Notes From a Fragile Island. 12

January 21st 2007 (M25)

The M25 is, as I have suspected for some time, more than just a motorway that encircles London and the surrounding suburbs: it is a dark magic that ensnares. It cannot be coincidence that once beyond its grasp the air becomes breathable; the sky, bigger; the scenery, vibrant – so vivid, in fact, that the colours are intoxicating to one who has become accustomed to the monochromatic. Toto, I have a feeling that we’re not in Kansas anymore!

Somewhere out beyond Hook a huge hot-air balloon hangs in the sky. As we pass beneath it I am able to make out the message printed on its skin – HAPPY BIRTHDAY. It is not my birthday, but I know that the secret meaning is for me – Happy Birth Day. The cloak falls from my shoulders and, winding down the window, I take a deep breath and realise that I am free. London shrinks into the rearview.

January 21st 2016 (South Shields)

8:30am. The sky over Souter lighthouse is pink. I cycle the concrete length of the quiet pier to watch the DFDS ferry come in. The ship appears on the horizon and, just shy of 9, it passes between the jaws of the north and south piers on its way to Tyne docks. A man on the upper deck shouts something across the water to me, but I can’t make out what. I wave. He flicks the V’s!

9:30am. There is a young couple on the otherwise deserted Littlehaven beach. The sand whips around them. He wears a dark blue suit and she a short, pale blue dress over which she has a grey shawl that flags on the wind. Her legs are bare and, circling him, she takes his photograph as he, a stiletto shoe in each hand, gazes, in a rather too thoughtful pose, out to sea. It is an odd little scene.

10:00am. The crow court. On the Lawe Top four crows are fighting on the grass in the shadow of the beech trees. They tumble and caw loudly whilst several others hop and bounce excitedly around them, rather like a playground scrap. In the otherwise silent and empty park it is quite an eerie sight. I clap my hands together to try and make them stop, but they pay no attention. I ring the bell on my bike (tring-tring), nothing. Finally, I shout “HEY!” and this seems to do the trick. They separate and fly off to a tree and throw what I assume to be crow expletives at me! “SILENCE IN COURT!” I shout back at them, but they just shrug. KAA!

January 21st 2021 (Penn Beacon)

The synchronicity of the numbers is immediately apparent to me – the 0’s, the 1s and the 2s. Maybe there is nothing to this beyond the noticing, but in just noticing, there is magic enough.

I have noticed for years that it is often 13:13 when I glance at the time. So much so that I am surprised and a little put out if it’s ever a minute before or after. I don’t know what this means, but I find some comfort in it.

My sleep is still all over the place – day time is night time is day – but I tire of this nocturnal existence and I know that it does me no good. I eke and claw back the hours and soon I will be back at the beginning again; hooray! I put this down to having no structure imposed because of the plague and no one to say, come to bed, Nick Reeves. Also, I keep in mind that I am 21 days in my sobriety; hooray! 21 days in my lockdown; whatever! I am glad that I will not be back at work until spring because by then I can turn it all round again and get up and write of a morning. Who knows, maybe I could dump the tobacco by then… but one thing at a time.

I reached for the HP sauce to put onto my lasagne – yeah, I’m goddamn crazy, me! – and the use by date on the lid read 21/01/22. So… plenty of time for that, too!

42 thoughts on “Notes From a Fragile Island. 12

  1. All three of these scenes are incredibly vivid and real. “M25” reminds me of how I feel getting the hell out of Boston and environs. Until they’re well in the rearview, I can’t breathe. I love the crow court. Those creatures have no decorum, no respect for their betters (i.e., us).

    Congratulations on your sobriety.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Lawe Top, because of its location – high above the Tyne’s mouth – was an area once lived in by pilots and lifeboatmen and coastguards. There are a series of extremely steep steps that lead from the park top to the river side that allowed the pilot a quick way down to the riverside to guide incoming vessels. They are quite a terrifying prospect at the best of times!
      It was once actually an island and I think that ‘lawe’ is a corruption of ‘island’. Anyway, it struck me as fitting that the crow court was taking place above the law/e.
      Thank you, Liz x

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Similarly with the dream diaries I am always thrilled at how these scenes, these slices – from life, from sleep – can be brought vividly back to mind with a few recorded words. Day-to-day memories and dreams (particularly so) are so slippery, but a few words in a journal are a great reminder.
      Thank you, Jane.


      1. …it’s still only January, Jane. There’s bound to be some diary bargains out there 😉 If I didn’t then yesterday would be a blur to me! Thanks for coming by.


      1. “Some years as empty pages” sounds like the start of a poem or engaging prose. 😄

        My strange 3:33 wakeup time began occurring when I was pregnant with my daughter. I did feel blessed and amazed by the experience. It still happens occasionally and always leaves me in awe and in gratitude.
        Enjoy your week. 😃

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Michele. re 333: Ooh, I love that – a kind of mind-muscle memory, all delivered wrapped in a lovely feeling!

        re ‘Some years…’ You’re on to something there. See you next week – swap poems! x

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes! My wife was a ‘sandancer’ and that did seem to be her go-to response to most things! However, beyond the Vs, they are some of the most canny folk.

      (It’s tempting to ask your friend’s name…)

      Thanks for dropping by. Happy travels!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it is (as is Liddle)! It was certainly one of those towns where whoever you met was a cousin of someone. It’d be the classic…oh, if I saw him I’d recognise him scenario!

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  2. I don’t know why, but whenever I’m driving away from a city, and can see all of its tallest buildings in the rear view mirror, I’d really like the moment to be accompanied by the Mission Impossible theme music.

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  3. Nice Nick. Thanks for sharing.

    Just for shits and giggles, I looked back to the same dates in mine. I had nothing for ’07, but in ’17 I had “dreams I couldn’t remember with lots of people in them” after starting on Lunesta the night before. I wake often at three in the morning, right at three. I don’t even bother to look at the clock anymore. I had hoped the insomnia would have gone away with the depression and bad decision making, but after 30 years I can say with a reasonable degree of certainty that, for me, it wasn’t the alcohol that kept me awake.

    13:13 would be about the time you broke up the Crow Court, aye.



    Liked by 2 people

    1. 1. re diaries: I have whole seasons, whole years missing in mine, too (the same could be said of real life). But, looking back through them (a risky business in itself) I’m pleased that I wrote/recorded something and often surprised at how the mundanity of it all is often the magic. Some years/seasons though may have to remain in the vaults…until 2030

      2. That sounds a busy dream…all the crowds in the fug!

      3. Perfectly good number! Apparently love, wisdom and luck are nearby?! “If only I could get through this crowded, clouded dream.”?!


      Liked by 1 person

  4. “too thoughtful a pose . . .” Ha – too many times I’ve seen that. funny. Makes me think of a Bollywood poster.

    11:11 is my number.

    Rock on, Nick Reeves. Life just gets more interesting. My sleep is upside down, too – slowly righting itself. well, maybe not completely upside down, but I get a second wind at 10pm – and then – if I try to sleep I just lie there. Giving myself permission to get up somehow makes it easier to sleep.

    So good!


    Liked by 2 people

    1. So true, H. Troy – the giving oneself ‘permission’ to get back up is almost a revelation isn’t it!

      …All the ones, nice!

      Haha, South Shields Bollywood! Love it (and you are spot on)!

      Thank you for your energy and eye xx

      Liked by 1 person

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