In this age of the worship of money, pointless gadgets and the lives of people who are famous for being famous, it’s especially gratifying to see the trance state that comes over folk when dolphins are spotted. They do appear from time to time in Mount’s Bay; I remember a very entertaining pair some years ago. We watched them for 45 minutes or so, leaping out of the water and doing that fantastic backwards swim that they do. We were slowly walking along the Promenade, passing people who would act as if enchanted as soon as they saw them. No one left while the display was on, no one went shopping or played with their mobile phones. It made for some very bored dogs who thought they were going for a walk but was an intense experience for the humans. Emotional, too. What is it about seeing whales or dolphins that makes us so emotional? Partly, perhaps, it’s the appearance of downright joy and freedom that these creatures have. And perhaps even the most arrogant human knows deep down that we are not the big cheeses we like to think we are. Didn’t the Romans believe that dolphins were Gods?
Last Sunday a pod of bottlenose dolphins came to visit. I only found out because a kind soul texted me about it – she’d heard it from a guide on St Michael’s Mount who saw them from the castle entrance. I could see them from my window. The sight was quite amazing, although somewhat spoilt by two morons in a speedboat nearly running into them. They were taken aside and told to back off, and I watched the pod, off and on, for some time. Lucky me. It did distract me from writing, but it was more positive than the other distractions I’ve had recently – near nightly nightmares (and not even anything I can use in my writing), stifling day time heat and another ‘stomach bug’ that might be the end of my Crohn’s remission. I’ve got away with it for a long time, so I can’t complain too much. Despite this, The Falling Man is nearly finished, ‘first drafted’ anyway. The story begins nearly at the end, if you know what I mean, and it’s slightly complicated getting it to fit, but I’ve got it worked out now. Finishing a story always feels like the words are trying to push their way through a funnel. Everything has to go in the right place and the unnecessary stuff must be weeded out and discarded – there isn’t room for it. Cross Bound is now with another editor, this time of a more straightforward fantasy magazine. I don’t think I could describe the story as anything other than dark fantasy, although the environmental theme does keep appearing in what I write. I realised during my deeply cynical teenage years that we were destroying the planet as quickly as we could manage it. Back then I thought we were going to nuke it out, but the reality will probably be far more banal.
Meanwhile, the dead young seagull on the roof is quietly decomposing. Its feathers are coming away (I’ve picked a few off the lounge floor) but there’s little other activity. It’s keeping the other gulls away, which is handy, but I’d prefer to be able to get rid of it. It still looks like a gull, though, unlike the seal pup I found on the beach, which was morphing into something else (this appears in The Ferocious Night). Less grotesque but just as death obsessed, The Unthanks will be back in Cornwall in December, doing their Robert Wyatt and Antony and the Johnsons sets. Much as I hate the drive to Falmouth, they’re bound to be amazing. One to think about.