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Observations from a Pair of Moving Legs

esplanade

This story is from the change of millennium when old mate Bob and I used to run early mornings along the Glenelg South esplanade. There’s surprising stuff happening by the beach at dawn.

*

It is like facing up to an appointment with the dentist. You know that it is going to hurt, that you will make some alarming gurgling sounds and that when it is finished, you will try, with ample humiliation, to spit.

Friday. Dawn. Moseley Square. I twist and fold in a feeble attempt to prepare. Peering into the dark space of the Grand’s Pier and Pines bar, I see a lone cleaner vacuuming away the last scraps of yesterday’s conversation. “Let’s do this,” urges Bob- my accomplice.

With a beep my stopwatch is blinking and running and so are we!

At 6am the Esplanade is two babbling streams of people and dogs: one flowing toward Brighton and the other; lazily at the Patawalonga. We surge southward and a dribbling hound lumbers into my lane and then across to a yawning pine. He autographs it with the shamelessness of a footballer on an end-of-season trip.

On the horizon a tanker drags itself noiselessly toward the refinery. The breeze is crisp. A lanky teenager shuffles plastic tables outside the Broadway café, his black beanie pulled so low that some could suspect him of arranging a bank robbery for mid-morning. I spot a Chupa-chup poking jauntily from his jaw and relax, pleased that he is unlikely to feature on tonight’s TV news. He nods, “G’day boys.” We nod back.

Knots of chatty walkers drink up the seaside zest and provide welcome entertainment. It’s like spinning a radio dial across endless talkback stations- and not without intrigue. A Reality-TV producer (still in plague numbers) could comfortably fashion a dozen gripping episodes from the random snippets we steal each morning. Ambling into Somerton Park I catch:

“…but you’ll never guess,” (an elderly gent to his grandson) “he made the putt!”

“I told Doreen that there-is-NO-WAY-I’m-going.”

“So, do you think his wife knows?”

And a boisterous woman in a pink tracksuit gives her arteries some extra traffic by broadcasting, “and that bloody plumber still wanted to charge me!”

My stopwatch offers no quirky grabs. It only rudely demands acceleration. The yacht club sails toward us. Finally halfway, we anchor and embrace our minute’s rest. “A visit to the dentist’s is less painful,” I splutter, hands on hips- hungry for air.

Bob wheezes, “At least you get plenty of oxygen in the chair.” His hair is stuck firm to his head. We devour the sixty seconds, then turn, resolved, homeward bound. The wind, previously an ally, is now aggressive. I immediately feel I’m towing an old wooden bar fridge. An old wooden bar fridge bulging with brown rows of Coopers Stout.

The Esplanade’s skyline changes constantly. Majestic villas bravely protest the spread of Tuscan packing crates. A developer’s billboard stands loud among the concrete and the mesh of a building site. “Hurry! Only ONE left,” it screams impatiently.

“Now that’s optimism,” snorts Bob. This anorexic block is apparently destined to feature all of two yellow townhouses.

A cheery clot of ruddy sixty-somethings is caught by their chain of cars on a rise. T-shirts cling and drip and they chat brightly in the golden light of the sunrise as only the retired can. A champagne cork, sorry- Australian Sparkling Wine cork cuts an arc across the footpath like a failed firework. Each gent tips a crystal flute into which the hissing fizz is energetically spilled. “What’s the occasion boys?” I ask.

“Friday,” celebrates one of this chirpy clan as he hoists his breakfast drink. A gesture of sweaty fellowship.

“Amen,” I return.

“That will be us in thirty years Mickey,” puffs Bob.

“The cheapest champagne will be a hundred bucks a bottle by then.”

“Plus twenty five per cent GST.” But Bob is given to political alarm.

Pushing on towards the Broadway, we abandon our role models to their refreshments and their broad, leisurely days.

The stopwatch sternly announces that a scant two minutes stand between us and our best time of the summer. The Grand’s sandcastle shapes loom and I try to push myself quicker. “No,” my legs scream. I know deep in my soul that a root canal treatment is better than this.

“Listen legs,” I assert, “do as you are told. And stop talking. You can’t speak. This is not a Douglas Adams’ novel!”

Our finishing line (in many senses of the phrase) swims into happy view. I glance at my now completely despised watch. The Town Hall clock frowns down at us like a disappointed Senior Colts football coach. Again I spy the wandering hound, eagerly leaving his name on a sullen lamppost.

Swerving around some swaying walkers gobbles critical seconds.

