The morning mist had descended on the “Great Western Beach”,as my eye were telling me.To the right,Tolcarne was a picture in my memory,it was visible to me on that day.My ears were deafened by the breaking Atlantic waves,tossed and turned by the raging gale.Its anger-as that is the most appropriate word-worried me on one level,but excited me on another.
My reaction wasn’t on that day to retreat to the safety of the mount,it was to walk towards the waves.My teenage arrogance,my puberty trauma,call it what you will,just drew me to the sound.That density,that defiance of sonic gravity pinned my ears to the frequency,that howl,that screaming ,that abundance of force,it just drew me in.From what appeared to be an age,I was transfixed,as wave upon wave crashed in to the shore,battering the innocent beach huts,with their discarded parafinailia from the summer season to the 4 ends of the earth.
Members of my family had described Atlantic storms ,and the sheer terror that the sea could throw up,but their tales were dismissed by my teenage ego,my arrogance of thinking that I know best.Now,and only now,I knew just what they had meant,as whole rocks,minutes before that were totally visible ,now became submerged in wages that I had never seen before.As I struggled to stay upright ,holding on to a ledge that was precarious and slippered ,I listened,and waited for the storm to abate.
Time in that afternoon seemed to be dynamic,as if I were running the 100 metres,it was a memory that would have an affect on how I would navigate life.At that time,I made a pact with myself that if I could survive that storm,then I could survive anything.Well,I survived,I didn’t get swept into the sea,I had taken a risk,a huge risk,but on that afternoon ,I had witnessed an Atlantic storm,heard its roar,been paralysed by its anger,but,as they say in the West Country,I had “Lived to tell the tale”.
My walk back up the hill at great western aroused in me a sense of awe,not that I was special,but that I had felt something,a whole palette of emotions.Its one thing to talk abut things,and we are all apt to talk about doing something,but it’s another thing to make a choice to actually see something,feel something greater than you,bigger than you,stronger than you,more wonderful than you.
On the bus home to my dreary council house,on my dreary estate,I vowed that I would always ,if at all possible ,feel inspired by the sea,and I think that I have.
That storm ,on that day,has been followed by many others along the North Cornish coast,it certainly wasn’t the worse ever,but it’s the one that i can tell you about,because I was there,and it’s sound was edged on my memory.
It would be a few years until my ears would be assaulted in a sonic attack in any way that approached that day.That occurred in a concert hall in the 1970s,the Orcherstra with the Berlin Phil,and the conductor was Herbert Bon Karajan,and the work was the symphony number 5 in C Minor.When his baton went down the that wonderful Orcherstra played that first figure,why I was taken back to that day,that sea,that storm,that sonic wave attack,that blissful feeling of being outside and alive.