Saturday, May 14, 2011

Those Final Fifteen Mintues

It seems that as far as writing goes I am a little constipated! There is stuff in the brain ready to be disgorged but there is a bung up in the system. There is a box of (unused) Senokot in the medicine box for the physical kind, but nothing that aids the written kind!

May Day has, in the early days, always been about May poles, May Queens and pageantry. I am sure there are lots of pagan rituals embedded in there if you go back far enough, but our village was ignorant of them. It was just a day off school and a chance to poke around the Manor House gardens once a year.

More recently, May Day has been our sailing weekend. My boss used to hire a sailing boat on the West Coast, cobble together a crew of friends and associates willing to help fund the adventure, meet together for a few nights to practice knot tying and assign chores and then head off into the sunset leaving the port behind. Sometimes, because of calm seas we didn’t actually do much sailing and merely bobbed about keeping out eyes peeled for evidence of a breeze somewhere else on the water. We recited the phonetic alphabet in case of emergencies. (That skill comes in handy for quiz nights, incidentally).

This year, May Day found us back on the water. Not on a sailing boat this time but a ferry. It was the last of my birthday treats – a proper day out, preferably not taking the car (but we did) exploring some of the places we had not yet been. Someone said Mallaig and we found ourselves on the “Road to the Isles”.

We had two hours on Rum. It’s not a very big island but when one walks as slow as we do, size doesn’t always matter. At one end of the bay is the ferry terminal and at the other end of the bay is the village and somewhere in the middle, closer to the village than the ferry port is Kinloch Castle. It has been restored some five or six years ago and there was a tour laid on. Our slow walk meant that we wouldn’t have had time for our picnic lunch if we went on the tour. We decided to eat our lunch at just take slow walks around the place. The village hall was set up to serve teas and coffees.

The trouble started about halfway back to the ferry port. About half way back round to the ferry port, I discovered I hadn’t got my jacket. It had been looped over my bag, thrown over my shoulder. It could have fallen anywhere.

The voice in my head did a quick inventory of things in the pocket. The car keys were not in the pocket, or the keys to the hotel. My school keys, usually cocooned in a nest of tissues, were definitely not there as I had deliberately left them at home. That left just the tissues – I could live without them. But could I live without the jacket? My mother, on our recent visit, liked the jacket and harped on about how she would like a jacket just like it. She was put out, perhaps, when I didn’t magnanimously hand it over. I felt that I had battled to hold on to the jacket, that to leave it abandoned somewhere on Rum was not an option. The voice in my head said, “Leave the jacket – buy a new one!” Instead I left Joe to make his way back to the ferry port and I headed back to the village hall.

There must be a rule somewhere – the distance between one place and another expands according to the time required to travelit! The ferry port seemed a lot further away and from the village end of the island I could see the approaching ferry.

Jacket retrieved, I headed back to the ferry port. I ran, I hopped, I skipped, I slowed down for a bit, I walked quickly, I trotted for a while, I stopped to let the heart beat slow and I sweated. I heard the ferry signal as the car ramp lowered. I had just passed the castle and I was…not going to make it.

The inner voice chastised me for retrieving the jacket and for believing that I had had enough time to do so.

Salvation came in the form of a car. Up went the thumb as I flagged it down. She stopped and I explained that…well, I didn’t explain anything. The red face, the sweat, the heavy breathing said it all. She invited me to climb in and drove me to the ferry port.

Joe was rounding the final corner so I asked the kind lady to drop me off next to him. I wasn’t in a fit state to hold a conversation so we walked the last hundred yards in silence.
He told me later of his plans to hold up the ferry until I arrived. We sat quietly in the cafeteria reading books and papers while the sun set on Rum.

My quiet time reading yesterday was…

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? (Matthew 6:25)

I was reminded of Rum, and the jacket, and how different my last fifteen minutes there could have been.

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