This morning, before transporting Simon to hospital, I took the opportunity to revisit the little seaside town of Hornsea on the East Yorkshire coast. It is only six miles from my childhood home and figured significantly in my formative years. Besides, I had not seen the sea in many months.
Clint and I were there by eight o'clock on what was a mild and promising morning. The bitter wind from the east was no longer blowing and as I walked along the beach, I left my coat unbuttoned. That section of the coast is prone to erosion and since the Romans left these shores, numerous villages have been consumed by The North Sea. Their names ring out like funeral bells - Out Newton, Northorpe, Dimlington, Colden Parva, Sand-le-Mere, Ravenser Odd and a dozen others. It is so sad. Every winter more land is lost.
I passed The Floral Hall where I saw several significant musical acts in the late sixties/early seventies including Roxy Music, Tim Hardin, UFO, Mott the Hoople, Wishbone Ash and Van der Graaf Generator. Like those lost village bells, I only had to close my eyes to hear echoes of that music and see once more the faces of old Hornsea friends and acquaintances - when we were so young.
I turned back and headed to a visitors' shop on the seafront near The Marine Hotel. It was open early and sold colourful beach balls, tacky souvenirs, sticks of sugary seaside rock and - thankfully - a bacon sandwich and a regular latte too. I took them to a bench that looked out towards The Netherlands - far beyond that marine horizon.
Just before nine, I kick-started Clint and we motored back inland to pick up Simon who was annoyingly critical of my careful driving even though I was doing him a big favour. Because of his cancer and prognosis, I forced myself not to respond.
At the hospital, we waited in the Ward 14 "day room" for an hour and spent a further hour by his hospital bed in the side room allocated Nothing had happened and I realised that if Simon had been forewarned I could have just driven over from Sheffield this morning. After two and a half hours, I shook his hand and wished him the best of luck.
It was nice not to have a driving examiner in the passenger seat as I steered Clint homeward. I could be as careful and cautious as I wished, obeying all speed limits and other road signs without any harrumphing.
I really like that sea washed chunk of wall picture. It is a work or art now.ReplyDelete
Hey, that's just what I thought Ed and also it is a good advertisement for the durability of that brand of mortar!Delete
I'm sure Simon's harrumphing was more about anxiety than anything else. I love the word "harrumphing". Unfortunately, I've become a bit of a harrumpher/gasper myself when anyone but me is behind the wheel of the car. I hope Simon's hospital stay goes as well as it can.ReplyDelete
The harrumphing should not have come as a surprise to me. It is always there - just below the surface - and not just in relation to driving.Delete
Well done Neil. Family ties are not always the easiest of ties, but you've negotiated one of the harder knots in all of this, and, by all accounts, done it with grace and kindness, on your part. Your last but one post spoke of childhood scenes now obscured and trees that stand alone, viewed through gaps in the hedge; the English teacher in you echoing those lessons of external elements mirroring the inner emotions, perhaps, but to those of us who look on and read, they are signs that "you've got this", despite the sadness of it all. Now rest. Simon is in the best place possible for him at this time, being cared for, and you need to look after yourself and gather strength for the next steps of this inexorably hard journey. It's sometimes harder to prepare for letting go of someone you didn't always have a positive relationship with, and you need to take care of yourself and wrap yourself up in the love and care of those around you. Cry if you need to, but let Phoebe's smile and laughter be a balm to you, feel the fresh air, take beautiful photographs, have plenty of hugs from Shirley, and cook amazing food. We're all here, supporting you virtually, and sending our love. Go gently, our friend...ReplyDelete
What a lovely, generous comment Elizabeth! I value your kindness, your wisdom and your genuine moral support.Delete
The brief visit to that beach must have been quite calming before the stresses of the rest of your day.ReplyDelete
I do not think I had seen the sea since September 2019 when we were on holiday in Croatia before COVID and Putin and all the rest.Delete
Mott the Hoople? That's a blast from the past. All The Young Dudes.ReplyDelete
They put on a good show.Delete
You will be glad to see the back of that east wind.ReplyDelete
Those villages swept away by the North Sea have troubling names ...
Dimlington, Colden Parva, Sand-le-Mere, Ravenser Odd.
*The rain is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh upon the glass,*
as Edna St Vincent Millay wrote.
Having to say goodbye to your Simon in Ward 14 was very hard.
The consultant told my brother of 57 he had only three months.
Brian said, 'Could you make that six months, Doctor?'
So, what happened Haggerty? Did Brian get his six months? Or did you have a pint with him just last night? You cannot wander off leaving a story untold, man!Delete
Mr Haggerty can do as he wishes Debby. He is a free spirit - like a wandering albatross scanning the world beneath. I am drinking a mug of tea and toasting Brian.Delete
Brian did not get those six months, Debby.Delete
And I had not seen him in four or five years.
He smiled when he asked the doctor for more time.
Though he suffered from an anxiety disorder and was very reclusive, he had a strange gift of drawing people to him, owing partly to his youthful good looks, and his immense kindness and absence of ego.
Pancreatic cancer is aggressive and swift, and he died at home in south London, in the care of my other younger brother, Ian.
A few days before he died, Brian asked Ian for a glass of whisky and spoke lucidly about the past, Mother and Father, his siblings, his youth and friends.
On the last full day of his life he was unable to speak owing to the morphine, and Ian said he kept looking at him with such intensity.
He slipped away while Ian was on the phone to me here in Glasgow.
A curious incident.
In his last weeks Brian told Ian that a very friendly man dressed in black kept appearing in his dreams.
'This man is helping me,' he told Ian.
Ian had been praying to his favourite saint, John Ogilvie, but had never mentioned this to Brian who was agnostic in his world-view.
