u p c o u n t r y

990424.1323 penzance , cornwall

at a table in a little diesel train beneath the arched roof of brunel’s terminal station , the very end of the great western railway . oh . the train stalls . a toddler across the aisle expresses his fear that we’re going to blow up . pre-millennial tension ?

the engine fires up again , a whistle blows , punctual departure .

as we trundle out into the sunshine the tops of sails are visible over the wall which separates the line from mount’s bay . perfect conditions . how i wish …

with every month i find it harder to leave the islands . this morning , as the little plane ascended and the familiar landscapes slid away beneath me , i found myself quite emotional . we flew over the scillonian ( the steamer linking the islands and penzance ) , coming into the eastern isles on a glittering azure sea . it’s a beautiful day .

excitement on thursday evening . gaz phoned to ask if i felt like coming to supper on st mary’s , to which i replied that i’d love to but there were no more boats . so he persuaded his friend phil , a diver , to nip over in his rib ( rigid inflatable boat ) to pick me up . after a quick pint in the turk’s head we sped back . the journey took less than ten minutes , skimming and bouncing over the swell . most exhilarating .

on my way back to agnes yesterday morning i saw a couple of gigs being winched off the scillonian in preparation for the world championship next weekend . which reminds me , i didn’t hear how shah , the agnes gig , fared in yesterday evening’s inter-island race . murray and aidan hicks were teaching me billiards in the island games room while their brother ross was rowing his heart out . billiards is an elegant game . a shame it’s been eclipsed by snooker . aidan , who is about ten , thrashed me soundly .

we’re just leaving camborne . it looks as if something’s on today . from the train i could see the silver band and festive-looking crowds . the driver’s got something relaying through the intercom now . can’t really imagine that happening on an english commmuter line .

: cH

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