r e m o v a l s

990501.2345 the gugh

a different room . unambiguously a study . twin-pedestal desk , floor-to-ceiling books , pictures of boats , quills , paint-brushes , a red and white striped model lighthouse , friendly clutter .

my boxes jiggled across behind johann’s tractor this morning , myself following close by bike . i was rather reminded of the music hall song which begins < my old man said follow the van > , though the absence of a cock linnet did spoil the effect . there was a real sense of passage as we crossed the sand bar , waves nibbling on either side , and achieved the islet from which i now write .

my goods deposited we returned to tamarisk farm and spent a pressed hour making the place ready for the arrival of the year’s first proper guests . it was heartbreaking to leave , but bearing in mind i was originally expecting to be there only until the end of february i must consider myself a lucky sod .

this weekend the islands are hosting the gig world championships . i may have explained before , but a gig is conventionally a wooden boat of around fifteen feet rowed by six men each of whom takes one oar . historically they have played an important role in the islands’ life , and still each island fields at least one boat and crew for weekly races during the summer . agnes’ representative is the shah , a splendid vessel built in the 1870s and painted bright blue .

in recent years the sport has been gaining popularity elsewhere , and the championships now attract more than sixty boats from britain , the netherlands , germany and the states . the opening event was on friday evening , with all the crews lining up off agnes and racing to st mary’s . the sea was smooth and a fog hung across the islands . it was beautiful and mysterious to see the flotilla of gigs and spectator boats weaving across the water in the flat light , shadowy islands discernable on all sides . the whole thing is delightfully unpretentious . everyone just gets on with what they’ve come here to do .

i watched a couple more races today , then came back across to gugh to start unpacking . the rising tide was almost across the bar by the time i realised i needed to stock up on groceries . i made the shop and got what i sought , but my feet got a wetting on the return as i leapt from stone to stone amidst the rising water . somehow this seemed an appropriate baptism .

: cH

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