Seychelles can be a strange place like that. A population of 88,000 people living mostly on one island 18 x 5 miles and we either see each other all the time or not at all. I’m sure it’s all regulated by one of God’s algorithms for preserving sanity in a small island state and it seems to work. Except, not on this occasion.
I’m really becoming quite distressed now and my heart seems to be trying to scale my ribcage in a frantic attempt to get some air. Rather like a a cat in a sack. The sun isn’t helping either, now free of clouds and beating down like a mallet. For some obscure reason I am reminded that accidents are rarely one event but a sequence of small ones perfectly choreographed to produce the maximum amount of mayhem from the smallest, (by itself almost insignificant), happening. So far I have accumulated three: the breakdown; the ‘High Noon’-esque silence of my surrounds and, now, the sun.
Again, I find myself transported to a very particular mental state and to a game I often play with myself in order to reach a judgement on particular issue. Those insane fishing trips of the late 70’s I made far out into the ocean from D’arros with dear old Laveux REALLY must have really had a profound subliminal effect on me because I often fantatise that if one of the large mid-ocean sharks we habitually used to catch and tow behind us back to the island, had instead, turned on us and smashed our pathetic little, wooden boat to matchsticks, flinging me into the ocean with my tormentor, what would my final thought be on such and such a niggling matter?
At such a moment you would surely see things as they truly are. There would just be no space for the frills, social niceties and conventions which otherwise fill our lives and distort our judgement. Given the extreme danger of one’s circumstances, they would fall away, wouldn’t they? And the entirely truthful answers to Life’s questions would be there for you to take with you into the next world as the ultimate epiphany.
I’m still far from there right now, as I continue to heave the dead weight of the machine up what is becoming a slight incline, but I’m beginning to notice a certain similarity between the two situations. Notwithstanding that one is direr than the other, both are able to transport you from the here and now and even my breakdown on this lonely stretch of road is already blowing the chaff away from some of the corn.
Funny how my thoughts again gravitate to my historical thriller, KOLONY, clearly establishing its importance in my scheme of things. I guess that’s only natural after 13 years writing its more than 600 pages, sifting through obscure historical facts from the archives of 3 countries and living with a crew of characters who have rented space in my head for as long. (Worryingly, certain of them appear neither to have paid their rent of late, nor moved out.)
As I enter this limbo, my subconscious homes in on a few points of story structure which I guess must have been bothering me and suddenly, finding myself wondrously undistracted by other by other thoughts, I see clearly what must be done to enrich the character of one particular person in the story. Ditto, how to deploy my detailed knowledge of Seychelles, the atoll and the surrounding waters to create greater suspense, tension, accuracy and most importantly, authenticity for my readers.
I won’t bore you with the details of how and when I got home. Suffice it to say that I was there for a good few hours before being eventually spotted by a friend who helped me push the machine into the garden of someone he knew for safekeeping until, some weeks later, I fixed her ailing electrics and got her back on the road. That’s another beauty of the islands: we are all one big family floating on the ocean. Occupants of a latter day Noah’s Ark.
Plodding up that incline with my burden was not in vain though, because it cleared my head and allowed me to think straight, unencumbered for once by the infernal whirrings of monkey-mind. It stood in very nicely for the ECG I was due to have, too…. but all the same, maybe don’t try it at home…