Saturday, 14 February 2009

Comic Relief No 5 - for Chris

The outward bound instructor surveyed the gathering of souls around him. He thought that one looked a little more on edge than the others. Physically, they matched his expectations all having donned a comfortable attire, a weathered face, possessing feet clad in seasoned walking boots. Standard stuff. Except that one. That one, whom, he could tell, wasn't paying attention now to his exposition of the current health and safety risks. He would have to speak to him privately later.

The teacher fingered the folded up piece of paper in his coat pocket. Aside from biscuit crumbs and an empty cellophane wrapper, there was also a biro. He hoped that it still worked, that the crumbs hadn't clogged up the ballpoint. It gave him a secret sense of security outside of the classroom. He couldn't risk taking the paper out now, it would be considered odd. He would check it in private later. If there was a later.

The boy's father was worried about his son. He shouldn't have brought him on this foolish trip. Should have listened to his wife, taken a proper weekend away. Somewhere like Chichester where they could all enjoy themselves together, she'd said. She could wander around the cathedral, visit the theatre and then on the Sunday they could have gone to the Harbour. But he never went for the safe option and now here they were miles apart. Like this.

The writer was feeling on edge. He wasn't really here for the outdoors experience as such, more as an observer but then again, his existence depended upon that. Always on the outside then on the inside but never quite fully engaging with his subject. But this wasn't the moment for beautiful prose or poetic descriptions of the Welsh wilderness or indeed any form of introspection, come to that. He should pull himself together. He looked down into the icy water. He marvelled at the depth, the layers of the non-colours, all distinct, solid yet fluid. Yes, it was the movement of the water that was hard to capture in words. The bubbles, the foam on the surface; they were the defining features of what was going on underneath, of what the conditions were really like in the body of water.

One canoe, that was all the rapids had left behind. One canoe, one boy and an ensemble of characters who should have been a strong and united force just like the rapids but instead, were a feeble trickle of drips being blown indiscriminately by the slightest whim of the breeze over a fragile shield of glass. The boy looked at them. Unnoticed, he climbed down the bank and into the remaining canoe. It rocked precariously as he eased himself in and pushed off with the paddle. He turned back to look at the spot he had just left. There was one man staring back at him.

He might have expected a crowd as it seemed to him that adults made things overcomplicated, made themselves overcomplicated. Why couldn't they just be? Why couldn't they understand that sometimes, sometimes, you've just got to get into your canoe and paddle?

No comments: