Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Suicide Squad

For the first time, in what seems ages , the sun woke me up.
Cornwall has been going through a kind of monsoon period coupled with a soupy, gloopy fog.
I tried to get back to sleep as it was only six o'clock but the cat was sitting on my chest with his 'I want a wee' look.

It is the first day of half term, I was hoping for a long lie-in but once up, the sea was calling. I jumped in the car and drove two miles to my favourite spot. It is un-named, but sits between Hells Mouth and Dead Man's Cove, both good suicide spots - Cornwall is full of cheery places.
I have an irrational fear of heights but the cliffs are one place where I can perch without my knees going jellylike. I found a great nook and settled down with my notebook.
Almost on cue the gulls came. I hate them. That is, I hate them when they are in town. They nick food from your hand and despite the warnings holiday makers still persist in encouraging the bastards.
I watched them in their own enviroment and they are indeed beautiful, graceful, soaring on the updrafts and wheeling high overhead. As a flock they took up positions just below me, wedging their pasty-stuffed bodies onto the most impossible ledges. All I could hear for about ten minutes was the sound of the surf crashing on the rocks below and the odd low squawk.
It was almost as if they were waiting for something, and they were.

I don't know what the signal was, but they knew. One by one they left the cliff and dived two hundred feet straight down to the sea. Beaks vertical, wings back they hurtled downwards until at the last minute they pulled off a turn that took them out over the heaving waters.

It was like a test, a seagull competition, a battle of nerve and seagull skill. Some of the younger ones, greyer in colour, pulled off before they got to the bottom and were railed by the older ones who laughed at their chickeness.
Half an hour later they moved off towards the closest town. Breakfast was calling and so was mine!


Unknown said...

I love the photo, makes me wish I lived by the sea (again). You brought back all kinds of memories in one photo and a story about seagulls. Cheers, got a big smile on my face now.

Unknown said...

Have you read Jonathan Livingstone Seagull? It's one of my favourites.

Maxine Clarke said...

You lucky thing! (from person who works at end of platform 1 of Kings Cross station in London).

What a wonderful photo and experience...

Esp. the breakfast ;-)

Unknown said...

Yes Minx, I have read Johnathan Livingstone, I think my Mum has my copy nowadays. I also rather enjoyed 'The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch'!

James Long said...

great photo! ah the sea.. the sea.

Unknown said...

Can you taste the salt in your hair?

I still hate seagulls though, give me a cormorant any day, now there's diving with style.
Last year I was lucky enough to see the basking sharks off The Lizard. They are incredible!
And V, I love The Lighthouse keeper, Mr Grinling is a man after my own heart, maybe I should have taken mustard sandwichs with me this morning!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

You are lucky - evocative post and pic.

Marie said...

That's such a beautiful pic - I'd love to live somewhere like that. London is not the place to be a writer (great for contacts such as agents, publishers, etc, but not for inspiration and the quiet time that I need to write!)