Notes From a Fragile Island. 16

February 20th 2019 (Whitley Bay)

7am. Breakfast in bed; poached egg, toast, coffee.

Miles Ahead, Miles Davis film. My favourite things – his bug-eye shades and coked-out cornrows, his chiselled cheeks and silver shirt (what is that, latex?!), circa Bitches’ Brew, which, now I’ve seen the makings of, begins to make more sense – a series of extended live jams mixed into shape by Teo Maceo – but, only slightly less impenetrable!


10am. Broom cupboard. Record a second guitar for an instrumental that may or may not become ‘Wet Sleeves’.

2pm. Mike W drops Fergus off. MW is off to London to watch a chess tournament at The Albert Hall, though, surely this can’t be correct?! Fergus, his Springer puppy, is staying the night here. We take a walk out on the Longsands. The sky is spring blue, but the wind is arctic. It skims the tops from the breakers. Fergus is inexhaustible! Drop into Surf Café for a pot of tea. Fergus, under the table, curls at my feet, soaking wet, dozes. I buy a ticket for Mike W & Alan Mc’s album launch, here in April.

6pm. Add a third, picked, guitar line to this morning’s work.

8pm. The Rockcliffe Arms with Dave & Jane B and Spanish Ian. Fergus, under the table, wrapped round my jeans, dozes. DB empties a pocketful of plastic tokens onto the table, left over winnings from his Christmas Quiz victory. He kindly buys all the drinks with these! The bar maid is painfully thin and the men at the bar frown as she spreads out the tokens on the counter and adds up their total, according to colour, with a movement of lips and tapping the tips of her fingers on her inconsiderable chin.

11pm. Take the scenic route home along the seafront. The puppy snaps at the snow. The ships in the bay sparkle like distant cities.

Midnight. Book a flight to Berlin.

February 20th 2020 (Whitley Bay)

A busy postcard from Nick B. I pocket it to savour at Cullercoats Coffee. I sit out the front at one of the tables and smoke and take a mug of tea and read it through several times. Nick B writes a great postcard.

The flat is on the market again. 6pm two Polish women and a babe-in-arms arrive. The flat feels suddenly crowded. I sit on the kitchen work top and listen to them speak as they walk around, which takes all of two minutes. The elder of the two speaks no English, looks very confused. The younger (her daughter, the prospective buyer) translates for me: “No TV?” I haven’t had a TV for ten years. Daughter nods and translates for mother. Mother tuts for some reason and they suddenly leave!

As I close the door behind them I see a card on the door mat. It is from TV Licensing. The gist of it being that an inspector had visited to check on there being ‘no television registered at this address’! Perhaps the mother and daughter and child..? Ha! Seems a somewhat convoluted and complicated cover, but a lovely coincidence all the same!

February 20th 2021 (Penn Beacon)

A tooth, worked loose over the year, a dog tooth, a canine, falls out as I brush my teeth. I study it for some time, a little sad, a little shocked, but, ultimately relieved. The dentist had been keen to have it out last year, but I found him far too eager. I put it in a red lacquer pill box with Greetings From St. Petersburg embossed on the lid (a gift from Jess C last summer). I return the pill box to its tiny space in the printers’ letter tray that hangs on the living room wall, along with a collection of things that I’ve found (and, now, lost) and try to forget about it. But how can you forget about something like this?

17 thoughts on “Notes From a Fragile Island. 16

    1. Unlike my tooth, The Surf Café had some cosmetic work done this time last year and was sold onto a bigger company from the city. Initial concerns of it losing its charm (as you no doubt recall – the clutter, the one WC, the dogs allowed, the non existent stage which only added to the thrill, the mini[ature] bar and the lax licensing) were quelled by the new owners, but, of course, it is yet to reopen as a live venue due to the blah.

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      1. Greetings. I used to work in part of a small community building that had a small café downstairs (considered charming by many a visitor). Then grants were obtained, the premises renovated, the café changed hands (numerous times) and the rent increased. It currently lies empty. I wish your Café a better fate!

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      2. Hello, Brian. First time I visited Saint Mary’s Lighthouse I was enchanted by the damp tearoom-cum-gift shop, the rattling bannisters and the ladder up the final twenty feet to the light itself. Seals bask here on the rocks (only some miles from the Farne islands further north). The man in the tea room enthused about the planned million pound makeover in the pipeline, but the dreams of such renovation – a glass viewing platform to watch the seals (with licence for weddings and parties) restricted access to the light room, a refurbishment of the cafe entailing interactive screens, etc left me kind of cold as I filled a mug with hot water from an urn in the corridor and stirred the bag within!

        God save little shops, china cups and virginity.

        Thank you so much for dropping by. All luck. Nick.

        Liked by 1 person

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