the wave that has passed by, be recalled

Monday, 10 September 2012

"Are you coming in, Ethel or what?"
"Doubt it, think I'll just dither about on the step attention-seeking and threatening to faint until you all lose patience and pelt me with whelks."

Over the summer, we spent a happy annual week with family in Wales near a tiny seaside town, where the nearest neighbours are sheep farmers with tough, freckled, big-hearted lads about Freddie's age, who are initiating all the cousins in the dark art of jetty jumping.

The trick is to time the jumping for when the tide is out and the leap is stomach-droppingly high.  Later on, the tide comes in and the ancient bell below the pier tolls sonorously, announcing time for the small fry and tourist kids in new wetsuits.  The coolest kids jump in ancient board shorts, flipping, diving, pretending to fall.  Rose and her cousin Annabel have been jumping with the local toughs for a few years now; Freddie has always point-blank refused.  Even the high-tide soft-kids-from-London jumps were met with his bare feet planted firmly against the wooden pier edge.

Each day, he would announce over breakfast that he was going in this time, get kitted up, come down to the jetty and greet everyone, and then decide he didn't want to jump after all.  He'd then spend an hour being preached at, hassled, counselled and cheered on by the lads, sister, cousins, assorted aunts and uncles, locals and total strangers.  He would get thumbs-up in the evening queueing for hot chocolate 'hey, Freddie, did you go in? Never mind, bet you jump tomorrow.' Each evening, he'd listen to the girls' tall tales, see their matted-sea-hair, runny noses and huge grins, and swear blind that, next day, he'd jump.

Edward and I hung about cajoling, bribing, getting the camera out, putting it away again, spending fortunes on flotation devices, goggles and hot chocolate. By the end of the week, neither of us could handle the pathos of the towel-wrapped figure shivering and peering white-faced over the edge for another second, and decided to pursue land-based activities that would leave us all less traumatised.

On the second-last day, a cousin came to relieve me of lifeguard duty so I could take Freddie to the honey ice-cream factory for pride-salving cones.  She raised an eyebrow, I shook my head, we sighed and I turned to gather the towels, shoes and resolutely dry boy.  A huge cheer went up, followed by a splash and more cheering and clapping.  Freddie had jumped in and I had bloody well missed it.  He appeared a minute or two later covered in saltwater, snot and triumph.

'Come on then,' he said, grabbing his towel and marching off down the pier.

'Is that it?  Don't you want to hang out with the lads? Can I get a video of you jumping?'

'Nope.  I told you I didn't want to because I wouldn't like it, I did it and it was just as horrible as I thought. So now can we go and get honey ice-cream and can everyone stop going on about it.  I won't be doing it again, I knew I'd hate it and I did.'

I'm not going to labour the point here, but 1. I'm back and 2. some of you might just end up taking me for honey ice-cream.  You know who you are.


  1. Lovely to see you're back. I'll save you some home-grown honey ice cream. There's nothing quite like it. And good for Freddie, snot and all. Quite a triumph indeed.

  2. Thank you Kathy! Home-grown honey? Yes please, I take my pleasures where I can these days!

  3. Journey...Journey...Journey...Journey...Journey

  4. Well I'd love to take you for ice cream. Freddie is on my hero list. He handled the whole thing quite well, didn't he? I love his "been there, done that, had ice cream" attitude. By the by, missed you.

  5. That sounds like quite a journey.

  6. Freddie sounds like a very sound young man. Welcome back!


  7. Freddie had a character-building summer journey - I can relate to it!

    (ADG made me do it!!!!)

  8. ADG git...git...git...git

    James, I'd like that too, though it will not surprise you to learn I I am an atrocious snob about ice cream. Not as much as I missed you.

    Lee, how lovely to meet you. Did ADG put you up to this by any chance. He's so wildly bloody funny.

    ML, blimey it's been a while. Yep, stubborn as hell. Must get that from his father. Lovely to see you!

  9. Welcome back!


  10. Silk, delighted to meet you and such a great shame that so early in our acquaintanceship am I forced to put you on the naughty step with ADG and Lee. And no talking about trousers with bees sewn on or belts with pictures of whales or other clothes we British stop wearing after the age of eight.