“Eleven dollars for O-Rings! What’s the hell is an O-Ring?”

It’s the pink tracksuit, still expounding on the Secret Horrors of Dishwasher Repairs.

We make a desperate, final lunge- and are outside our target time. It was, however, another vigorous run and my pounding pulse is electric and exhilarating. We savour our slow cool down on the bumpy lawn that separates the Norfolk Island Pines from the sloping sands. After, easing along the veranda of the Grand, Bob inquires, “See you and Kerry in here for a beer tonight?”

“Magnificent idea,” I agree.

Yes, it is the weekend. The glorious escape. Promise and anticipation.

Our next dental appointment is not until Monday.

 

running

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Belle and Sebastian: The State I’m In

 

B and S

 

The opening track on Belle and Sebastian’s  debut album Tigermilk is “The State I’m In” and this vignette hosts some memorable characters. I first really listened to it on Karon Beach in Thailand, and often played it walking around Singapore beneath her towering skyscape. The jangling, Byrds-like guitar adds to its sunny glow.

The initial verse contains remarkable personal and family detail, and insight into our narrator’s psychological condition. “The State I’m In” utilises language in clever and complex ways to create vivid characters. The first line’s hyperbole offers humorous, arresting insight into our narrator.

I was surprised, I was happy for a day in 1975

I was puzzled by a dream, stayed with me all day in 1995

These simple, matter-of-fact, year-specific declarations engage the audience by provoking many questions, and the revelations continue through the following verse

I got married in a rush to save a kid from being deported

Now she’s in love

With this we learn that he’s compassionate, and even self-sacrificial, but then wonder who the girl’s now in love with: is it our narrator, or another? He then recounts another relationship in which he has been vulnerable: that with the priest whom takes his admissions, breaks confidentiality and the Seal of the Confessional, and turns these into art

He took all of my sins and he wrote a pocket novel called

“The State I Am In”

By the finish of the opening stanza’s confessional intimacy we’ve learnt of the family’s dynamics, challenges and history courtesy

He stood up with a sailor friend

Made it known upon my sister’s wedding day

We then hear the final affront where his highest authority hesitates before belatedly accepting our narrator; no wonder he’s in a despondent state

So I gave myself to God

There was a pregnant pause before he said ok

His self-loathing finds pathetic and final expression in the song’s last verse

            Now I’m feeling dangerous, riding on city buses for a hobby is sad

The language used in the lyrics is deceptively simplistic, but depicts vivid characters.

With this complex domestic context established our protagonist, or possibly antagonist, reveals in a striking act that shocks

I was so touched, I was moved to kick the crutches

From my crippled friend

Is this truth, or is it a comedic device; a strange metaphor? Certainly its oxymoronic nature invites deeper thought. Should we be horrified, amused, or both? Subsequently the narrator confesses this act of violence, and events take another unexpected turn with the priest acting immorally.

We find dark humour in the idea that a religious figure would steal a story and publicise it in a novel. Little wonder that our main character is disturbed! With this development the song title is invested with wicked irony that generates sympathy.

This powerful vignette catalogues key moments in the narrator’s life as he seeks purpose and meaning. The final image offers a positive picture of one, troubled as he is, wanting to do earthly good. There’s poignant use of circularity with the repetition of previous detail

Lead me to a living end

I promised that I’d entertain my crippled friend

My crippled friend

Expertly using first person perspective, the lyricist provides understated descriptions to provoke us, and our reactions encompass the witty, the sad, and the frightening. Belle and Sebastian have created some vivid characters, and this song invites deep contemplation.

 

karon

6

Cooler than a robot, older than the wolf

beach

The endless swimming was a highlight of our three years in Singapore. On some Saturdays, we’d be in and out of the condominium pool four times. At dawn, when the boys and I’d occasionally happen upon whispering Japanese couples rounding out their evening with a bottle of breakfast Shiraz. Then we’d also dive in around midday, and driven by heat and claustrophobia, twice during the sultry afternoon. It was a theme park and often for us, an escape.

Early during our other-hemispherical stint, we were in the water, and I was talking with you about your birthday. I said, “How’s things now that you’re three? How’re you different?” Of course, your answer was instant, and assured. You replied, saying you were now, “Cooler than a robot, older than the wolf.” Not any wolf, mind you, but the wolf. I’d long suspected that you’ve a capacity for language, an opulent and striking relationship with words. Splashing about that muggy day, confirmed it.

