My sister sends me a video of my 7-yr-old nephew announcing “If you’re Uncle Andrew…” and then falling face-first onto the bed.
I fainted once at high school, circa 1986. There were mitigating factors, including a freshly-painted door and a gas heater left on overnight.
My sister’s version of this period of my life has been enhanced, embellished, and refined over the years, such that she will now regularly proclaim to any who will listen – primarily her children – that “Andrew was forever fainting at school.”
Now Christie has joined in. I feel persecuted.
I’m getting fat. I go for another run. I am beginning to tire of running. I mean, it’s tiring. But also I am tiring of oncoming runners gliding serenely and effortlessly past me.
While I am panting heavily up a slope (the slope is irrelevant), sweating hard, and sucking air in great ragged gasps, as though through a partially blocked straw.
I am tired of running.
In a determined attempt to not run anywhere, I go for another epic walk. I wander down through Restalrig and on to Portobello.
Then along the coastline in a northwesterly direction, and I find myself seduced by what looks like a sort of causeway running round the outside of the sea wall. It looks adventurous, so I meander along it. Before long it becomes apparent – mostly via my sense of smell – that I am skirting the outer perimeter of the Seafield Sewage Works.
The aroma is not overpowering… but it’s there. And it’s there for quite a long time. I finally reach the end of the causeway-thing without my gag reflex kicking in, and head back towards where I think the main road must be, as in all truth I have no idea where I am and even Google Maps is failing to locate me.
I emerge onto the main road just across from Seafield Crematorium and Cemetery. On the footpath outside the gates, a trio of mourners are standing having a smoke. I am suddenly and forcefully reminded of Coco – a hard-drinking, chain-smoking swing bowler, raconteur and an integral part of the fabric of Holy Cross Cricket Club, who passed away last week. His funeral is also today, at a crematorium on the other side of town. Six Crossers have been permitted to attend – in more normal circumstances there would have been a massive turnout.
The cricket season, like everything else, has been put on hold. Latest indications are that we might get to play some games in August. A memorial match for Coco is uppermost in everyone’s mind.
I deliver some nigh-on-unobtainable bicarbonate of soda (corner shop folks, the corner shop is always the answer) to my mum, and chat with her briefly, before heading up Broughton St and homewards through London Road Gardens, once again declining to put life and limb at risk by climbing a tree, but wanting to.
It’s a blustery day. I go for a walk again. I am enjoying these rambling walks. Sometimes I take diversions down streets just because they have a nice name. For this reason, today I walk down Christiemiller Avenue, idly wondering who Christie Miller was.
Eugene Peterson wrote something interesting, that I read this morning.
“At our birth we are named, not numbered,” he wrote.
“The name is that part of speech by which we are recognised as a person: we are not classified as a species of animal… We are not assessed for our economic potential and given a cash value. We are named. What we are named is not as significant as that we are named.”
Later I would walk along streets and avenues named after Moira, Stanley, and others, still thinking about Christie Miller.
“The whole meaning of history is in the proof that there have lived people before the present time whom it is important to meet,” wrote Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy.
I make it to Portobello, where, despite the strong winds, the sea looks disappointingly calm. I like it when the sea is rough – reminds me of growing up on the County Down coast, and watching line after line of white-tipped waves pound the beach on stormy days. I guess the wind is coming from the wrong direction for that today.
I stop at a kiosk and get an ice cream. Chocolate waffle cone, with butterscotch ice cream. Shortly after I walk away, the wind whips up some fine sand and showers both me and the ice cream with it. Thereafter it’s a grittier experience.
I think Benjamin Franklin, confident only of death and taxes as life’s certainties, could have added to his list the fact that – on visiting the beach – one will return home with sand in every known orifice.
I head for home, across a golf course, and stumble upon a park with a lake, an island, and a boardwalk, which extends out into the lake a little. I am reminded of boardwalk adventures shared with my friends the Robinsons – on the Gulf Coast of Alabama I think, and maybe Louisiana too. It’s fair to say the climate is not all that comparable.
Solo adventures are ok and fun in their own way. But sharing adventures with friends is better.
Looking forward to being able to do that again.