“Hello, is everything alright?”
I have stopped in St Clement to plan my next move. The sun is blazing. The engine is not running and I’m sitting in the car with the door open for a breeze. I’m in one of about five empty bays in view of the beach. There are no other parked cars. She is taking the bins out at 1pm and she’s asking her question with an emphasis that signals very clearly that nothing is alright and it’s definitely my fault.
“Yes thank you, it’s a lovely day,” I respond, with a big innocent smile that she deflects. “…because this is a private car park,” she continues, as if her emphasis on the first statement hadn’t made that perfectly clear already.
“Oh Goodness, I’m sorry, does somebody need to come in?” I ask, pantomime looking around and we all know it’s not sincere but this is Jersey. We are all terribly nice here and we all hate each other for existing.
“No. Not at the moment,” she concedes, also looking around. She leaves a “…” hanging in the air between us.
“Well I’m sorry for being in your space,” I concede without a hint of genuine apology and a little touch on the last two words. She accepts my text and not my subtext. I drive off to Bouley Bay feeling a little guilty for engaging in that game of being passive aggressive. After a while the rules of a place start to affect you.
Now I’m sitting on a rock above the Bouley Bay, and I’m covered in ants. Maybe they are my penance for playing Jersey intolerance bingo.
This formic rock projects out into the bay, and after a bit of clambering you can get to a little shady patch with trees. The beach below is full of sunbathers but nobody else has climbed up here, and but for the ants it’s the perfect place to be. I’m moving though. They keep going down the back of my shorts.
Now I’m sitting where you’d tell me not to, if you were here. “It’s perfectly safe,” I would reply to you, and it is. Comfortable and safe with an eye down the sheer rock face to the azure water below, and it’s beautiful. The constant sound of the waves and the calling of the gulls. Gorgeous.
Yeah so I’ve got shorts now. Fifteen quid from M&S. I haven’t got sun lotion, water or a towel though, or my lunch. My planning was interrupted by the Jersey parking woman and I went off half cocked as usual.
The guy I was trying to meet this morning in St Clement has had an attack of the gout, likely after a very busy bank holiday on the excellent quality French wines and Jersey steaks that are on display wherever you look around here. He cancelled and forgot to tell me. It forced me to slightly rearrange my day and essentially to give up on the admin and instead to go sit on this shady rock full of ants.
I’m quietly wondering if there’s a safe spot to leap into the sea, which again I can do because you aren’t here to tell me not to. I probably won’t, unless the ants mount a reinvigorated assault, but not for fear of a broken head – because I haven’t got a towel.
Now I’m here I’m going to enjoy it unless the owner of this rock suddenly shows up and asks me if everything’s alright. Or the ants actually manage to get up the place they seem to be so drawn to…