Only a few months ago, and back in Australia, there was this domestic exchange. “Max, will you stop being so ridiculous?” It’s a word that’s vigorously employed from time to time in our house. But only as required. Ridiculous. You announced, “Mum, you’re ridiculous!” to which she said, “You can’t even spell ‘ridiculous!’” With sparkling comic timing, your retort came. “Yes. I can. M-U-M.” This talent, while sometimes maddening, might carry you far. It’s a gift.

A counterpoint to this linguistic skill is your love for engaging with the physical world. Moving like an inexhaustible machine, you explore, you probe, you pull stuff to bits. Inspired by curiosity, and bursting with a hearty sense of industry, you help me with jobs about the house. These are the moments.

One of my favourite things is when our world shrinks and shrinks, and it’s just you and I on a Saturday morning. A little backyard militia, we mow, and with a cutting wheel, we edge the lawns. All the while you question, encourage, engage. We sometimes visit the recycling depot, and lastly as a tiny reward, we pop by the Anzac Highway TAB, where in joyous imitation, you illustrate your fan of betting slips, resulting in financial return at least equal to mine.

It’s a routine that drapes exquisite meaning over these weekends. In a life often too complex, this fetching simplicity refreshes me like an oasis. We don’t often sit still on the lounge and chat, instead conversing while in motion. The car. With heaving backpacks, walking to and from school. Out the back, as Sunday shadows lengthen, playing cricket.

Last Easter, we wandered down to Glenelg Oval for the Sheffield Shield final. Strolling southwards, chatting; the breeze, the bent rays of autumnal sunshine. I love listening to your brotherly conversations, as these dance and hang in the air like bubbles.

*

If I close my eyes I can see a silent movie of flickering highlights, and these tumble about me, like rain.

You’re riding madly round the Old Gum Tree Park, with your feet dangling high above the pedals, and look, they’re now up on the handlebars as you wizz by in a mischievous blonde rush.

Lying under the patio, just after a December dawn, with summer’s heat already heavy in the sky, you’re hugging our new dog, Buddy and you’re talking to him like an equal, as if he’s a little brother. And, he is.

We’re on a Thai beach, and in a cocoon of pure, insubstantial now, you’re jumping like a kangaroo and laughing in the gently frothing waves. I barely believe we’re here.

Finally, you’re in bed, and I creep into your room, but there’s a thin shaft of light. Inspired by the nocturnal habit of Alex, you’re in your bunk, on your belly, immersed by a book, reading with a torch. This makes me happy.

Now exhausted, you finish your story, surrendering to our will, and within moments, you slide down into an irresistible sleep. You’ve interrogated your world, so delightfully, so energetically, across the long hours of the arching day that instantly, almost impossibly, you’re still.

You are now six, and will always be cooler than a robot, and older than the wolf. Max, we love you. Play on.

lawn mowing

3

Ringo Appointed Caddy to Tiger Woods: Adventures in Morroco and Portugal

marrakesh

‘How do you like my new Fes?’ asks Jerry patting the hat on his melon. Only forty Dirham and he’s grinning like a shot fox. A dozen of us collect closely. We’re in the Medina or old city and New Jersey Jerry; ever-blaring, ever-egotistic and forty-something is taking pleasure from the tasselled headdress- and his own voice. ‘Yes, Jerry it’s great,’ we chorus. Absalom is our guide. Wearing his Muslim robes elegantly, and with snowy hair and trimmed beard he looks alarmingly like Kenny Rogers. He silences the Gatlin boy with, ‘Yes Jerry, it suits you perfectly.’ Through the dust and noise we lean nearer. ‘You are wearing the Fes of a young boy. Recently circumcised.’

With 350,000 people, 10,000 indistinguishable streets and 320 Mosques, the Medina is astonishing. Reaching its zenith in the 13th–14th centuries, the medieval monuments, madrasas (schools), fondouks (hotels), palaces, markets, residences and fountains are utterly engaging. About half the size of an Australian suburb, UNESCO declared it a World Monument in 1981. By morning’s end I am drained by the unbroken attack on my eyes and nose, ears and brain.

Attempting to engage me, one impish boy chirped, ‘Hello mister.’ I ignored him. ‘Hola. Bonjour,’ he continued. ‘Ciao. GutenTag. Aloha. Konnichiwa.’ I laughed. Konnichiwa. In a particular light I guess I appear Japanese. He reminded me of the carpet-seller in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar who, sensing I’d rejected every rug- buying opportunity, edged up to me and smirked, ‘Is it now time to talk about carpet?’

