The strong wind blowing off the Irish Sea knocked you off your step.
Here I am sitting here in my living room,, trying to conjure olfactory memory of seaweed, seabreeze...
A stronger smell comes to the fore:
Fylde farmers' manure spreading.
The nose has a fickle memory.
How ironic that I choose to remember what was compulsory.
I work a little to background the ambient sound in the room.
I have spent many years backgrounding, doodling, disappearing.
I suppose this is the most important skill that I developed at school.
I am to their purposes present.
I am to my purposes elsewhere.
"Learning management...ha, ha, bloody ha. Fuck you!"
I learnt to swear at school too...
They, I suppose, thought of that run in athletic terms, or perhaps social control terms.
"You need to tire out teenage boys, to keep them docile..."
I can hear the waves crashing on the parapet.
The salt stings your eyes.
I feel my skin tightening, my face reddening.
We can see no further than a few metres out into the deadening grey-brown.
"Come on let's wave-dodge."
"Quick, if we get caught, we're in for it."
We dive down the steps ,off the promenade, down onto the sea wall.
We eye up the distance to the next steps.
It looks about a hundred metres.
"Come on. Now."
We sprint along the wall, as close to the swirling fury as we dare.
We dare too much.
A large wave throws us off our feet.
For a moment we are swallowed up by its rush over the wall.
I hear a shout.
We are dumped just on the edge, soaked to the skin.
For a moment, just for a moment, we were free...
I wasn't sure about being so free...
I was shaken.
"Bloody hell, that was close."
"Did you see where we landed?"
There was terror when we saw the danger.
We got to the top of the steps.
I wonder if those other boysbecomemen think of that moment now, so many years on.
"I was bloody terrified when I saw the wave hit you."
"I thought: now we're in for it."
"What are we supposed to tell the sodding monitors?"
"They'll be furious if we tell them why you've bloody drowned."
On the shore.
I walked along the spring shore, treading over the pools.
Far from me, lost in her own thoughts, I saw my daughter heading towards the sea.
I heard the waves breaking from afar, I remembered stormier days.
Runs were compulsory.
Wave-dodging was freedom.