Things are surprisingly unboaty in boatland right now. After he was forced to abandon the engine, Richard took a bit of a strange turn. In the fortnight leading up to his departure to the North Sea he (for the first time since we clapped eyes on the thing) wasn’t that fussed about the boat. Of a weekend we went for walks, made kites, saw people, behaved entirely as normal slightly odd people do. We hardly plotted, he bought very few thingamies (an enormous shower tray being the notable exception) and the month of birthdays continued with a Eurovision party for one, drinks for another and a gorgeous dinner at a poncey restaurant for mine, accompanied by smutty misbehaviour befitting the giggling gaggle of assembled friends.
The Friday of my birthday Rich got the call, and we were both dismayed when he was asked to prepare to leave the day after, for which we had planned all sorts of fun. Fortunately he did not have to leave early as we’d feared and was even able to accompany me and a wonderful cohort of chums for drinks in the pub that evening followed by a walk up to Maker Heights where Land of the Giants were playing. He was taken back to the marina at 1am after drunken goodbyes, and from there he got a taxi all the way to Bristol to get him on a plane to Aberdeen via Amsterdam. I stayed on, dancing til he music stopped and stumbling back to Gwen at 5am after several hours drinking brandy and listening to Tom Waits in a friend’s caravan, taking photos of the sunrise with my phone on the way.
Since then, I’ve missed him. He writes and tells me it’s harder this time, and I feel the same. I wonder if that’s because we already know how hard it goes on to be in those last days while we wait for him to return. For him the novelty of this job has worn off a little, so he only has emails from me and his projects (he’s made a swallow kite already, the clever thing) to fill his mind, and he gets tired and headachy from his first week at sea anyway. For me at least I think it’s because I’ve enjoyed him so much of late. There’s a synchronicity to us these days that means his absence has put me in a strange frame of mind. A sad, lazy, hermity one – I don’t want to be with people for too long, because they’re not the right person. I’m currently accessing the emotional vent for this crap by crying at movies I’ve seen before.
I’m going to work on Serenity tomorrow, all being good. There’s not a lot I can do to Gwen – I could sand some stuff in the kitchen, but I’d make a godawful mess and probably not tidy it up. I need to do something in the two or three weeks before he returns to prove to myself that I am of any use at all! Getting us closer to having a fun, functioning sailing dinghy for camping trips is, I believe, within my capability.
I was at a gorgeous little private festival yesterday, sort of by surprise – I went for breakfast with friends and ended up there with a mate, Jack, who was playing. Despite rain and cold which glistened everything up and chilled my soaked bottom, we had a wonderful dancey day and night among green leafy countryside, bunting strewn stages and charming musicians. A lovely old tea chest bass player told me that he had had lots of friends with boat dreams who went no further than the scillies before turning back, if they even got that far. He wasn’t optimistic for Gwen’s chances.
Nobody else dares to put this terrible (but entirely justified – you need only look around this marina to see how boat projects can go static) possibility to me. My family seem to zone out when I tell them about Gwen – nod, say “I see”, change the subject. I think they doubt my ability to stick with it (I am faddy, I may have mentioned before), but Rich thinks they are playing the ostrich to what danger we may put ourselves into. Friends round here say “yeah, you’re doing a boat, it’s brilliant!”, because the way everyone works round here is to say “yeah” to something whether they’re actually going to do it or not. Man, is that frustrating sometimes (I probably do it too, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating in others). Others are kind, enthusiastic and intrigued, or tell me they couldn’t do it because of this, that or the other. How lovely to have met this brilliant man, who I must now prove wrong. Mr tea chest bass player has been promised an email from somewhere abroad, which will serve to prove to us both that some measure of this crazy dream has been achieved.
I’m sorry, this isn’t about boats at all, really. Another film needs to go on. As you were.