Mist is rising from the beach like smoke from a battlefield. It means that despite the desert starkness of this vast strip of white there is moisture in the air, and a cool. The tide will be full in three hours, rushing in. The oyster catchers and the surfers shout in excitement at the swells rolling in from the Atlantic on this calm hot evening. I’m lying on a blanket that I last used to carry a dead pheasant. This time it’s going to be my towel, as no matter what else I do today, I’m going in. But right now I’m plucking up the courage, bathed only in this fog.
The lifeguard has moved as close as he can to the sea because of the fog. Apart from visibility, conditions are good. The swell is not high and the tide is rising. I’m mostly just concerned about the cold. I can swim in this. It’s glorious. No more writing. I’m going in. Just got to hope I put this blanket far enough up the beach that I’ll have a phone to come back to.
Just on instinct, after I wrote that sentence, I picked everything up and stumped a further twenty paces up the beach with it all. “Surely the sea won’t get this far,” I said to myself, making a pile. Shoes, blanket and hat containing car key and mobile phone on top of the blanket.
This perfect evening, and I walked into the breakers and wondered how the hell it took me so long. Huge lines of water slamming into me as I whooped and laughed, immediately warm from the buffeting, wishing I had a board of some sort. Getting out far enough to catch them on the break, rolling in them, jumping with them, trying to stand against them as they winded me. I don’t know how long I was in but I pulled myself back bewildered to see a very different beach and where the hell is my pile? Just on the edge of the tide. Just at the point of the highest wave. The original place was already under a foot of water as I went with the tide to reclaim my phone and the keys to my car and just as I put my hand on the hat containing them a wave rushed past me, scattering my shoes and shifting the blanket. I see the flash of all the parallel universes where my phone and keys are lost in the surf at St Ouen, giving me a very different potential last evening in Jersey. But no, I was just in time. No disaster, just a wet blanket.
Here I sit, barefoot and barechested, sundrying with good adrenaline pumping through my system and a smile on my face as the water pushes right up to the wall. There’s a lot to be said for this “being alive” lark. I’m going to wander, salty and damp, down to El Tico, and have my last evening meal on the island accompanied by the sound of the surf, looking out west to the setting sun over the Atlantic.