In Marrakech we’re steered into an apothecaries’ souk or pharmaceutical market. Spices, roots and aromatic plants for cooking, magic and pills cram the shelving in kaleidoscopic chains of little jars. The apothecary talks about the local herbs and their various uses. We enjoy listening but of course should have known what was coming. The lecture concludes, a corps of zipping assistants gives everyone a plastic bag and the Big Sell begins.

The apothecary repeats his catalogue whilst the helpers briskly dispense the concoctions. Our entourage includes Americans, Dutch and New Zealanders of every age and attitude and twenty minutes later not a medical secret remains amongst us. ‘These jars contain a potion to combat abdominal dryness,’ he announces and up fly some hands, their owners eager to spend and lubricate. Enchanted containers are urgently thrust at the grateful. He hollers, ‘Next is the haemorrhoid relief cream!’ More hands. ‘Who’d like the Moroccan herbal Viagra?’ I sit tighter on my palms. Never have I become so unintentionally informed about the private rashes, oozings and inflammations of strangers. It was like a nutrimetics party but without the collapsing paper plates of sausage rolls.

Beasts current and cooked, domesticated and dangerous were a mesmerizing aspect of our trip. The Jemaa el Fna or Place of the Dead is the gigantic square in Marrakech which functions as an al fresco circus. Street performers compete for our coins with yelling shoe-shiners and insistent henna tattooists whilst loops of snake charmers rhythmically sway with their hooded cobras. Given that she’s a biology teacher I selflessly sent Kerry among the reptiles as I captured photos and videos from an artistic distance.

And suddenly a snake was writhing around my neck and a lithe wrangler rubbed its anaconda-like girth against my forehead. ‘It is good for fertility,’ he declared. I squeaked, ‘Mine or the snake’s?’

Monkeys (few self-pleasuring!) sprung about the teeming square too whilst stalls groaned with meats and dishes of arresting aromas. Curiously wry rows of boiled camel-heads were Plat du jour but disappointingly we’ve been off them lately. Rooster idolatry is popular on Portuguese china, shirts, towels, hats; indeed everything! Heading along the Atlantic coast road from Tangiers I glanced down to the sundrenched shore and what did I spy? A jaunty row of trotting chickens! Have you ever seen wild hens pushing into the breeze, bouncing along the sand? It was so unexpected yet so childishly familiar and funny that it became an African highlight. Beach chooks! Even now I can see my documentary advertised in the TV guide-

BBC 2- Sunday 8pm

Moroccan Odyssey

Tonight Mikey Randall goes in search

of Tangier’s mystical beach chickens.

(50 minutes)

Despite the coach being guarded whilst we slept in our Tangier hotel (up the esplanade from Celine Dion Café; your heartburn will go on) it occurs at midnight. We are oblivious. From our giant ferry we witness customs police beating and kicking would-be illegal immigrants. They hide down by the waterline- frantic to flee Africa’s poverty for the nirvana that is Europe.

A rolling Atlantic swell surrenders to Gibraltar’s gentler waters. Then in Spain we drive a hundred Andalucian miles and alight at a restaurant whilst Juao, our Portuguese driver, re-fuels. He hears a noise from under the bus. Two continents and an ocean later, a small stowaway escapes; having clung perilously to the undercarriage for fourteen dark hours. He slides into the countryside like a phantom.

The jagged rush of surprises makes travelling addictive. Toledo, indeed, is quite holy and El Greco’s 1586 masterpiece, The Burial of the Count Orgaz adorns a wall within the modest Church of San Tomé. The painting is marvellous but it is also startling that we could saunter in and admire a magnum opus without a wardrobe-sized guard pointing his Uzi at us. If it were displayed in a London or Paris gallery I’d probably shave three times getting to the ticket window.

It was curious to feel homesick in Morocco with its mosques and confronting hardship and intoxicating town markets. Introduced from Australia last century, Eucalyptus trees appeared like old friends and combined with the sparse terrain to suggest the River Murray landscape back in South Australia. I love being amazed when travelling.

I had few expectations for the Portuguese capital but found it wonderful. Prior to visiting Europe my favourite world city was San Francisco and Lisbon often reminded me of its hilly charms and marine vistas. Two colossal structures cross the glimmering Tagus River; the Ponte 25 de Abril commemorates the 1974 Revolution and is strikingly like the Golden Gate; the planet’s most fetching suspension bridge. At over seventeen kilometres; we entered Lisbon on Ponte Vasco da Gama, Europe’s largest and probably the biggest bastard of a bridge that I’ll experience.

