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January 26, 2021 / catherinebwrites

HIGHLIGHTS 2020 – 9. TALKING TO STRANGERS

ONE OF THE JOYS OF THE PIER – TURNSTONES

One of the great joys of living in Bray is being able to get to the sea. Especially during Lockdown. The prom can be crowded with people walking their dogs and their children. Groups cluster round Gino’s Ice Cream shop. So, being of a cautious disposition, I prefer to take my exercise where it’s easier to keep the regulation two meters apart, in the harbour, on the short pier.

The first joy of the pier is the birds. Turnstones line the edge like they’re waiting for something to happen. The swans look serene on the water and a bit less serene waddling up the beach waiting for children to feed them. There’s a mixed flurry of wings when there’s something to eat in the water. There’s a lone goose. Does it think it’s a swan? Or just proving its independence?

The mixed flurry of wings

But birds are not known for their light conversation! An even greater delight is the joy of talking to strangers. At a distance of course.

The lone goose

At the end of the pier as you can see the occasional ship and remember that haunting line.

“sail the horizon with Wales lurking beyond, there’s often a man with his rod, casting a line in the hope of a fish. He might have his son by his side teaching him how to cast.

“Caught anything yet?” I ask.

If they have caught a fish, no matter how small, the son will proudly display it. Mostly they’ve caught nothing at all but they’re happy to chat for a bit.

One late afternoon on the pier greeted a man who replied, at length, by recounting his travels all over the world. I’ve done my fair share of travelling so I tried to engage. But I failed. He was hell bent on listing his umpteen destinations, every village in Asia and Africa that welcomed him in, the multifarious vehicles he’d travelled in. The chance to converse with a stranger in Lockdown is precious but, as the bitter east wind sneaked into my bones, I remembered advice I’d once read.

“If you ask a man five questions and he asks you none, it’s time to leave.”

I’d asked him many more questions than five. He’d asked me none. So I scarpered.

Not all of the strangers I spoke with were so self absorbed. One day I met a young man on a bike. One comment led to another. We discovered a lot in common and had one of those great conversations that leaves you feeling uplifted, remembering that, despite the darkness of these present times, there are good people here in the world. He turned out to be Tom Kerrisk, actor, poet, muscian, and singer with the band Mystic Tears.

He didn’t look like this with his bike on Bray pier!

Later I had a listen to Mystic Tears on You Tube. I loved it. Have a listen yourself. Here’s just one <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUfIvjNzjMA&gt; There’s loads more where that came from. Or check out his website <https://www.thomaskerrisk.com/&gt;

No photo description available.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUfIvjNzjMA

Another day a woman smiled at me and remarked on the weather. Before we knew it we were in deep conversation and, over the next half hour or so, discovered that we’d both been in India and Zambia . We swapped stories. We laughed. We discovered so much in common. It turned out that she was a nun. Nuns are like the rest of us, there’s the good the bad and very mixed-middling. She was one of the good ones, bright, open-minded, fun to be with and ready to take on adventure.

Nun, Christ, Cross, Religion, Christian
She wasn’t dressed like this!

When I was only four or five I remember my mother telling a neighbour that her daughter would talk to anyone at all, even the cat. She framed it as a complaint but, I knew from her voice that she wasn’t complaining. And I knew from the way she ruffled my hair that she was proud of my outgoing nature. It gave me permission to be as I was and I’ll always be grateful.

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2 Comments

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  1. John / Jan 27 2021 10:09 pm

    Love the goings in in bray such a nice way to put it down real sense of connection even during lockdown. Keep it up

    Like

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