I was filled with desire to see forever. True, the Norfolk sky is not the most claustrophobic prospect on earth, but I was mad for a view even less restricted. That means the sea.
So we went to Pakefield. After all, we’re allowed to now. Pakefield is on the Suffolk coast, and it’s like Southwold and Aldeburgh before they became suburbs of Chelsea.
Cindy, Eddie and I found a place high on the beach, where the shingle plants were still in bloom, and opened our drinks. A beer for me; it was half-past six, after all.
We gazed at the brownish sea of East Anglia, with its choppy waves; about half a mile out, there was a froth of white there the sandbank lies. Ordinary enough. Sensational enough.
It was at the same time the most comforting confirmation that life was going on in the same old way, despite our prolonged absence, and the most shattering revelation of new possibilities. It felt like a journey to the edge of the world. You can’t take the same things for granted.
You could leap into the brown waves and swim all the way to Amsterdam. You could count the container-ships lying at anchor. You could observe the English people doing what English people do at the English seaside: fishing alone, eating fish and chips in company, hiding behind windbreaks, walking with or without dogs, one brave lad actually swimming…
Or you could raise your bins and look for seabirds. Throw your soul out to sea and let it dwell among the waves. Looking at gulls, looking for gannets, wondering if anything unusual would be revealed by the lift and drop of a distant wave.
There’s always something. Two kittiwakes flew by – real open-ocean gulls, unlike the birds we call seagulls and mean shoregulls. An adult and a yearling, easily picked out by their shape and size and the way their wing-tips seemed dipped in ink, not a trace of white on the black.
Once breeding is done they will throw their own souls and their bodies with them, out into the deep ocean, where they live the majority of their salty lives. I raised my chill bottle to them and drank life.