did i ever tell you of my ufo experience? are you sure? lord knows, any veering of conversation in the direction of the ethereal, the ‘beyond the curtain’, of ‘otherness’ – particularly (oh, I’m sure you know me well enough!) after a glass or two – will have me steering almost evenly toward a telling of my own visitation! – well, either way, it bears repeating as it is one of a very few mysterious happenings that have, to some extent, shaped, or rather shadowed, my life.
it was mid afternoon – a weekend or school holiday perhaps; this would explain the reason for both mum & i to be at home together to witness such a thing. the nearest i could go to dating this close encounter further would be to say it was the mid 70s.
cliff house – that particular incarnation of cliff house – stood in a similar position (the very top end of old lyme road, facing the sea) as the one that occupies that site today. interestingly enough, after visiting there several years ago (when i lived again, briefly, in that area) i was surprised & delighted, to see that the cliff had fallen very little into the sea. that stretch of coastline, the westerly edge of southern dorset, the ‘jurassic coast’ as it is known, being composed mostly of hard sand atop liassic clay, is prone to erosion. the garden of cliff house remained pretty much as i remembered it in the nineteen seventies; idyllic & wild… & high: portland curved faintly, cupping, comforting the eastern horizon beyond the ever-distant great knuckle of golden cap. stonebarrow slouching to sea level & the char basin. to the west, below, black venn layered in blue clay & gorse yellow collapsing to green rock & sand. eventually, to the west, the cobb, a stone claw pinching at the sea that hangs suspended as far as the eye can see all around. lyme regis huddled, conspiratorially, at its back! at the far end of the garden the same gnarly crab apple tree, no closer to slipping over the lip than it had been then (bent decades further into the wind, yes, but surviving) when my brothers & i scrumped & fed its hard fruit to a fusty & bony white billy goat with rectangular black pupils that lived in our garden – or, else we slung the fruit hard toward the sea, the sky.
it appeared from the east, several miles out over the bay (the water was tinplate. the sky was pig skin). a plain, silver object, travelling at what speed i cannot guess – slow enough though to notice, to follow with the eye, to call mum through from another room, to source & pick up the binoculars from wherever they waited, to track, to talk of, to witness, to wonder at – It wasn’t a disc as such, it was what is described as ‘cigar shaped’; cylindrical. i wonder how long we watched, the both of us taking turns with the ‘glasses? a couple of minutes – certainly forever. then, the curious thing… midway across the bay, between portland & lyme, it paused, briefly, high in the sky & then, vertically, impossibly, zip, blink, it was gone! we’ve talked of it, mum & i, only very rarely over the years. but what is there to make of it beyond reaffirming the tale to each other?