“It’s always the same when I go back to Cornwall”,Alfie said to himself,as the wind and and rain buffered his single man tent in the middle of the night.Rain always felt torrential in a tent though,as if he were about to be submerged in an avalanche of water droplets.This rather emotional reaction belied the fact that as Alfie got dressed,used the torch on his mobile phone,that the so called avalanche was more of a trickle compounded by the strong Atlantic wind.It was useless though to think that he was going to get much more sleep in this,because he wouldn’t.He knew that it was 4:15 in the morning,and he could guess from his tide times just how close he was to the hinterland that was the North coast.He felt safe there,even though he wasn’t a young man by any means,but he knew enough about the tides,and about himself,and he had his waterproofs at the ready and walked ,finding the coast path from his walk the previous day.
As he carefully progressed along the rugged terrain,his mind veered back to the times at his primary school when they were read stories.These periods,usually at the end of the day,were Alfie’s favourite times,and they were treasured memories of a rather troubled time at school for him.As reading and writing at the very least confused Alfie,story time offered up a whole new window into the imagination of the author without the tediumm of unlocking the structures of words and phrases that were confusing to Alfie.As Mrs Marsh would read a section from Jamaica Inn,by Daphne Du Maurier each day,he found himself living these characters set on Bodmin moor.Although he was probably well over 15 miles from the setting of the book,the wind and the rain and the general atmosphere,along with the semi darkness of this time,unlocked those memories and he felt good about it.Although he had subsequently read the book as an adult,he always felt drawn to the spoken word,and it was his preferred learning method.So,as he walked ,all be it slowly along the coast path,the sound of those words echoed as they were caught by the wind,as if superimposed on his life now to form a scene from a play.You see,Mrs Marsh was one of those teachers who could,by use of different voices,make any book come alive.Alfie wished that she was his mother,and with his sister Shiela becoming ill,he rather looked to her for guidance as a substitute for a lack of a proper mother figure at home.Now,Alfie knew that Mrs Marsh played the Piano for the school assembly,and because Alfie showed a flair for music in general,but especially for the piano,Alfie would often be asked to sit next to Mrs Marsh as she played incidental music when the children filed in and of a morning.Aflie was always so comfortable with music,be it in the form of raw sound,or written on manuscript,and this gift that he had both impressed Mrs Marsh on the one hand,and frustrated her on the other.You see,while Alfie showed such ability for music,that same amplitude wasn’t expressed for school work.In fact,at the age of say 8 going on 9,Alfie wasn’t really able to read at all. Mrs Marsh,and looking back,probably all his previous teachers had noted,Alfie struggled with all the first principles.As Alfie wasn’t party to any information about this,he jut thought that he was “stupid”,as the other children seemed to beable to grasp these concepts well enough to read aloud in class without any difficulty.
So starting with Mrs Marsh,there began a long line of teachers who would,in their own time,nutur Alfie to the point. Where he might begin to catch up with his peers.This situation was compounded by the fact that he was,in the next 2 years,to transfer to secondary modern school and then he would go from his local village primary to a very large school at Newquay.So starting from this time,Alfie would have the attention of Mrs Marsh on Friday evenings,and this support would prove invaluable to him not just personally,but as a major factor in moulding the sort of person that he would aspire to becoming.
Those Friday evenings at Mrs Marsh’s house meant that Alfie could bee given tuition,at no cost,in the basic educational principles,and these evenings would always conclude by her reading to him which he loved.Even now,he loved the sound of words spoken well,and he loved a beautiful voice,the timbre,texture,vibrato and ranges of pitch.Of course,Mrs Marsh had a Piano at home,and as Alfie was always invited to play,he duly obliged her as he knew that it gave her immense pleasure to listen to music.Those times were truly special to him and her giving attitude to teaching were to help shape his teaching in later life.
So,what for many might have seemed an unpleasant walk along a dark coast path with the Atlantic roaring,and the wind blowing up was really invigorating to Alfie.So invigorating that he had quite forgotten that Tricksy wasn’t enjoying the walk at all,and was craving to be held and allowed to rest,so he duly picked Tricksy up,and with a cuddle that said more about him than he might like to realise,he rested a while.
Now,the morning light at say 5:30 although faint,still allowed Alfie to check his ordinance survey map,and realise that his journey to Padstow should be manageable today.Now,as Alfie had very fond memories of Padstow and the times that he had spent there he wanted to savour these miles now,soaking up the atmosphere so to speak,and allowing these wonderful memories to come flooding back .
But first,the pangs of hunger were becoming too much for him,and a life time of addiction to chocolate wasn’t about to be sacrificed now for a drive into healthy eating avenue,no Alfie always had a selection on hand to ease these pangs.With the finger dexterity of Ashkenazy,Alfie unwrapped his Mars bar,and recited that well recited sound bite: “A Mars a day,helps you work,rest,and play”.Well,as Alfie would often add a little rejoinder to this phrase as follows:”A mats a day helps you work feat,and Play up”!!!