In an age when Barcelona, Kuala Lumpur and Florence are serviced by airports hours from their CBD it is remarkable that Lisbon’s is downtown; reflecting that last century the metropolis grew exponentially. The equivalent of Heathrow being in Hyde Park; it was compelling and somewhat menacing- post 9/11 to watch planes climbing and landing near skyscrapers. We loved wandering about historic Alfama and seeing the mighty Monument to the Discoveries before learning that although the world is a village chip-shop one should never order Italian dishes in a Portuguese Indian restaurant.

Seville burst into my Top Ten with a bullet and is illustrious for much; orange-trees lining the charming boulevards, the resting place of Columbus and of course, bullfighting. During summer the Sevillians stroll past the cigar factory immortalised in Carmen to the Plaza del Toros de la Real Maestranza and given that it nudged 54 degrees in August 2003 some sip Cruzcampo beer!

Many stories are relayed of brave bulls. An ancient matador told me the obscure tale of an old bull and a young bull. One lazy afternoon they were gazing down at a field of attractive heifers. The young bull shouts, ‘Let’s run down and shag a few cows!’ The old bull quietly replies, ‘No. Let’s walk down and do the lot.’

True.

Michael and Kerry

January 2005

 CD

0

Singapore and Me

laneway

The captain is a one-armed dwarf

He’s throwing dice along the wharf

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King

So take this ring

“Singapore” by Tom Waits

This island is a photocopier.

Delivered and installed on a Monday, everyone gathers around in an uncomfortable semi-circle. However, the collating, duplexing, and high-end printing means we’re swiftly smitten. We ooh and aah. Then, the boss has a turn. Attempting a scan/sort/staple/wrong ‘un he messes it up spectacularly.

They’re technologically exciting, doing whizzy things beyond the boundaries of your competence but, do you know what? You can’t love them. And photocopiers, I’ve discovered, don’t love you back. Ever.

Within weeks, the most frightening phrase in English will blink onto the condescending screen.

Add toner

Then, the phantom paper jams start.

I admire Singapore, but leave not having fallen in love. And it’s sad to not fall in love, because it’s the only place I’ve lived that’s not grabbed my full affection. Maybe in time it will. I know you shouldn’t compare siblings, but as our ferry bumped into the dock in Dover, I fell for England.

*

Koh Lanta has the best beach I’ve seen. Long Beach. Flying into Krabi, it took nearly three hours to get there, but was worth it. When you go to a travel agency, take a booklet from the shelf, and gaze at the aquamarine ocean, flawless sand, and Thai beach resort, it’s Koh Lanta that you’re staring at.

We were there in March, and every day I was on a lounge bed, with book and beer, gazing out at the shimmering water as our boys played by the gentle gulf. These are golden moments, and I know they’re as good as it gets. I know how lucky I am.

Then, I thought about the fragility of beauty, and how infinitesimal our lives might be.

*

Our boys began Auskick in Singapore. Suddenly, they were there, flopping about in their green and gold Sharks guersneys. Of course, the best, most instructive moments as a parent are those when you spy on your kids.

Yes, they’re frequently appalling in your company, but maybe that’s the key function of the family. It’s the moments that we strive for; when you see them, getting it right, with nobody looking. We enjoy those.

I was umpiring the adjacent game, and glanced over at the boys. In a wonderful, painterly scene they were holding hands. I was instantly teary. When I looked back a few minutes later Alex and Max were entirely indifferent to the crazy arc of the ball, and wrestling each other. And the next time Alex was on the ground chatting with his opponent, while Max had wandered off. He was putting an orange cone onto his head, as if Grand Master of a peculiar branch of the KKK.

*

Like denying Warney cheese slices, living with two boys (and a wife and a helper) in a small apartment is cruel. It just is. Sometimes, we can’t adjust to our domestic environments.

I now want harsh light, and space, and private greenery. I want to rush the boys out the back door, and to wheel my own bin out into the quiet Thursday street.

Here in Singapore we swim daily, but are drowning in an obscenely overpriced jail cell. Now, the door’s open, and my harmonica’s in my back pocket. Pssst. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m anticipating my lawn back home as much as anyone.

*

A Tim Winton enthusiast since university I bought Eyrie when home eighteen months back.

I read his words hungrily. The protagonist, Tom Keely, is archetypal of the author’s males: in an emotional crisis of his own invention, and scrabbling destructively within his relationships. For me it was significant when Keely considered reaching out to his sister, living in Singapore.

