By the beach at Lancing, The Perch is still selling breakfast butties to people in the outside world. Very welcome they were too in this godawful freezing cold. We had to sit in the car to eat them because of the wind. But the fact they existed at all in this environment is a blessing. The sunshine hasn’t stuck around and the wind is up. We walked around and looked at things as I got progressively colder and colder.
Arundel Cathedral was open and empty. I lit a candle for the world, and another for my mother – likely still in purgatory somewhere if I judge things by her belief structure. Every candle helps if she is. I lit another candle for the world. Mother earth. And all the creeping things like us. We need all the help we can get. A candle, technically, is not helping. But it’s the thought that counts.
Oh it’s very nice in Arundel isn’t it darling, just so awfully pleasant. Empty streets and terribly expensive houses, and isn’t that an attractive priory and gracious me such a big castle and well of course we’ll have to have a cathedral to make it a proper city darling. It seems as if every shop is a shop that sells antiques. “I’ve got something like that,” I was saying, or “How the hell can they justify a price tag of £420 for that Edward VII silver gravy boat!”
They’re all shut, of course. Everything is shut. We peered in through the windows like dusty Victorian children. Maybe we shouldn’t have been in Arundel at all, but we were. And It helped. I’ve been going slowly insane on my own in the cold and dark. We all have. I chose to break out and to prioritise my mental health. Going for walks helps stop the crazy spiral.
We found a quiet beach at Climping. A sandy beach covered in ruined breakwaters and abandoned works and rocks with strange graffiti. By now the sun was falling, and the wind – constant all day – was cutting to our bones. Determined to remain outside for as long as possible we picked our way through the boulders and abandoned structures, banking a kind of joyful hypothermia for later. But for it wind it would’ve been glorious.
Now back at Lou’s, here I lie on sheepskin directly in front of a radiator refusing to go more than three foot away from the heat, the heat, the heat. I’m going to have a hot bath, a hot curry and a warm bed. A holiday in the sun would really hit the spot right now, but it’s just not possible. I wish it were. The world is so much less wonderful when it’s less possible. And all these short sighted blocks on travel from the UK that are triggering nothing because nothing is happening right now – they’re going to make everything much much worse when this is all over.
We are climbing back towards the warmth and the light though. There’s a way to go.
Our boots were covered in mud, and I was frozen right to my marrow despite activity, cashmere and walking. I’d much sooner have been walking in Greece…