prom, just outside the Pier Pressure night club there was a body. It was a young lad, dark haired all wrapped up in a blanket and lying on the pavement. The blue lights of the Coastguard car were flashing and there were several men in high vis jackets standing around him. Was he dead? Had he overdosed? Had they pulled him from the water? His hair looked wet. It felt surreal, chaotic. Why wasn’t there an ambulance? Was it a training exercise? Kids were still coming out of the club, seemingly unconcerned
The tides have been high, there was sand and pebbles sprayed across the road.
I am changing. It hurts sometimes, like growing pains. But it is needful, necessary. Letting go of old patterns is a challenge, mostly for the space they leave. The gap. The gap of uncertainty, of unfamiliarity. Keep going. Be brave. Hold steady.