Singapore. The word zapped me. How exciting. Singapore. Frisson. Terrific that she lives in the Republic. What a plucky and daring soul.

Then, the bizarrely delayed realisation.

Wait a minute. I live there! We’re brave too. Despite the tropical location isn’t this just the dreary triangle of home, work, shops. Home, work, shops? Adelaidean suburbia, but hot and humid? Only if we let it.

Why is it that our lives occasionally read better on paper than in their practical expression?

There’s something incendiary in Winton’s single word that burnt me, and gave me some gruff underage footy coaching. Periodically, we all need some third person perspective.

*

At the Meadow within Gardens by the Bay, in the sizzling sun, with Marina Bay Sands soaring over us, we stretch out on our blanket with Heineken pints, squinting, and drinking in Vance Joy’s sunny pop.

Music festivals can remind you, somewhat savagely, of the youth that has now sprinted past you. But, the Laneway Festival in Singapore is among my highlights. Off we went. Each January.

Thirty years ago we’d be thirty foot under water, but the land reclamation here is mind-blowing. The Raffles Hotel on Beach Street is now downtown and not seaside. The home of the Sling has been slung inland.

The Laneway Festival is Australian, reaffirming, and vital. The wife pats me on the knee, and says, you know, this is not a bad life.

And it’s not.

*

Once taken, Europe’s an incurable drug. It’d been nine years since we climbed off Heathrow’s tarmac, and we’d often talked of the first country we’d take our boys. Italy? Greece? Spain?

So, on a Saturday just before Christmas, we left Asia, stopped during the afternoon in North Africa, and then arrived in Europe that night.

I love that I’m still a country kid who finds astonishment in this. Munich, and sleet slashed across the autobahn, battering our taxi. One day. Three continents, three time zones, three airline bread rolls.

I’m grateful that life in Singapore made this possible.

*

Our world shrinks, and shrinks.

I remember the half hour journey from Kapunda to Robertstown for boyhood football, standing huge and preternaturally hairy man-childs, and cold showers and colder pasties. It was to venture to the edge of the world.

But now, clinging to the equator ahead of my departure I see how small the infinite country of Australia is.

Many argue nostalgia’s the memory of childhood food. Today my mind’s swirling with images of Mum’s sausage rolls, tuna mornay topped with cheese, and plastic cups of Bobo cordial.

It’s time to go home.

BoBo

6

The Wedding Photo

beach wedding

In England on our first, second and third wedding anniversaries I would especially think of this photograph. It didn’t make the trip with us, and sat in a dusty box back home. Amongst other emotions, I felt homesick because the setting, people and home it evoked, were half a world away.

In St Albans I told friends about this photo, describing it as well as I could, but only receiving vague, empty nods in return. Reflecting on the many months that this photo and I were apart, I can see now, it was the relic, the symbol I most missed.

It is early morning when this picture was taken and the beach is fresh and gorgeous. The sky is innermost in this. Distinctly Australian; it is a soaring blue cathedral swept by wisps of cirrus. It is our private Sistine Chapel. These clouds release upward, their white curls; fragile, yet vast and unhurried.

Unlike those of Europe or other teeming and tired places, these kindly vapors are friendly, and promising. And they are painted across a blue; a majestic, profound blue, washing over us with colours not seen in the Mediterranean in centuries. How could we have abandoned this sky for England‘s leaden, crushing ceiling?

I’m standing opposite you on the beach, dried seaweed lying around me. The wedding suit black contrasts with our surroundings on this vivid October morning. Leaning forward, I’m poised, hands ready. My focus is entire, there’s nothing else in my world.

And now, of course, to you.

You are the picture within a picture. Beyond a Venetian sunset, the awesome splendor of Santorini, the bursting English spring; this is the most beautiful image. Matching the white drifts of cloud in its elegance, your wedding dress is becalmed by the camera, yet somehow moving like a breeze.

Your leg, extended jauntily, is parallel with the gulf’s horizon as the football floats skywards, set in motion by your deft kick. What does this suggest? Your passion for fun and readiness for life, impulsiveness and a boldness of spirit that bewitched me years ago, and bewitches me still.

Over a decade later, this photo remains a joyful song, an endless bottle of the finest wine, and a thrilling, rich story.

chapel

Enduring thanks to our wedding photographers, and dear friends Brett and Trish at http://www.bluerazoo.com/