Posted by: smithdavid | July 29, 2012

Fisherman’s Blues

The road narrows as I near Inchydoney Beach. My hands clamp the steering wheel as I stutter along behind the snaking line of cars. Beside me the mini-mal is wedged over the bent-forward passenger seat. Its presence excites a childish impatience in me. The sky is blue and clear and the holiday homes that I now pass, colourful in the placid sunlight, remind me of the sea-side homes of my childhood.

I take one last bend and now I can see out to the surf. ‘Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes!’ I hear myself say – aloud, above the Waterboys’ Fisherman’s Blues, which is blaring from the CD player. From far out in the turquoise ocean there is a series of dark blue lines, each one bigger than the one behind, running long and parallel with the shore. As they come closer they swell up, peak at one point, and then peel off in an explosion of white foam. ‘Here in my heart!’ I sing along with Mike Scott, scream along. ‘Whoo-ooh!’

inchydoney strand

I see a figure standing on the point that separates the two sides of the strand. On his face is mesmerisation, I imagine he sees the same expression in me.

‘That’s about as good as it gets,’ I say.

He smiles, looks for a while longer and then speaks: ‘No point just looking at it – I’m getting togged out!’

I return to my car and begin to change. The Waterboys are blaring again – ‘I wish I was a fisherman…’

It’s easy to get out back and before long there is a wave. It’s perfect and, through no design of my own, I’m ideally placed to make it right in the sweat spot. I’m very conscious of the situation – this hardly ever happens – a clean, sunny day and a cracking wave first up. I can sense the guy from the car park is nearby and watching. The wave pulls at the mini-mal and if I stand up right now I’ll make the drop. But there is too much thought and the moment is too big and I fluff my lines.

I paddle around, searching for another opportunity. The line-up is beginning to fill – others must’ve seen a similar sight to what we did from the car park.

‘I’m gonna get a bigger board…’ says Jason (we introduced ourselves while sitting out back). Both of us have found conditions to be not quite as ideal as they first appeared. We could complain but we’re in the sea and the sun is shining. We spend a moment in silence before he goes. No words are required to express the mixture of disappointment and gratitude.

a long, clean line

I make a few waves – they’re not as heavy as they are big and the ride is short. Sitting out back and waiting is not as good as making wave after wave of four-footers. But it’s better than just about anything else.

My mind goes to the party that I’m going to later. I think how relieved I am that she won’t be there because I don’t think I could bear being around her and this new guy. I think about someone else that something nearly started with but didn’t. The waves keep coming in – lifting me up, setting me down, lifting me up, setting me down. Now I don’t think about anything at all but the sea.


  1. David, there are few constants in life but there’s the ocean and the waves- that’s for sure. And being at one with those waves is pretty damned good therapy, I’ve found.

    Keep writing. Keep surfing.


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