I Would Rather Be Anywhere Else But Here
“What’s it do?”
“Well, you see that big glass bit near the top with a sort of circular balcony round it? Well, that lights up – just like a lighthouse does. Only this would have been floating in the sea; they used to put them in places where it was too tricky to build a lighthouse.”
I give him one of my Looks. I didn’t splash out £100 at Warehouse to stand here in a bitter wind listening to this crap.
“So it doesn’t actually work anymore?”
“Well, no. It’s just a museum piece, but I thought you might like to see it”.
I say nothing and turn on my heel. I hadn’t seen this coming. He’s quite good-looking – lovely blue eyes – doesn’t look like a clueless geek with all the social graces of Gordon Brown’s less charismatic younger brother. Appearances can be deceptive.
He follows me, sort of trotting along to catch up – and he looks almost pleading. He knows it’s not going well and he’s desperate to get things back on track.
“What do you fancy doing now?”
I want some chips. It’s freezing cold and I need to warm up. Plus I never go to the seaside without having some. But, of course, they don’t even have a chip shop in this dump. There’s just a rundown hotdog van that’s out of food and can only manage a coffee. I let him stump up for it. It’s the least he can do.
At least it’s good and hot. We sit on a low wall, looking out at the sea, very grey, with the bloody lightship bobbing around in the corner of our eyes. He tries to think of something to say while I’m wishing I’d brought gloves and wondering how long I can give it before I can leg it. When I hit the dregs of this coffee I reckon. It’s only been 12 minutes – the world’s shortest date?
He starts asking me if I’ve got brothers and sisters. Jesus. We go through the motions, passing dull questions back and forth. He looks all lit up when I’m giving my answers, as though me having an older sister and a little kid brother is the best thing he’s heard all year.
He tries to hold my hand so I get up and walk off, dumping my coffee cup as I go. He catches me up and gets himself slightly in front of me so I have to stop.
“Will you come on board with me and have a look?”
Oh Christ. He wants me to go on the lightship. He grabs my hand as I’m trying to think of a get out and tows me behind him onto the gangplank.
This couldn’t get much worse. It’s getting dark though so at least he can’t keep me out here much longer. I’ll just grit my teeth and get through it. Hopefully we’ll get home before one of us freezes to death.
We go up onto the deck; it’s even colder up here, there’s a real wind picking up and it tastes of salt. It’s so cold, he’s stopped prattling on, thank God, a very small comfort though as he’s now indicating that I should climb up a narrow metal ladder lashed to the side of the ship.
“You first.” I’m not having him climbing up behind me, getting a good view up my trenchcoat.
We climb this ladder and then another. There’s two more to go to make it to the top and I’ve had enough already but he’s started on the next. So I s’pose I have to go too – I’ve come this far.
We get right to the top at last – I’m never climbing a ladder in heels again and God knows how I’m going to get back down. As for the view, well, it’s very underwhelming. Just like him.
It’s misty, I can’t see very far, probably only about halfway across the bay. The sea looks brown and grim. I cross my arms and wait for him to finish gawping at the mist.
Without any warning, someone switches the massive light on, right under the platform we’re standing on. God, it’s brilliant! The light cuts through the fog and I can see for miles across the sea. And the light makes everything look soft-focus and the sea just seems to absolutely glow. And he’s put his arms around me while I’m transfixed by the light and now he’s kissing me and it’s…magical…