The wind is just turning to chill now, but it’s been a beautiful day. I’m sitting here looking towards St Helier from St Aubin across the sweep of the bay at full moon high water. The table is wet from the wind bringing last night’s tide into the street, but this evening it’s calm.
The bells of The Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church just rang for 8pm and surprised me that it was so late already. The day is still bright, and people are playing on the water. A jetski buzzes around in the distance, and a waterskier. A young woman punts past with a friend on one of those paddle boards. To my left, four men in black with sunglasses talk animatedly in a language I can’t place. At first I thought it was Russian, but now it feels closer to Arabic. Scattered with English. Staccato bursts, tongue very far back in the throat. They’re drinking Peroni out of a Morrisons bag, and eating crisps, far too involved in the conversation that flows so fast between them to notice the flotilla of yachts coming home for the evening behind them.
“It’s like Norway, but flatter,” shouts the young man on my right. He’s having a conversation into his mobile that has mostly involved telling somebody what they should have done. Sound carries well enough for me to think he’s a bit of a prat.
To the right across the bay I can see the single chimney of “old smokey” – the power station for the island that used to drop us into darkness every few weeks when I was growing up. They almost had to fire it up the other day when the French were making noises about cutting off the cable because of Brexit. That’s not resolved yet, but this evening I can’t see any flotillas of angry French fishermen in the bay. Just these happy people cruising around, and I find myself envying the jetskier as he comes round right in front of me cutting his way back home to land.
It’s not crowded here as it might be in a normal year. I like that, which is just as well considering I’ve just extended my stay by a week. But the jetskier is right to head home. It’s just getting too cold now, with the sun falling behind the trees and the gulls crying home for the evening.
This is the weather I remember from childhood. Clear skies and sunshine with a light breeze. More of the same please, even if I haven’t got a garden to run around in anymore.
I went for a walk in the lanes with a friend and we looked at an exhibition about the occupation here. That’s a part of the history of this place that rises again and again – a scar on the island that gives character. Of all the stories I read the one that stuck in memory just was that of Fritz, who lost his family in the bombing of Berlin, and sat on a barrel of gunpowder with a grenade in his mouth.