So apparently I am writing about the sea and my father. Maybe I should get some whiskey and a cigarette and talk about how people don’t understand my masculine white problems.
My father doesn’t have an unusual look for a man of his age, trim grey beard, thinning brown hair and glasses. A shirt with a jumper over the top, for warmth. Yet I’ve only ever seen one person that I’ve recognised him in. I suppose a big part of that is the history I share with him; having grown up and seen him almost every day. His smile is unique, drawn back and almost a forced rictus were it not for a genuine warmth behind it.
When I was fifteen, I had reason to be in an old people’s home, the sad sort, where people who can’t look after themselves and aren’t ready to die go to sit alone and wonder when they will find a visitor again. As I stood about this place, waiting for the man who accompanied me to be finished - I was on work experience, and had spent the week half watching the repair of phone lines with minimal interest - a frail, old man came around the corner, his eyes rheumy and distant behind thick lenses. He edged forwards, pushing a walking frame before him and looked up at me, if not creaking audibly, then certainly giving a certain impression of creak. Slowly he turned his gaze up to me and the thin lips behind his silver stubble peeled back, curling at the edges, warmth shining from behind the clouds in his eyes.
In that moment my heart stopped.
I had known that smile since moments after I was born, that was a face that had caused me a thousand emotions throughout my life, as we raged with one another, made secrets and broke them. But he couldn’t be here, and he couldn’t be that old. My father was in his mid fifties, not this close to eighty, or even ninety. More terrifying though, more of a punch to the gut, was how alone this man seemed. I remember smiling back and fearing that nobody had any interest in seeing this man, in knowing his story. It was a selfish fear, the fear of someone who didn’t want to be thought of as abandoning their own father. This whole, gut wrenching, moment must have been less than five seconds before I was called away to pass a tool bag or to watch how a certain wire was plugged in in a certain way, but I can’t escape it. I knew that my own father; with his four children and plentiful grandchildren was unlikely to find himself in the same situation, ever. But somehow I still felt I’d seen a future, and terrified I’d not be able to prevent it
One of the things that people from the city always said to me the first time they go out to sea is how quiet it is, especially compared to the beach. It take them a week or so to get accustomed to listening for any sound quieter than an engine, the creak of the hull, the roar of the wake and the crash of bow waves and the whipcrack of the wind in sails. The other thing that takes city folks away from the idea of the peaceful sea is a good storm.
I know, if I heard them now, the sounds of my ship cutting a swathe through the ocean would deafen me. Its been a week of nothing louder than the lap of calm water and that alien sound of my own chewing. The sun comes up every morning, dragging a slow, torturous procession across the sky; burning me awake and then baking me even under the tarpaulin of my tiny rowboat. Sunset is an unimaginable gift, the bloom of oranges and pinks across the sky bring me as close to a smile as I’ve been in what feels like infinity. In the cold blue nights I am rocked gently to sleep; fitful and shallow from lack of exertion. I’ll die soon, and that will be a relief from this pointless cycle.
I remember books and films about people cast adrift; thinking of the ways they survived, of wondrous and mysterious islands they came across, but the seas are a void and I am a deck of dust. I could drift for decades and never see a single thing.
On the eighteenth day, I fear I have lost my mind. I watch the cruel sun turning the white tips of the waves to lances of pure light that scald my retina, but something silver and flashing dances between them, growing closer to me. As it bobs closer to my home, I think of children on cruises and stories of sailors casting heartfelt messages into the sea; carried by currents to far away shores. I have a pen, I could add to this message, tell my story and live beyond my own thirsty death. I catch it, rapidly scooping it from the salty water that imprisons me and stare, unbelieving at the contents.
It isn’t a child’s holiday memory, nor an historical sailor’s missive, its the Golden Dancer, my long lost pride and joy, writ minute. She is proud and tall, gleaming oak and fresh paint, the way she was on the day I bought her. Before her mast cracked, before the bow split and I had to run for this tiny wooden cell and I began to delay my death. I thought I’d floated for miles in the past three weeks, but if she is here in my hands, I can’t have drifted that far from where she sunk. Perhaps I’ll be found, perhaps people are searching for me, have been searching for the last three weeks. Perhaps, perhaps. All I know is that this tiny, trapped boat is still impossibly afloat, an inexplicable sole survivor of the storm. She’s meant to keep dancing and I laugh as I throw her violently back into the water, watching her continue her voyage without me until I lose track of her and my history that she was carrying.
Watching Korra. Taking selfies. Feeling good about myself.
Yeah. I have an adorable sleep mask. Deal with it
Maybe this will be the time that nobody gets in a fight with an little person in a Wetherspoons, or pisses on the floor in a Yates’, or vomits on the floor of a half timbered pub, or takes out three tables of drinks in a trendy wine bar. Maybe it will be a good night. Some of them are married now. One of them has a kid.
Hello sweaty gym selfie. This was 10 miles into an 18 mile bike ride.
I love my place of work. Ugh
I am in the pub with my brother talking about depression, being in your mid 20s, how relationships and finding people you get on with is difficult. He is being super accommodating to my queer identity. It is hella weird being in that environment with a family member.
Ink on tile
currently on display at Tate Britain
Ok, ok hear me out here.
Natalie Dormer as Peter Pan
Olafur Eliasson: Turner Colour Experiments
The artist has responded to artworks by JMW Turner by conducting a colour analysis of each painting; then chemically recreating the precise tones found in the paintings, then mapping them over these unique circular canvasses.
From left to right, top to bottom:
- Colour experiment no. 58, 2014A Disaster at Sea
- Colour experiment no. 60, 2014; from Turner’s Fishermen at Sea
- Colour Experiment no. 61, 2014; from Turner’s Peace – Burial at Sea
- Colour Experiment no. 63, 2014; from Turner’s A Wreck with Fishing Boats
- Colour Experiment no. 59, 2014; from Turner’s Breakers on a Flat Beach
- Colour Experiment no. 62, 2014; from Turner’s Wreckers – Coast of Northumberland with a Steam-Boat Assisting a Ship off Shore
- Colour Experiment no. 57, 2014; from Turner’s The Burning of the House of Lords and Commons, 16th October, 1834
Remembering that when I lived in halls I made a WiFi network against the rules and to hide it called it “Free Public WiFi” then had to listen to people complain that they couldn’t connect to the Free Public WiFi because it had a password.