I have not ventured outdoors while this winter tempest keeps up its vengeful pressure. I have stayed within the thick walls of the cottage and watched the battle raging; the fireworks of thunderous anger from a brooding sky and the roar of supping waves, churning dark and dirty in a sea that would take no prisoners.
The fishing boats are tied tight in the harbour. They bob about like a child’s playthings in murky bathwater. I can just about see them from the upstairs window.
I think about getting a dog. A creature such as that would give me an excuse for a routine. I would acquire the invisibility of normality again. Because it’s normal isn’t it for a man to walk his dog along a beach, throwing driftwood into the water’s edge for the animal to retrieve. It would come lolloping back to me, with its stick in its mouth. It would drop it at my feet; look at me expectantly for its reward, the little savoury treats that it knows are in my jacket pocket. It would shake the seawater from its coat, a whirling dervish spraying salty droplets. And I would laugh and jump back. Then I would throw the stick again, this time further into the water just for the pleasure of watching my dog swim out with happy confidence.
A dog would fill some of the empty corners of this cottage, small though it is. A living room entered straight off from the street, a scullery kitchen and the bathroom tagged on behind. Stairs lead up to the bedroom, squeezed under the eaves. They creak on every tread. I have set up a little table by the window next to the front door. From here, I have a view that stretches beyond the strip of scabby garden, across the cobbled road to the stony beach. It reaches out to the sea. I can lose hours every day, staring at the tides rolling in and out and in and out.
This is no Mediterranean; it is not even a West Coast sea like you find on the outer edges of the Highlands. The water there laps onto secluded coves with golden sandy beaches and jagged rocks hued with purples, teals, yellows and greens of lichen and age. No, this sea, the one that I have chosen to be my companion in my new rest of my life, this sea is a melancholy thing. With northern moods and cold easterly winds that have come from far off Scandinavia and even Russia, bringing in rain and hail with their icy caresses.
Perhaps I am being unfair. I