missing in action
Seeing the twin chimneys fall was reminiscent of disasters.
The day after the 2 Brews and I thought a cycle and swim would be the best way to fill the day. Mary was off at her conference so I cycled solo to Aberlady. On the way I called past Cockenzie. I was sad they blew down the chimneys, and sad to have missed the demolition - having been side tracked by the 2 Brews the day before. It was impressive the way the demolition company had made the chimneys fall in on each other; and most of the debris was contained within the perimeter of the plant. More like an assassination than a funeral though and I didn't care much for the crowds applauding and cheering - a respectful and sombre silence would have seemed more appropriate while contemplating Margaret Thatcher and her demolition of the coal industry perhaps. The power station was first fired up (1967) 5 years after I was born so I have out lived it at both ends. And the horizon - from Edinburgh and Aberlady - hasn't been improved with it's removal. Maybe in Longniddry they would say it has. When I saw the videos of the chimneys falling I felt a swoon of sadness and a that's that then finality. And was glad I wasn't surrounded by stupid people cheering.
Quick stop at Aberlady for refreshments - mochachino to lift spirits and give me the va-va-voom to get into the water. I crossed the bridge (bars and bags grazing the narrows) and initially headed up the usual trail to the subs end of the beach. However there was too much sand (what, on a beach, you're kidding?!) so took the trail back to the junction where it climbs across the golf course towards Gullane Point. Perfect.
I had asked the question where would be the ideal venue for a solo swim and couldn't think of anywhere I'd rather be than in that bay along from the Point where you can hang your clothes and towel on a rock and you are cradled between the arms of the small promontories either side. As I approached I was disappointed to see a canoodling couple just the other side of the ocks (but still too close for privacy) and a dude in a skull skulling out from the shore. He was gone in seconds, hardly time for a photo, but they canoodled for the entire time I was there. Perhaps I should have done more acting-like-a-mental; spitting and loud tourettes or stripping off in full view instead of behaving in a discreet and quiet manner. Might have got the place to myself. However it was very splendid - soft warm weather and a quiet cool sea. Ideal really. Just ignore the kissing noises. I got changed and hung my damp cycling gear to dry on the bike. Only thing missing (apart from Mary) was Mary's waterproof camera. So no underwater photos. I know, you are heartbroken not to see 15 indistinct dark smudges that might be a crab or a fish out of focus and an idiot in a mask and snorkle. Too bad because there'll be plenty more next week (I have seen the future and it is watery.)
you can stand on this rock and dry the sand off your feet
It was a beautiful afternoon / evening and because I had no camera I chose to focus on the swimming and dared myself to swim a bit further out than normal. I had ALL the gear on. Flippers and mask and snorkle. I have noticed during the last couple of swims that the seam between the legs of my wetsuit has a small hole developing and that this is the first point of ingress when I wade out into the water. I should glue it before it gets worse. But I only ever remember this as I wade waist deep and get a small but chilling reminder. I am not sure if the visibility gained by wearing the mask is a good or bad thing. I really like seeing all the wildlife underwater but the gloomy depths sheering off into the dark edges of fantasy and imagination produce a lurking fear-of-the-unknown I struggle with. While I KNOW logically there are no sharks and sea monsters likely to give me grief they still lurk just beyond the point of my vision. We are all in the same aquarium after all. I decided to get in touch with that fear.
I swam out about as far as normal - maybe a hundred yards; it is difficult to measure distance from such a low angle. The sandy sea bed was about 12~18' deep below me and I could see it clearly. Again it is difficult to judge depths until you put a foot beneath you and see there is 2 or 3 times that depth, below to the bottom. The sea weed and darkening depths were freaking me out slightly giving me a kind of vertigo so I came back in closer to the shore. Then I found a channel of sand all the way out beyond the headlands either side and swam out into the Forth proper about as far out as I have ever been. I could hardly see the couple who were now standing on the shore (probably wondering if the frogman had drowned himself yet?) The sea bed seemed not to get any deeper as I strayed out further still, but stayed about the same 15~20 feet below and the massive dome of the sky above was amazing and I felt at one with the world and finally breaking through the fear barrier, becoming a part of the scenery, not on the other side of the camera or the barrier between me and the HOLY FUCK A SEAL! And a seal puts his giant ferocious head above the water BETWEEN ME AND THE BEACH and looks directly at me. Head about the size of a grizzly bear. And then it ducks under the water IN MY DIRECTION at the speed of a torpedo. MOTHEROFGOD I am dead. It has seen my blue flippers and heard me breathing through my snorkle and now it's going to sex me through my wetsuit blow hole JESUS CHRIST I am being chased down by a grizzly torpedo and I lose any kind of grip and panic wildly and thrash shore-wards probably the fastest 100m swum that Sunday evening in the whole of the UK until my snorkle is too thin to sustain the amount of air I require and I yank it out my mouth and splutter and puff into knee deep water and pulling off the flippers, walk sullenly up the beach. Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.