The wind batters at the windows and howls up the walls. Panes of glass shake as the rain tries to throw itself in. Despite the thickness of the walls, the whole building seems to sway, and in the darkness of the curtained room, I feel I am lying in the bowels of a ship. Enjoy the feeling.
Excitement dries my throat, as I fumble to pull back the curtain’s; a sea view, a picturesque village, I’m hoping. The curtains open to a car park and the light beyond some houses, a particular fading that could mark the end of land and the beginning of sea. The light that promises of salty depths. I watch two men in shorts stagger across the car park on sea legs through the winds and imagine what the sea is throwing up. The sea I have yet to see, ruffled and spiked in the September gale.
Breakfast is served amongst pottery owls, Merv’s dry distain for lack of baked beans is duly noted. I am desperate to see the sea, thoughts that it might be, just might be possible to get a swim in.
Wrapped up warm in one of my inappropriate coats, Merv smug and snug in his North Face padded jacket (made of material that deflects rain. Apparently.). Wind blows us sideways, teeth drying out at the as I smile into the distance. The Sea. She is throwing herself over harbour walls, reaching salty fingers to fishing boats that are still tucked up in their moorings. No one’s going out today. She’s all white horses and ferocious sounds, accompanied by the warning bells of the fragile boats exclaiming that they are staying where they are.
Sea spray slaps itself over barriers, arching over roads and landing in heavy, bouncing back off the pavements. I run into the wind to the place where the barrier has been worn away from years of abuse from the sea, and wait for her to rise up hit me with her waters. I can’t swim in her depths, she’d pull me out today, but I can still get wet. I hold onto a barrier as the wind pulls me on to my toes, salt stinging my face, the gulls sweep and swerve, bolstering up above the sea, just high enough as the sea tries to catch their claws.
Merv lights a cigarette crouched beneath a wall. Shakes his head as I am still laughing manically at the sea. I am not swimming today.
We drive to the venue to the narration of Bill Hicks, somewhat at odds with the rolling landscapes and cul-de-sac villages. It is a beautiful hall, high ceilings, wooden floors, a stage with velvet curtains.
The nerves find the way into my feet and I walk around, eager to tell the show, half afraid of implausible mistakes or the blanking of words. There’s a strange seating for me as a solo performer, both fear and comfort in the knowledge that it is only up to me.
As the audience fills up I am asked by a member of the audience if I did go swimming -forgetting I made this declaration public, online. I am told tales of yellow foam filling up the beaches and harbour in Aberdeen. The rain, at least has stopped for a while.
With over 50 people in the audience only five are men (not including Merv). No one has heard of Totnes and I take great pleasure in describing it on a blank canvas.
After the show a woman asks ‘How would you like to be remembered and do you feel you deserve to be?’