“You’re from Minnesota!” said the deeply tanned lanky man sitting at a desk at the bottom of The Southwold Lighthouse.
Yes, but where? Did she tell you that? I don’t think she did. Careless of her.
We were in Southwold, in the historic lighthouse - which still works, and still keeps ships from dashing themselves on the shoals or grounding in the shallows. Jan E did the tours that day, and had set aside tickets for us. The morning began as they should - an amble up the high street to the Black Dog or Mucky Pup, where we had a croissant or muffin and a good cup of coffee. Off to Southwold at 11, and up the stairs at 11:30.
Once to the top you bid your heart to bang a bit less, and listen to Jan impart the tales, the lore, the codes: it’s an FLW10S here, because you know you’re at Southwald when the Flashing Light (White) occurs at 10 Second intervals. Once it was oil-powered, with an ingenious device that capped the wick for nine seconds and revealed it on the tenth. All computerized and LED now, of course.
The final portion of the tour involved a passage up a staircase that was so sternly raked everyone feared falling and breaking something, but I was mostly concerned with our old pal Claus Trophobia, and man, were we tight chaps after all these years.
Views for miles.
We had lunch in Southwold, s a beachy touristy town, as they say, or perhaps don’t because they have some self-respect, and I love it.
It's a little chip shop. That's the name.
Hail the retro salt:
Then back to Blythe Reach, and a few hours before the Theater Crowd arrived for dinner. There was a production of a new show en route, and DK and Astrid being keenly woven into the local scene, it was natural they should show up and break bread. In the intervening hours Daughter and I sat at the table in the Hut and wrote, and it was one of those moments when you realize:
This is the best of life here, right here; gets no better. In Walbers. On a perfect summer day. At the table, laptops open, banging away on our various projects.
And it feels both normal and extraordinary.
I will endeavor to make this happen again. It might. It probably will! That’s the fantastic part! But for now, this, this, the utter magic and normality of it: please remember and know that this was everything. Just us, here, writing, finishing the coffees, deciding on a whim to switch to something mildly spiritous, clinking the glass, continuing on: typing, typing. The Work.
The theater folk arrived around five, and they were delightful. Wine, nibble things - rain! Inside. More guests arrive - rain stopped, back outside. Oh it’s Jane and Paul! I stayed at their house twice, BnB, lovely people - Paul you’ve probably seen if you’ve been to a movie in the last 15 years. They brought their dog Stanley; I know Stanley. We’ve played. Stanley was the swain of Mabel, the King’s dog -
But they’ve had a falling out. They’ve drifted apart.
So I’m taking to Jan, in whose house we stayed our first trip, and who was our lighthouse tour guide, and also a writer for the regional glossy and oh also some thing they call the Beeb? And I ask the writer Q, what are you working on now?
She has a radio series with Beeb with Inspector Thursday and Pats from AbFab, and it’s going smashingly.
Not a direct quote.
Later in the evening after the chicken but before the dessert I find myself talking to the director of the troupe, and there’s the expected throwing of fastballs past each other’s heads - here’s a sharp clever offhand reference / oh I get it here’s the same back at you with a bit more spin, and as the conversation gets out of books and into music, it turns out he’s the only Burgess - Knopfler - Costello - Genesis fan I’ve ever met. So naturally I think he’s a pretty smart and cultured fellow.
I went back here to write, slept a powerful deep sleep, then woke to the news: STRIKE SUSPENDED. And the Black Dog or Mucky Pup was open on Monday, not closed as expected. Everything’s going fine.
Tomorrow: the last walk and the long drive.