Right of Way

Drizzle soothed my warm ham face. I ate a sausage bap and got wet. The bus to Land’s End was open-top, but nobody’d brought their goggles so we all sat on the lower deck peering at the bottom half of some green and grey views for an hour. I wondered about the first-and-last pub at our destination, I vaguely remembered its existence from a school trip or a family holiday or a film or a dream or a newspaper article or an episode of Michael Palin's Affable Wayfaring or a hallucination or absurd wish I had once. The drizzle stopped. The bus stopped. The pub was still standing, but it seemed like some slobbering maniac with a hammer’d boarded up all the windows. I checked round the other side, thinking maybe there was some kind of sunlight tax in operation (if you want natural light you'd better go outside and fucking work for it, explained Mr. Osborne, not just loaf around in booths and nooks, drinking yourself gormless and sucking away the sunlight from hard-working British outdoor family units, before laying down a classic slide show about how the way to solve a problem is to make it worse, to a theatre full of thieves and ghouls, naked except for hoods) and they’d covered up all but one of the windows to keep the overheads down and pass on their savings to you, the valued customer, in the form of competetively-priced while still independently-owned pints. But no. There was a man pulling things out of the front garden and putting them in a bucket. It’s closed, he said.
I turned around and strode and wept manfully towards the westernmost shopping village in England. Tears slid down my neck while I looked at jumpers and sweets and wondered what this tiny mall had to do with the demise of the pub. Probably everything. Maybe I should snap all the sticks of rock in half and start eating the fudge without taking it out of the boxes until someone views my thirst and anguish seriously. French children threw soft toys at German children. I went and stood on the edge of a cliff.
It was a good cliff, surrounded by other good cliffs, and I walked towards Sennen Cove wondering if there are people who grow up without cliffs like there are people who grow up without snow, and thought I might write the word cliffs down as a note to myself, and discovered I’d lost my pen.
I walked up the hill to the Sennen post office bus stop and waited for the bus to Porthcurno. It arrived exactly on time but on the opposite side of the road to the one advertised, and for some reason didn’t take my slightly narrowed eyebrows as an indication it should stop. I waited a bit longer and got the bus to St Ives, thinking how many times can a man accidentally arrive in St Ives in one holiday, but I haven't been to the Tate yet so I guess I'll do that now. 
I got off the bus and bought a chicken pasty to eat on the walk to the gallery, and it tasted good and made me think that I was doing the right thing and that all my hopes and dreams were perfectly valid and in no way unattainable, and on the final stretch, gallery to the left, sea in front, last bite of pasty in my raised right hand and me looking at it thinking we were fucking made for each other, you and I, there was a ripple in the atmosphere and the sudden sense of an uninvited presence and no noise at all and then I was looking at the ascending behind of a seagull with my food in its beak, clearly unwilling to negotiate or apologise, and an American couple in white baseball caps asked me if I was alright, and I said I spose it was my turn. I was still hungry.

Eventually Direct

(You needn’t go on about things you loathe all the time, it’s garish.)
I sat on a bench on a bit of sea front between one road and another and listened to a man play a harp, good notes in a fine order while the sea sent wafts of white noise in approval and the seagulls kept their beaks shut for once. It was all a good accompaniment to Jose’s horror, which had intensified to the point where I thought I could smell it. A young man in an old man’s clothes went past pushing a walnut-faced dog in one of those upright-canvas-bag-in-a-wheeled-frame things in which your gran might carry home her bargains. The dog was facing him and he was staring at it not for the first time that day. He pushed it yapping past the harp and before he turned the corner asked it: why are you being like this?
Facing west now (it's important to let you know in which directions this was written), trying to find things to say about the view, get some visual sauce on this introspective pile of uncertain nourishment, but I can’t so I won’t, but I will type it up and submit it to the Telegraph’s travel-writing prize and be utterly furious if it doesn’t win five hundred quid.
Last night the train from St Ives to Penzance went as far as St Erth before going backwards. I should’ve paid attention to the unboldness of the numbers next to the stations after St Erth, in the timetable, which indicated a change should've been made, if Penzance was where you wanted to end up. But I was busy with Jose and had no interest in why some numbers were bold and some unbold, nor why the unbold ones continued in an unbroken chain to the destination. Logic or curiosity might’ve prompted some easy research. But I’m on holiday so I have a lack of both. 
We hurtled backwards while the sun disappeared and Jose piled on the horror and I said to the conductor I’ve stayed on by accident and he nodded like you’re not the first. By the time we were going forwards again the moon was up, looking sunburned.