  11. Meg!! Hurrah, so happy to see you and thanks for coming over. x

  12. Oh my word, you have returned! My life is whole again.

    Even my mother has been asking periodically where you are!

  13. It has been such an arduous JOURNEY getting to your blog.

    Thanks to ADG I have found you again !!! So glad to have you back.

  14. Trish you old darling! Are you still farting about on stage? Must get over for a cuppa, my love to your mam!

    Beren, that's quite a large naughty step I have already. But it is lovely to see you again too.

  15. I'm not as trad as the rest of these guys probably are but still proud to be part of the blogging community that feels it doesn't get enough attention from meatspace admirers and resorts to posting self-portraits of clothing exploits for strangers on the Internet.

    Do wish you had RSS turned on. I do all my internet-consuming through Google Reader.

  16. I am new. I look forward to the jouney.

  17. Hello. How wonderful! So glad you are back. And congratulations to Freddie as well.

  18. Maven. On the step. Twenty minutes will do, but after that being new is no excuse. Bienvenu(e?)

    Lisa, how very very lovely to meet like this again. I have a lot of catching up to do. Xxx to you

    Lee, what on earth is that? I will try and adjust settings for your reading pleasure because 1. I am very well mannered 2. You are a newbie so I have to be nice 3. Your comment made me laugh in an unseemly fashion.

  19. Lovely to see you back. Well done to Freddie - sounds like he is growing up.

  20. My first sojourn to your journal. After a little soup de Jour, I am feeling, well, slightly journish, you might even say, um... journey. Thanks for this.

    Wentworth Tradd
    Mannabush Hall

  21. It's amazing, contrary to what many people believe, nagging combined with peer pressure really can produce positive results. N'est-ce pas?

    Don't let this interfere with your day job, but do keep us entertained as often as you can.

    Love to you, cherie,

  22. Freddie's got what it takes. Even if he thought he'd hate it, he gave it a try, thereby silencing any critics, sealing bragging rights and gaining a bit of self-knowledge. Sounds like a perfectly successful summer holiday. Your gift for the narrative journey has been missed. Wonderful to see you back! HTJ

  23. This is sublime ain't it. All this journey talk and everything. What's your favorite Journey song?

    And for what might I owe that nice Lady Tish Jett a merci? Somebody. Talk to me.

  24. I'm not going to use the word "journey," even though ADG told us to!
    Loved your short story on A Femme, and this is icing.

  25. BTW I will follow you but please any chance you might put the RSS widget on your site, as Google is the devil to my way of thinking:).

  26. Journey journey journey journey journey. Just so you know we are ALL ganging up:).

  27. So you've finished your self-finding journey... Congratulations and welcome back!!!

  28. Visited the Maxminimus blog tonight. Couldn't believe it when he told all of us that you were back. Hallelujah. Been too long without you.

    Happy to join you for the journey.

  29. I have read you before but tuned in again due to ADG's recent recommendation. However I'd like you to overlook that shortcoming although I loved his listing of earlier quotes of yours.

    I was in London just about a year ago and my reading has suffered from much about clothing/Britain since.

    Portland, Oregon

  30. Hooray for Freddie...and journey on!

  31. Fopling and Tweed you old darlings, how've you been?

    jrandyv, how lovely to meet you and I think you Americans care much much more about clothing than we don. Vive la difference!

    All three anonymous, thank you and don't think I haven't noticed...

    Gail and Yoga, lovely to see you, and you're both on a Dean's Warning for the J word.

    Beloved Tish, thank you for yanking me out of the cave by my knotted head and giving me a very public haircut.

    LPC, I would love to but I need someone to tell me how to do it. Also, I always had you pegged as more gracious lady than playground band-waggoner. Hmmmm.

    ADG, you are beyond words. And help.

    Mason, see me after school.

  32. Nice to find you during my wandering journey around the 'net. I would say I missed you, but this was my first encounter.

    Looking forward to more.

    Journey Journey Journey (there, that should be enough)

    Anon - one of those weekly commuters you love to travel with.

  33. Am soooo proud of you. Honey ice-cream Thursday? x

  34. Deeelightful! Welcome back, and I look forward to what is to come. Thanks, Reggie

  35. Lovely to have to back!
    SCBA, K'port

  36. So lovely to read you again!


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