m a i n l a n d

990724.0839 heliport , st mary’s

i’m sitting on the ground behind the terminal with the morning sun on my face . once again i am heading for london as the islands brace themselves for a week of perfect weather . the locals seem to find this amusing . ha ha ha .

i’m just about back to full strength now after my yukky malaise . over the last couple of days it has been tremendous to feel my energy flooding back and i’ve got a lot of work done . yesterday i wrote an article to go in next month’s edition of scilly up-to-date , the islands’ most widely-read publication . i cycled down and pushed it through the publiisher’s letterbox late last night . i’m inevitably a little nervous . this is the moment at which my head rises fully above the parapet . let’s hope nothing too hard gets thrown at it .

990725.1913 great western train

what fun this is . as if it were not enough to spend the afternoon sealed in a metal pipe whilst the sun shone outside , one of the locomotives packed up in cornwall and after half an hour sitting in plymouth we were told to get out of the train and get onto another one . we’re running an hour late .

if my memory serves me it was a year ago today that kirmo , tony , adis and i drove from london to penzance and boarded the scillonian ( rather stressed and with about ninety seconds to spare before she slipped her moorings ) . tom joined us a couple of days later , delayed by work on his sleeve design for luke’s virgin virgin album .

our week at tamarisk farm became ten days , then twelve , then ten again as the next set of guests dithered about when they’d be arriving . the idea of spending 1999 setting up some kind of community project in the islands was conceived during that period . we had a great time . i remember late nights playing ladbroke-grove-rules blackjack round the table , tracking down gaz and turning up at his and button’s cabin ( with the team ) having not seen him for ten years , catching mullet off horse point with johann in the elvira , playing my debut with gaz’s band in the town hall at twenty-four hours’ notice , swimming in my trousers at bar point and having to cycle in them back to hugh town , walking round wingletang down with kirmo in the pouring rain , resorting to hammers with home-cooked crabs . it was the first time i’d been in the islands since easter 1993 . by the time i left i was fairly certain i’d be back for a longer stay .

i saw tony and adis last month in london . i got a mail yesterday from tom in singapore , just sorting out a boat ticket and malaria pills for sumatra . another mail arrived from kirmo , confirming that he’s sorted out his travel arrangements and will be in the islands for the eclipse .

i flew over to the mainland early yesterday morning and headed straight up to the post office in penzance to extend my passport for another two years ( the passport agency’s expensive new computer has collapsed and some post offices have been authorised to stamp new life into expiring passports ) . the clerk asked if the photo looked anything like me . i put on a puzzled expression and pointed out that this was scarcely the point with a passport photo ( mine was taken when i was studying my a-levels for pete’s sake ) . he laughed and stamped it . watch out world .

then henry hawkins , probably my longest-standing friend , came and collected me and we went off to porthcurno , where we scrambled down a vertiginous cliff track ( by mistake ) and went swimming on a nudist beach ( by mistake ) . it was fantastic anyway . later on we went for a sail in his father’s shrimper down at restronguet . we had plaice for supper , drank too much whisky and got all maudlin . i haven’t seen much of henry in the last few years as he’s been working with oily people in denmark and peru . we were at truro school together and then at cambridge . we share an interest in criticising one another’s photographs , vigorously disliking one another’s favourite films and feeling inadequate in a messed-up world .

: cH

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