Thursday, 22 September 2005


High tide always scared the hell out of me. The stories I used to read as a kid, where the hero was in a cave and got trapped by the tide would leave me with my security eroded and my body alert for attack. The nights I read adventures like that I'd sleep with my head buried under the covers and the pillow, trying to stop water from seeping into my soul.

I don't know why I've never moved away from the sea. Considering my phobia, living in a place like Hallaton or Chelmorton might have made more sense. Little stone houses and patchwork fields cut with streams that have no tides. No highs and lows of salty danger invading my life twice each day.

But I've lived in Deal all of my days. On the beach. I can't count the number of days I've watched the waters come and go, in a never ending cycle linked to the moon. I've never learned what beasts lurk under that dark surface. I've never investigated a cave at low tide, or picnicked beside tidal pools teeming with interesting creatures. I've always given the tides a respectful distance.

And they have provided the same courtesy.

Last night on the news, another tidal surge was headed for Texas. People were packing their lives into their vehicles and heading for higher ground. I would join them. I would pack my photographs and my Japanese fighting fish and drive until I felt safe.

Safety has been a harsh mistress for me. She has lurked in my closets and read a book while I ventured toward my future. But will she always be my saviour? Or did I merely rack up points owed so that one day the sea can claim me?

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