Sunday, October 14, 2007

the eye of the roost

Not sure if I'll be able to remain upright once this boat enters Da Roost which is the choppy stretch of water between Fair Isle

Geography not my strong suit. 

So. I'm in the bar, nervously necking g&t as if there's about to be a drought. We sail in forty minutes and an hour after that I'll find out if I'm going to survive this trip without redecorating my cabin.

Packing up all my earthly goods took far, far longer than I'd anticipated. This is in part because I had brought at least twice what I required sartorially, gastronomically and work-wise. Plus, I have contributed my small share towards Shetland's tourist economy in buying stuff to bring back to my little girls. And I have also received gifts aplenty. And yeah - I can't bear to throw anything out if it looks like it may come in useful at some future date. Oh jeez, my poor car.

Where 'stuff' is concerned, I need to cultivate a serene and chilled Buddhist ideal of non-attachment. I need to learn how to let go. What has also taken far longer than it should is my paranoia regarding leaving my car stuffed to the roof with goodies ( electric violin, artwork, computer, i-pods, notebooks,  favourite cashmere jumper, best of irreplacably best coats, hillwalking gear, oh heck I could never replace the current contents of my car) in the centre of wicked and sinful Aberdeen ( well, this is according to a good friend and Aberdeen resident who regularly warns us to strip our car of consumer durables every time we go visit him - me, I'd've left all manner of crap wilfully displayed on the dashboard, but not any more, no way, not now.) I'm stopping briefly enroute home to my wee girls so that I can take my youngest son out to breakfast for, bless his little pointy head, he has promised to rise up out of his student pit on Sunday morning at 8.00 a.m. to come and have breakfast with me.

I know. This is not normal student behaviour, especially not on the other side of Saturday night. I haven't seen him since I left to come to Shetland ( once the boat sails, I'll have to amend that to       'since I left to go to Shetland'. Past tense. I used to live on Shetland, once upon a dream) and I won't see him again until his Christmas break, so this breakfast will be doubly precious ; in a family of five children, having one child all to oneself is a rare treat. 

That is, if he gets up on time. 

Today and yesterday have been a long unwinding, rewinding of the steps leading up to my arrival, reversing and unravelling it and turning it into departure. Yesterday began with a pre-recorded interview about the residency with Mary Blance for Radio Shetland's book programme ( tx 1st November) The interview was recorded at her kitchen table in amongst her teetering mountains of review copies, ( Mary scales the peaks of literature while Andy, her other half, scales the peaks of Britain's mountain summits) her generous coffee pot, neon kettle and freezer that had to be turned off since its motor was making a bid for stardom on the airwaves. We spoke of everything, but only a fraction of this will make it to broadcast on the 1st November.

By which time, mainland life will have swallowed me whole. Living for a brief spell in Shetland has given me a real hunger for living on an island - a hunger that we do not have the means to satisfy right now. I'll come back to this later because it is a thread of wishing that has woven through my life ever since I was a little girl and first stepped foot on the island of Mull. There have been a few islands since then, but Shetland has sunk a deep hook in my heart. Later. Much later. We will find a way back to the garden.

The engines rumble and thrum underfoot. Time to neck my medicinal gin and head outside to watch the land disappear off the starboard side. And say a little prayer to the small demon of mal-de-mer ; please let me not redecorate my cabin. 


Mel said...

*sigh* I would so love to meet Mary Blance. I just love her voice. And, well, the Blances are my Shetland roots, so long lost rellies and all.

Unknown said...

Mary is every bit as lovely and gentle as she sounds. And - she makes the best monkfish soup that I've ever tasted. You're simply going to have to include Shetland in your honeymoon itinerary even if it is a very long way from California.