In St Ives there are crowds in thin lanes and when a bus goes past everybody faces the wall. We are looking at the sea and through gallery windows at pictures of the sea. Tiny dogs ride around in handbags. A few of the shops sell fudge, and one of these shops is very keen to let you know, in an underlined and laminated sign, that the fudge on offer there is in no way affiliated with any of the fudge on offer elsewhere, you got that? All the other fudge is full of broken glass and lies. The fudge game must be no joke round here, many a life having been torn to sweet tatters by the retailing of inferior fudge under the superior name of, I forget what this shop is called. I hope they can find peace before any blood flows into the sea.
Giedra finished. I’ll miss her. Jose Saramago arrived, beeping and jiggling, with his Blindness. It has funny bits, at first, dollops of ha-ha in the worsening squalor. (So far, that is, by page 109, who knows how it’ll progress. The outlook is not good.) I like that Jose doesn’t have time for speech marks. 
I’m at a table on a balcony. Having spent an hour looking at the sea and beach to the east, it might be time now to spend an hour looking at the sea and beach to the west. If I close one eye and tilt my head a bit, I can make my nose replace the land on the other side of the bay, and the waves trundle up it and it tickles.
By page 173 there’s no more room for joking. Maybe the jokes went in at the start to make the eventual lack of jokes seem more serious by contrast.
A sign advertising boat trips lists one of the destinations as Hell's Mouth (no mention of death’s door). For booking information phone Derek. Now I’m in a craft beer/hot dogs type place. You know: a Ruby Jean’s Burger Garage, a Betsy Turnpike’s Chow House, and it has a balcony with a good view of the harbour and the bay and the hills and the balcony I was on earlier. David Gray or oh god it might be James Blunt is playing, and I’m pining for Motown. I could run and launch myself, wailing, off the balcony and over the road and into the water.
Out in the bay a rumour of dolphins emerged and was blown into Derek’s ears and out of his mouth, opposite, but nobody’s biting. I’d like to see a dolphin but he hasn’t offered to bring one to me, and I don’t want to end up in Hell's Mouth, I’ve been there before and only a fool’d go back on purpose, and now The Killers are playing, Jesus, put James Blunt back on.
In between these balconies I walked to Carbis Bay, the next one over, behind the hill my nose was, it was big and quiet, blue and beige, you know what a beach looks like. At the back of it a man sat drinking rose (ay, rose-ay, where's the button for e-garnish on this Mac?) from the bottle, a pink umbrella obscuring his face, but you could see a grey cone of beard tickling his chest, and three small dogs sat watching him.
I’m facing east again. Soon it’ll be time to face west.
Oh here’s Jack Johnson, my life is fraught with invisible peril, won’t be long before Laura Marling’s here, this soundtrack doesn’t seem to go with the hot dogs and craft beer experience, shouldn’t we be having Huey Lewis or a Bill Cosby monologue or something, why’s nobody consulted me on this, it’s as if they don’t value my many balanced opinions at all.
It must be time to go elsewhere. This pint is reluctant to disappear, I don’t know what the music is now but it’s obviously meant to induce contentment, which I’ve always found obnoxious, like a stranger squeezing your hand, here’s Redemption Song, it’s time to go. 

Much At All

On a blustery corner outside a pub, ludicrous to try writing in this wind but let’s. An atmosphere might find its way onto the page for once. It's flinging the top of my San Miguel into the street. The pub is called the Dolphin Inn, the dolphin on the sign looks a lot like a dragon, green skin and a red tongue and it’s flying. I think I detected some disappointment at the bar when I didn’t order the local lager, but I’ve had it before and it tastes like fire extinguisher, the cloudy powdery variety, and is not a refreshing experience. Giedra Radvilaviciute is with me, in book form, wind-bashed, and she’s fun. I’m reading it very slowly so it doesn’t run out, and in case there’s no or very little more of her in English. I’m going to wake up at 6.15 tomorrow and think it’s time for work and spring out of bed and realise it isn’t and spring straight back in to bed. Across the road there’s a building that calls itself a Meadery, but it isn’t open yet. I’ve walked too far today and my feet feel like prime minister’s question time. All this wind is taking the edge off the sun, I don’t mind it. When I arrived last night there was rain congealed in the air and you had to cut through it eyebrow-first and the future seemed grim and familiar. The receptionist had an everything-will-be-fine voice and said tomorrow it might not rain.
I began to mind the wind. Now I'm in the Turks Head garden (no apostrophe), for historical reasons, and a seagull keeps offering to carry my bag home. There’s a sign up discouraging bad language. A man at one of the other tables just said chefs, don’t talk to me about chefs, and started talking about chefs. Mariah Carey’s getting involved. She doesn’t sound happy. Never has. A woman at another table just wants coleslaw for dinner. Come on, you have to have more than that, okay maybe some skin-on chips. They talk about dolphins while I read this in Giedra: I read that a woman in Israel married a dolphin. She kissed him, said I love you, and then dived into the water with her clothes on.
This abundance of dolphinry is encouraging and makes me believe I’m on holiday. I wonder if there’ll be a real one to look at, talk to or provide administrative support for, soon, and do they have tongues in real life or only when they’re on pub signage? Coleslaw woman’s voice doesn’t match her appearance, somehow. Her husband or, who knows, accountant, was talking earlier about the fluctuating price of cherry tomatoes, and why having a regular veg box delivered to your house becomes uneconomical if you always throw away the swedes and turnips. She was listening to this and making one-syllable answers. Now she’s on about something in a sing-song tone that sounds as if it’s building up to a difficult truth, and it’s his turn with the one-syllable answers, but the wind is obscuring the details, except this: you don’t get a haircut before you go to the barber's, do you? And he’s made no response.

