Swim 2 - Oct 8th 2015   2015


I was going to run in the morning, but I had to sort out my mobile contract, and then the sky was loaded down and grey and I had to drop in to see Matt Myers on the way to the studio, to get the steel ordered for the screen, which is called Tol. 

Matt gave me two presents - a tecmet pen with a rubbery bit around where the nib pops out for using on touch-screen phones instead of a finger (really? wouldn’t it have to be warm?) and a tube of chrome polish for my motorbike forks. Matt always come and has a walk around my bike. He’s got 4 bikes himself under clean sheets by the door of his unit in Trewellard. All vintage. All needing serious work. 

Anyway - I rode back in full sun and collected the children from school - airfix and bugclub - and then I still had to wait for Andy to come home before I could run. We went up on the scaffolding in the sun and looked out at longships. (The scaffolding is to repair the solar panels). It’s a long way up the ladder, and I put their cycling helmets on them but they were alright. 

Andy said 6.15 but the cows that walk up the road toward the Gurnards held him back so I ate a slice of their pizza and ran out at 6.30 when he arrived, sun setting.

I ran fast fast - in my barefoot shoes. Down to the mill, up the narrow track between two walls, always here the soil is noticeably deep. Humument. (Generally I intone silently in the manner of a scratched mono record ‘Garlic and sapphires in the mud…’) Then I double back a bit below the YHA to pick up the higher coast path. Brown scuffly leaves have fallen deep on the elegant upward curve of the left hand bend swinging back out to the valley - only a memory of bluebells on that corner now. 

I run fast fast down the long straight path, with it’s even drop to the tip of the cliff with the low sun lighting up the brown coppery bracken on the flanks of the valley. I reach the end of the track which abruptly faces the wide sea. I don’t pause; I run in a-rythmic hops onto the rocks down beside the mine and over the slippery rocks - it’s just below mid tide. The rocks are slippery with wet and with seaweed. A smoothly round, wet granite boulder is hard to run on. There is no shoe that can grip like bare feet. I am still trying to run, or at least move swiftly, so I leave my shoes on. 

Then I am by the round pool, full of water already, so rather than a pool it’s connected to the wide sea. I am scrambling up the rocks that block the blue lagoon from the western beach which people call Nanven. Now I am glad of my shoes on the barnacles. These large sections of stone are a beautiful spice colour - a warm golden brown. On the top of a large rocky section I pull my clothes off, balancing them on my shoes, into which I have stuffed my socks, then I slide into my swimsuit - the cheap one from the supermarket in Morlaix. It’s a size too small really, or maybe it’s not - just it’s cut higher in the leg than I like it to be, especially as I don’t shave or wax or anything like that. The only thing I don’t remove is the headband I use to run in. I think the band around my head will be somehow comforting. 

There is a big swell. The sun sinking fast into a low cloud bank just skimming the sea. Then I let myself down into the water off the western edge of the rock, using my hands behind me to steady myself as I slide forwards feet first. If you do this all fast then the cold water doesn’t matter at all. It’s almost comfortable, though it also makes me gasp - it’s not painful, just a sort of shock and transferring from one material to another. I keep my feet high anticipating rocks, but it’s easy. I look to my right and sea the waves rolling up into the cot beach - from the side, and suddenly I am laughing out loud - just like the first time. I can’t help it - I’m absolutely delighted.  

The sea is a definite blue, it’s sucking and whirling and tipping me about. Not rough but exciting. Then a large set comes and blocks my view of the sun, which is teetering on the edge of the rock-fence that separates my swimming place from the open sea. A wave mounts the rock-fence and comes at me and then, as it must do, it slaps off the rock I cambered down and runs back to meet me in the middle as another wave rushes over. My view of the sun is blocked and I feel nervous. Only a little nervous. I look towards the place I left my shoes and hope that the wave can’t reach them.  

But I let myself be tossed around by the sea in this hollow of rock and then I clamber out using my hands, keeping my feet high as before. I peel off the swim suit, and put my t-shirt back on first. I run back up the beach. I don’t even stop to take a stretching slow look around - like a scan. I think I should have, but instead I just rather register than the sun has truly set and then turn my back to the sea and set off back up the beach. Half way to the cliff I regret my hasty flight from the sunset so I pause and look back. It’s impossible to keep moving on the beach and yet know your line - because you must pay very close attention to your feet. This is true even on dry rocks. 

I looked back and saw two youngish people and a dog trying to descend to my swim-point from the headland - which is impossible. I watch them for a while as they hesitate and deliberate. Then I ascend. It’s steep and I am gasping by the time I gain the straight path up the flack of the valley again. At the end of the path I take the way between the houses and over the bridge then up the narrow steep way up the rocky track. This is my standard way. I think I walk a part of this. Now I am thinking about my work - probably Tol. Or do I think here about a person. I think I do, but I don’t recall the detail. Back across the football pitch, stumbling over the low wall in the corner where there isn’t meant to be a path and people burn bedsteads. Shower and mushroom curry.