Saturday, November 14, 2009
Being called away
Today it is blowing a gale, the sea is high - so high it could be meeting me on the balcony, except I'm not out there.
25 years ago almost to the day John Stonehouse did a co-incidental 'Reggie Perrin', leaving his clothes on his balcony and walking into the sea - he wouldn't do that here right now - his clothes would be in Dover joining a ferry bound for France within minutes.
It is impossible not to watch people when they come into your orbit. And it is equally difficult not to get the jitters when you are watching someone do something a bit risky. The desire to intervene is huge. The need to watch becomes more urgent.
The man was there a short while ago, standing precariously on the concrete groin opposite my window. Buffeted by the wind, his raincoat flapping madly, he was showered with spray from the waves that were bigger than him. I watched as he occasionally looked from side to side. From time to time - possibly in a rather pointless attempt to look normal standing where he was in that extreme weather - he swung his arms about his torso (as people prior to beginning Tai Chi sometimes do) and circled his head around his neck. Once or twice he glanced behind as though aware he was being watched, Rupert Sheldrake describes it in his book 'The Sense of Being Stared At'. I was watching, fully visible through my window, camera jammed to my eye (it acts like binoculars) like Harry Beech in Graham Swift's 'Out of this World' - until my phone rang and distracted me for five minutes.
Hopefully he is now safely indoors, lounging in front of the fire, feet up and relaxed, with not a thought in the world for the very odd person who was watching him enjoy, at close quarters, the wild sea.