Four Supremes

I’m in Cornwall. (Not now. I’m copying out what I wrote in a notebook and then changing it). Seaweed skulks and mooches and flops in the bay. (It doesn't, it just sits in water and on rocks, doesn't it, yes, there's no need to pretend it has motives). The sun squints behind clouds. (Maybe this is accurate). In Mousehole there are two headlines either side of the swinging local headline display unit: Mousehole Man Recalls Role In Car Prank. £20M Of Cocaine Found On Yacht. (Sometimes it's hard to know when exactly fun turns into crime). 
I’ve come on holiday on purpose, I’m going to experience a thing or two. I’m sposed to be starting the finishing of the first draft of a book, but two weeks ago when I gently placed my laptop back in its position something inside the screen exploded and the only images it now displays are meaningless. And how can I start the finishing of the first draft of a book on paper when the rest of it’s trapped in a useless beloved machine, I dunno. When the Greatest Hits of Motown is the only thing that’s playing on the café terrace, there’s no way of knowing whether or not it’s stuck on repeat. (It’s been stuck on repeat your whole life, this is just one more moment in which to be unsure whether or not Diana Ross is still alive, and what she might be up to, either way, right now.)
Things I haven’t brought with me to the café or the holiday include a hat, suncream, shorts, flip-flops and the iPod charger, because I left in a hurry, because I always have to manufacture a minor crisis, because I dunno. I did remember to bring some books and my eyes, though, so that’s a relief. (How long after we’ve invaded Mars will it take for someone to put on the Greatest Hits of Motown? What sort of objections might there be? Will it sound fresh, again, finally, over there? Is there a sound art piece that’s every Motown hit being played simultaneously, like there was with all the national anthems a while back?)
While I was walking to Mousehole this morning, to learn about what vehicles they use for pranks and cocaine, I passed a garden full of scarecrows with plates for faces and bottles for arms and bits of old rope for hair and then one of them was a dolphin on a stick. (Half-hour interlude for relocation here because Motown stopped and Simply Red came on, and while I was scattering tables, shattering bowls and sinking boats in my desperation to get out of earshot or die, I was regretting everything I’d just written about Motown and promising, internally, to you and whoever else, that I’d never be ner-ner about a good thing again, because of brain-consequences, like after I wrote about the bird foetus I dreamt someone gave me fifteen budgies, but they lived with their feet planted in little pots of soil, and I said thanks I’ll look after them, and the giver went away, and all of the budgies very quickly one-by-one died quietly gasping, and I shook them all out into a bin bag and held the bin bag to my chest and it started squirming, and I woke up with the feeling I should stop being flippant about gestation.)

Yesterday's Mistakes

We saw a sparrow foetus in the pub. In the garden, by the hedge. Some people were screwfacing away from it and some people were, having heard about it, sprinting towards it. It fast became a must-see foetus. And I don't know if it was a sparrow or not, but sparrow foetus sounds a lot better than boring old non-specific bird foetus. And if it's not a sparrow then it must be something like a brown shrieker, lesser privet bellower, or beige nuisance, which are the three species most commonly spotted in that hedge, from the nearby tables, at which we've all spent entire months drinking oceans of booze a pint at a time, listening to the high-speed metallic quarrelling of these birds without ever finding out their proper names or what it is that makes them so angry. Maybe it's that we'd been ignoring their foetuses. No more. It lay in the sun with a crowd exuding scrutiny at it, pointing out each feature with a my god or a fucking hell, eyes, gob, hands, are those hands, they're not sposed to have hands, while the other crowd, a few yards away, groaned as it heard each new detail, and became a support group for people who didn't anticipate this kind of thing landing in their Sunday roast, especially if they'd opted for the chicken. We love nature.

Unheard-of Side

In a right-angled cavern south of everywhere, a mercilessly average film projected itself at our heads. Bees were in it so how are you going to really complain. It featured a distressingly competent actor playing identical twins with beards and coughs. And one pretty soon ended up pretending to be the other and some people realised and some didn't. And there was a plot and some vengeance and it was all in Spanish. Which probably was because the financial backers had had it all filmed in English like anyone with any sense would've done but then grew worried about recouping their dubloons and had shown a rough cut to the local ombudsman and he'd gone fine yeah guns and money I get it. But: If an English-speaking-and-hearing audience is going to leave a screening thinking they haven't been filmically nobbled by this then we're going to have to re-do the whole thing in Spanish so as to hang a thin and arty and therefore more valuable gauze between the audience and its common sense. But we'll show it in the multiplexes rather than the art-sheds. For extra because so basically I'm not very sure. But I've booked it all now and it's too late to stop. And in the taxis afterwards they'll wonder what it thought it was, and in beds they'll curse and shrug while dreams of better things run through them, and you might almost make your money back.