Thursday, 8 August 2013

Alone again, or

Here goes. I find myself having to draft this entry on a notepad, using a pen and everything, because there’s been a power cut. The mains cable from mainland had been severed, allegedly, by a cruise ship during the wee small hours. Gail is away down in Aberdeen hospital for a minor op. That leaves stupid having to fend for himself. I’m also on bus duty for the next fortnight.
A bit of Gail's Loganair plane. (The back bit, I think.)

Yesterday I drove Gail to the airport and saw her off. In stark contrast to the weather we’d had earlier in the week, it was a wonderful, bright, clear morning. Indeed there didn’t seem to be anything the least bit portentous about it. That evening, I picked up the Sanday bus, came home and settled down for an early night, as soon as the girlie football had finally finished.

Gail was kind enough to have set the alarm clock for me before she left. However, when I awoke I found that the display was blank. I got up straight away and wandered around the hoose in my pants, sorry for the disturbing mental picture, to look for a watch. It transpired that it was only five o’clock so I put some food down for Smokey before clambering back under the duvet with the condition that I wasn’t to take the watch off. I was fast asleep when the phone started ringing from about half past nine with folk looking to book seats on the bus. My passenger numbers doubled for the morning inbound journey and I was already (more than) fully booked for the way back. I’d managed my timing a bit fine so I started to panic when I went outside and saw that the weather had completely closed in. Gail and I have a system for assessing the thickness of fog based upon how many ‘telegraph’ poles we can see at the bottom of the garden. This morning it was more a case of “What flippin’ telegraph poles?!” Added to all the extra diversions that I hadn’t planned on having to make, things promised to be somewhat edgy.

I managed to arrive early at my first address. Those additional five minutes, collectively, is what Kelly refers to as “Burness Time”. Fortunately it turned out to be one of those rare mornings when everybody was waiting for me by the roadside. It’s not unheard of to have to go legging it up someone’s driveway to get them to get a hustle on. Sometimes they are still in their jammies. Today I arrived at Loth pretty much on time and I was further abetted by the boat being late.
The new 'tenants' in the stables. Cute and great rabbit killers.

My twelve lunchtime arrivals turned out to be fourteen, so laps needed to be sat upon. Not mine I hasten to add, but not that I’d have objected too vehemently. I dropped a large party off at a big house that overlooks Otterswick Bay, which is very pretty, but they had to take my word for it because we could barely make out the hoose itself and it sits right on the side of the road! They left with all their luggage and I sat on the driveway working out the cost of all the tickets I’d just run off. The numbers seemed to add up so I headed home. I had a few hours to burn before the next outing so I spent my time lavishing as much attention on Smokey as I could, checked up on the kittens in the stable, did a bit of house-keeping, etc, etc. Gail phoned to let me know that she was fine. It was a lovely sunny day in Aberdeen and she was drinking coffee and eating a tuna salad. All I can say is that it must have been baking hot in the ‘granite city’ for Gail to be eating a salad. It did remind me, however, that I hadn’t drunk or eaten anything all day and it was time I was off out again. I stopped on the way at the recycling bins to drop off some bottle and tins. A man’s work is never done. When I arrived at the pier, I was approached by a scout leader who I had met on Wednesday. He, another three leaders and eighteen cubs and scouts had arrived that day and needed transport as their own vehicle had not made the trip over with them. I had to make two trips, which is apparently against the rules, in order to get them to their camp which, as it transpired, was not in the same place that they had originally intended to set up camp. (Their host had been completely unaware of their impending arrival until two crates of bottled water were delivered to his establishment.) What with all the messing about, extra mileage and the uncertainty of whether they’d need single or return fares if they didn’t resolve their own transport issues, I explained that I needed some time to work out the fares so they could pay me the next time I saw them. Today was that day. While I was reeling off reams of tickets and relieving him of the necessary cash, he had time to give me the hard sell on becoming a scout leader. I tried to explain to him that kids aren’t exactly my kinda thing, having spent my entire adult life successfully avoiding becoming a parent, but to his credit he was persistent. He explained that neither colour, creed nor sexual orientation were any longer barriers to joining the scout movement. Apparently however, atheism is still a taboo too far. We discussed ways to avoid the subject on application but they all relied on me denying my faith. My faith being that faith is a crock of poo. I assumed that we were at an impasse, but only time will tell if I have managed to avoid the thing altogether. In timely fashion, the ferry arrived and he had to rush off to meet a man about a minibus. Vast numbers of foot passengers emerged from the ship and I found myself with another full compliment. No laps this time, though, but it was nearly an hour before I had set them all down and managed to get myself home, by which time it was gone seven o’clock.

The power was still out at the North end. One of my neighbours phoned to let me know that her gas stove was available if I needed to use it. I thanked her but explained that I had got it into my head that I was going to set up the camping stove and do a big fry-up. If she was to hear an explosion though, I asked that she bring over a bucket of water over to put the fire out. First though, I was positively dying for a cup of tea, so the first thing on the burner was the kettle. Half an hour later, it still wasn’t boiling. Dinner was getting later and later. Good things come to those that wait and soon the pan was on and I left it to get started on the veggie sausages and tatties while I enjoyed my first ‘Tetley’ moment of the day. Bliss. The eggs went in about eight, I did mention it was somewhat pedestrian, and I was soon serving the ensemble on a couple of mouldy crusts of bread with the green bits picked out while sitting in front of the TV, a big TV with a big blank screen, to the accompanying sound of absolutely nothing at all. All alone and in the dark. 

After such a glorious repast, I thought about going to bed, but concluded that it was probably not a good idea on a full stomach. Instead I went out for a stroll along the beach. The sea was very noisy in the stillness and so I had assumed by the cacophony that the tide was in. When I reached the top of the dunes though, I couldn’t see the sea at all through the fog. I headed straight out across the sand until I reached the water’s edge. I turned around and the dunes had disappeared. This really was thick stuff so I felt that I was in good company. I headed Westward toward Newark, a narrow vista emerging before me, the one behind me being consumed. I have no idea what cataracts are like (yet), but I imagined that the effect might be somewhat akin. I walked until I found an expanse of ‘tangles’ blocking further progress so I turned around and headed back. I had to follow my own footsteps back but somehow still managed to miss my exit. Consequently, I went on until I could make my way up through the gap opposite the old Sellibister school house, some quarter of a mile further, to reach the relative security of the road. I needed a torch now to find my way in the gloom. It was eerily still. Occasionally I would shine the torch across the fields and find eyes, illuminated, staring back at me, though it was impossible to make out the creature to whom they belonged.  

At the shed, I needed to light some candles as there was still no power. I clicked my heels together and said “There’s no place like home” three times but apparently this was as good as it gets for me.