Jersey’s west coast faces open water all the way to America. The wind flogs the breakers into the beach at St Ouen, and whips the dry sand into flurries that sting your face. The buildings there are blasted squat stone bunkers and on a day like this the only people on the beach have wetsuits. It’s weather for surfing. It’s heavy weather. It’s not the most clement time for a walk but it’s wild.
We met for crab sandwich in an awning tacked onto the side of a bunker. Relying on the diligence of whoever hammered the spikes in, our knives and forks clink and we delicately squeeze the lemons while outside it’s blowing so hard it’s like a hammer. There are sand dunes across the road, huge and forever shifting, too fluid to build on, left for the wild and for the two of us. Full of crab and sober we let the wind blow us up to the top as if we are drunk. A panoramic view back down. I still have sand in my ears.
The gun emplacements left over from the occupation are full of sand now, a mockery of their purpose, built and maybe stationed for a while but never used. They are graffitied now by the hardier Jersey kids, with their desperate stamps of identity here in this very much not happening part of a quiet middle class island. “There’s so much horrible new money here now,” I hear, not for the first time. They’re letting all sorts in. Those gauche little Johnnies with their Lamborghinis and their big “fuck you”. The speed limit is forty miles an hour and the air is full of salt. Nobody needs to be screaming around in one of those things.
It’s had a history this island, small though it is. The Germans. The French. The Normans. It’s strategic. This is why, when we go to the surf shop, they’ve run out of hats. The French are fucking with the supply chain because of those fuckwits in parliament and the war over fishing rights. Hats aren’t the only thing you can’t get anymore. It’s really random stuff. I can’t remember offhand but it’s like a taramasalata and brazil nut shortage here. The good Waitrose customers are up in arms. They’re blocking the boats in and out still, it seems, or at least they’re showing their anger enough to worry any trader that hasn’t been entirely honest on the insurance documents.
Documents have been my bane today. I tried to apply for one number for a document, and I found myself needing three more and to get them who knows, maybe I’ll need even more. Once again my morale took a hit as I remembered a time five years ago when I dared to believe it would all be sorted quickly. One day I’ll be more specific, but I’m waiting for a breakthrough. It may never come. I’ll be like the inventor in The Wild Duck.
Good to see a friend here. It can be depressing, this uphill struggle, not aided in the least by the only person who might be able to help. At least on the sand dunes for a moment all the heaviness blew away. It’s gonna work out…