Today was all about my passengers. I was a yo-yo. First up I had a scientist. I fished for my brother’s name but she didn’t bite. She’s a marine biologist. “Most of my body is seawater,” she tells me. I tell her of my amateur discoveries in the lagoon, and she reminds me hard of Max by responding familiarly to my description of the odd creature I describe with the Latin name, as if she was saying “uncle Charlie”.
I am utterly familiar with the taxonomy of the creatures we knew as children. I learnt the Latin through Max. It was inevitable. It was part of how the world worked. I understood very early how Linnaeus had given us such a clear way of delineating the differences between all the many many types of life. I thought everyone had such a grounding.
I remember being angry and outnumbered at school: “Everybody, quick! Come see! It’s a Tatagonia Viridissima! Look!” Everybody including teacher insisted I was talking nonsense and it was a Great Green Grasshopper and I was wrong. I remember thinking I could have just not let them see the wonder. It’s funny how indignant rage is one of the memories that carries throughthe years.
Lucy talks to me about evolution in seahorses. There’s a living salt lagoon where some Bahamian seahorses have been cut off from the flow. Their life cycle is long – maybe 7 years – so it’s going to be generational to see the evolutionary changes. But they’ll become apparent – just not at the speed that your average university lab technician weirdo breeds their fruit flies with big heads.
We talk about plastic in the sea. We all have understood that plastic in sea is bad. I ask her about it, as she’s evidently a marine biologist. I’m an amateur scientist so I ask a deliberately hard question: “Surely there must be large amounts of sunken stable plastic that has provided a habitat? How can marine plastic be removed with an eye to only taking out the ones that are shedding microplastics? She is, of course, brilliant and well versed and passionate. She agrees that the situation is misrepresented, and that the bulk of the work has to be before point of entry. She’s been changing the law at the UN. She’s been part of a team making a treaty.
It’s always about usage. Care. We have to take care.
Then I had Lorenza, who lives near here. “Mussolini made my town – Carbonia. It is named for the coal mines he made.” This low down utilitarian town used to be a mining town. The skeletons of his derricks still frame the sky. His mine is a museum.
Finally, Craig. We are talking about islands. Sardinia. Jersey. The Isle of Man. I bring up São Miguel. “There’s a rally over there, as well as the Isle of Man,” I inform my passenger. “Yes, I know. It’s a good rally. In fact I’ve won it. … … twice.”
Dad would be glad I’ve ended up with a touch in his happy world. I’m not racing, but I’m plugged in. I tried to get him to plug me in to his world when I was a teenager, but he couldn’t see past my perceived academic failings. I’ve found my own way to reconcile that shit. And I’m having a lovely time while I’m at it…