John Ogilvie was martyred in Glasgow Cross, about an hour's walk from where I live.
Catholicism was outlawed in Scotland by pain of death after the Reformation.
The dividing line between belief and unbelief is thinner than we suppose hence the famous prayer:
*Lord I believe; help thou my unbelief.*
Mark 9: 24.
You know, Haggerty, your last paragraph really is something to ponder. I have fallen into unbelief. Completely. I'm a little shocked by it after all these years, but here I am.Delete
I love that chunk of brick wall softened by the sea.ReplyDelete
It was heavy but I should have carried it to my car as a seaside souvenir.Delete
Spume hey. It sounds like a name a politician invented to disguise pollution with a slightly scientific name. Whether it is pollution or not, it makes people think of dirty water, rather like power station cooling towers emitting huge clouds of condensation. It doesn't hurt for people to think it is terrible and polluting smoke.ReplyDelete
Well you made the best of the task with a walk and some memories.
Spume is a natural marine phenomenon and not a bodily fluid.Delete
Why do men shake hands?ReplyDelete
I got my husband to hug his father by telling him to give his father a hug from me. Sigh.
Tell him how you feel, don't wait.
I don't hug men. The handshake is like a physical embrace - skin on skin. It says "hello", "goodbye", "I respect you" or "I love you". I refuse to join the hugging cult that has grown up in the last three decades.Delete
I should make a counter-article in defence of handshaking. I notice that this one came out of Berkeley, San Francisco - home of flower power. I will not be starting to hug men any time soon.Delete
That last photo gives me a sense of calm and peace. I would love to be sitting there looking out over the water. Glad you could be there for Simon and could spend the time together.ReplyDelete
The sea has a soothing quality at times - good for the human spirit. I would have bought you a coffee if you had suddenly appeared at the beachfront shop.Delete
Going back to familiar long ago places gets us to think of many experiences. It's sad when some of these old places are gone like the land being washed into the sea.ReplyDelete
In places a metre or more of the East Yorkshire coast is lost every year.Delete
Well, I don't know what that square means Catalyst. Is it an anti-vaxxers' symbol?Delete
I tend to forget that some computers don't pick up emojis. This one was just a face looking sort of sad or perhaps thoughtful. At any rate, stay strong, Professor. And I'll try to remember to stick to words.Delete
Especially the last picture here speaks to me, but I also love the piece of wall which I really took to be a deliberate work of art instead of a natural/accidental one.ReplyDelete
I have never been to Hornsea but I have just this week seen photos of it on another blog I regularly read; I recognised the sculpture of the gull instantly.
The piece of wall is entirely accidental apart from the fact that I picked it up and moved it so that it would not be surrounded by other beach stones and debris.Delete
I had to laugh at you complaining about Simon complaining about your driving. "Siblings!" I said but as melinda suggests, anxiety is probably the real reasonReplyDelete
I guess it is because he has lived alone for so long. That unpleasant aggression lies just below the surface. It has done for many years. He is a hard brother to love.Delete
The break in the clouds is pretty. I wish our governments or councils would consider building groynes instead of the annual carting of sand from one beach to another.ReplyDelete
Groynes only hold up the movement of sand and pebbles. They don't stop it.Delete
Fascinating photos YP, and I particularly like the last one - it give form to the sad history of the crumbling, bleak coastline. A trip down memory lane for you.ReplyDelete
You have done all you can for Simon, and hopefully there will be some respite for him now that he's in hospital.
It's like we arrived at an important milepost yesterday. I think he should have reached it in January when he was much stronger.Delete
"Doctor, Doctor", "Lights Out I London". Great UFO tracks. Love the band but never saw them live. Farewell tour this year. All I know about Hornsea is the pottery.ReplyDelete
The actual pottery is no more but I often see pieces of Hornsea pottery in junk shops. I bet you occasionally see Hornsea pottery at car boot sales. Very distinctive.Delete
Yes I do see it at carboot sales.Delete
I too have written about Hornsea. Big beaches and wide open skies. Many happy memories of hitch hiking there while still at school, to stay at a friend's static caravan which his family had on the cliff top site.ReplyDelete
I am glad that Hornsea was there as a backdrop to some of my best teenage memories.Delete
It's a gorgeous section of the coast, but I can imagine it would be quite bleak in winter.ReplyDelete
Winter bleakness can be attractive in its own right - when angry waves beat upon the shore. Not too fond of the cold rain though.Delete
It is funny how siblings snipe, Paul's brother was exactly the same. But Simon is in the best place for now and your driving skills unremarked on. I am going to be truthful here, I do not like the East coast much prefer the West coast of Wales but Hornsea looks a good beach and the sea as perfect as ever.ReplyDelete
Eh? Have you ever been to Withernsea? It is rather like St Tropez with the ambience of Palm Beach, Florida.Delete
It was lovely to see some pictures of Hornsea. All I know of it is that THAT is where some pottery comes from. Sorry your brother was critical of your driving. I suppose he is ill and grumpy. Probably best to bite your tongueReplyDelete
Of course Simon is the most competent driver in the kingdom - above reproach.Delete
Oh, siblings! Our relationships were formed so early and are so hard, if not impossible, to change.ReplyDelete
You are probably right Mary. Blood is thicker than friendship.Delete
That piece of wall is so cool! I have never seen anything like that. I would want to take it home with me and put it in my garden.ReplyDelete
Family! We love them but they can drive us crazy sometimes! Hang in there, Neil!
An artist would find it exceedingly difficult to sculpt an identical chunk of wall. The sea is arguably the most skilful sculptor ever.Delete
Elizabeth has said so well all that I would wish to say. A visit to the ocean always boost my spirits whatever the weather. Your side trip to Hornsea and all its memories was a bonus.ReplyDelete