Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
(← home page for Beyond Land's End Dispatches)
2006.09.15 : Goodbye and Hello
More St Ives Goodness

Well, you guessed it – it was another totally glorious morning on the hill overlooking the bay, and we were up at half-7. I showered while Tim packed up (sniff); and we both headed down the hill for a farewell breakfast at the cafe. (The other two understandably chose the sleep-in-languourously-in-cosy-B&B option versus the drag-their-arses-up-and-see-Tim-off option.)

One of the Yellow Canary counter girls (the one I fancied, I think – the bookish one, naturally) brought me a soya mocha with foam in the shape of a heart. Both Tim and I figured that settled what I'd be doing tonight after they left. (*)

Anyway, other than that pleasant note, I don't recall specifically what Tim and I talked about – but I think major themes were 'Really great trip' and 'Really glad you came along/asked me along' and 'Seriously, I'd travel with you anytime' and a bit of bittersweet that this time of our lives was now over. Endings, any kind of endings, are always at least a little sad.

After seeing Tim off in the direction of the station, I ambled around the dockside a bit, and sat on the water in the brilliant, early, slanting sunlight – and read, rather distractedly, my volume of Betjeman.

I was lounging on some sun-splashed dockside pilings when I got a call from Charles – they were presently sitting on the upstairs balcony of a waterside cafe, actually within sight of (and overlooking) my spot. As I levered myself up, I thought how such small towns are so absurdly manageable. And as they had a couple of hours before their train, we decided to do a bit of a tour of some of the smaller art galleries.

We began (and nearly ended) at the Robin Pickering Gallery. There was some great stuff on view; and we had what I thought was rather a literate discussion amongst ourselves, and with the gallery attendent person – about influences we saw, what he was doing with light, locations, departures in style from one wall to another. Etc. When we had just wrapped up, the artist himself came in. He was very nice, and very unassuming.

I think either he had a painting of St. Michael's Mount, or he just found out I was carrying on around the coast to St. Michael's Mount, because he mentioned he had been there. I asked when. He said: the day Diana died. He remembered that he had to drive from Cornwall to Kent; on the upside, the motorways were completely empty – on the downside, so were the petrol stations. All closed; he was obliged to make it on a single tank. I mentioned that I run in Kensington Gardens a lot, and I always know twice a year, when it's Diana's birthday, and the anniverary of her death – the front gate of Kensington Palace is covered with flowers. ("Oh, is it August already?") Charles tried this one on: "What's the difference between a Mercedes and a Skoda? Diana wouldn't have been seen dead in a Skoda."

Finally we ambled toward a taxi stand – Charles and Meeyoung laden with the eight head-sized pasties they'd picked up to take home, plus fudge, plus marmalade – and into a taxi, and off to the station at the next town over, and onto their train, and back to London, and back to their lives, and our time together over. "Go well, friends," we said.

And so I was alone for the moment. I decided to amble around town, checking out some of the bits I hadn't seen – specifically the northern-most bit, behind the old town. I managed quickly to get surprisingly and frustratingly lost. It was just then that Paul and Nicole rang – they were just outside of town. Yip. While trying quickly to unlose myself so I could meet them, I passed this strange outdoor play-like thing, where the pictured gentleman, I swear, told an entire long story where every single word (not every vowel, or big word – every single word) began with 'A'. By the time I left, he had segued into B, but I couldn't say how long this went on . . .

After a small bit of comedy-of-errors-style mobile-phone-based telemetry around the waterfront, we hooked up – and, just like that, the third shift had come smoothly on. I thought how very well indeed this was all working out. Paul and Nicole being Paul and, particularly, Nicole, they were ready for food after the long drive, so I took them without delay to the dedicated pasty joint, and we grabbed head-sized pasties, and repaired to the self-same piling where my late companions and I had lunched after yesterday's walk. I then walked them by their B&B – the location of which I knew well, as it had also been Charles and Son's B&B – got them checked in, and then we naturally repaired to the beachside patio for tea. (Or was it beer? I forget. In any case, I was really starting to feel like a local.)

We all sensibly agreed to take siesta from 4-6 (they were a bit knackered from the journey). My first thought was to hit the tent – but then I thought: Why do the trek all the way up to the camp site, when I've got a perfectly good beach to nap on? While I was drifting in out, these two horse-riders raced up and down the beach.

Get the Flash Player to see this movie.

We met back up at the Queen's Head to get on with the serious business of drinking, not to mention playing pool. After surrendering the table to those more qualified, we took a seat and, I guess, started chatting about things we were going to do when we got back. (Or, most likely, I was starting to wax rhapsodic about what I was going to do when I got back.)
Me: "I think I'm going to try and start a monthly Scrabble Night."
Nicole: "Sometimes pubs have board games, actually."
[that second, my eye flashes across the room to the fireplace mantel; my finger stabs out]
Me: "Scrabble!"

From there, it was to dinner at – you guessed it – the same seafood joint. I had the same stuffed peppers they'd made me the night before, and they were even better the second time. It was a lovely evening, I think, and very good fun. Paul and Nicole make for awfully congenial company.

And then I stumbled home: through the cobbled streets of the old town, down the waterfront, past the closed-but-prettily-lit Tate Gallery – and, finally, up the long hill. And then I slept alone in the tent for the first time. Lots of elbow room. But lonely. And, also, just a little bit spooky.

Tomorrow: A Few Miles Walking Out Toward Zennor, And Then Back On In Again; Goodbye To Paul And Nicole; And Hello Solo Walking
Anyone know the feeling you get when you've been living it rough with limited clothes (music festivals are another good example) and yeah you hand wash but it's not the same and basically your normal hygiene standards go a bit out of the window (and it's ok cos it's the same for the people you are with) - then at the end you do something like - oh I don't know get a train home on your own and realise actually everyone probably thinks you smell - cos err.. you do! Anyway bye all - thanks for reading! And thanks to Michael for the top top write up! No one could do it better. Tip to readers - if you want what is practically a book written about you by a genuine published author - just go on a walk with Michael! (*)         (hide)
I think you need to add a line or two about playing Scrabble in the Queen's Head and also something about the order of the results.         (hide)
Paul just wants to make it clear that he beat me at Scrabble.         (hide)

  art     camping     cornwall coast path     drinking     food     mates     photography     travel  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

my latest book
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple by Michael Stephen Fuchs
from email:

to email(s) (separate w/commas):
By subscribing to Dispatch from the Razor’s Edge, you will receive occasional alerts about new dispatches. Your address is totally safe with us. You can unsubscribe at any time. All the cool kids are doing it.