Sunday, 11 March 2012

My first trip to Cornwall in 1970

My first visit to Cornwall was over forty years ago. I was poor, short on experience and long on wonder for the world. Cornwall was an inviting place for a such a person. For the sea does not charge admission for those willing  to listen to the tales of the waves as they break upon the rocks - the treasures they have carried from distant lands, the loved ones they have delivered - and sent, the invading armies and navies they have chosen to bless or curse. All of this to be told to any soul willing to sit for hours on the green Cornish cliffs with the sun at his back and the sea as his companion.

St. Ives is strange concoction of fishermen, artists and tourists. They may have little in common but they have a workable symbiotic relationship, each understanding that there is no understanding what attracts us to people and places, or why the Creator fancies to run these little circuses of humanity - although quite likely simply for His amuzement.

I took a room in a modest bed and breakfast, not fancy at all, but as neat and tidy as Edy, the elderly owner. She was not one for small talk - straight to the point, "Let me make you a cup of tea, Love, so I can read your leaves, I think you need some help."

The most immediate help I got turned out to be from her brother, though when we met neither of us knew the other. He was a short, bent over fellow, limping with cane. He was dressed in black with a cape and fedora. He approached me as I was passing an amuzement shop with slot machines.

"Don't you think you should give it try?" he asked.  

"I am not a gambler," I replied, catching a twinkle in his eye.

"Oh mate, it wouldn't be a gamble at all with me and I think you could use some money. Surely you have a shilling."

"I suppose I do," not sure of what I was getting into, but eager to strike up some interaction with the locals and with such an intriguing character at that.

So the old guy took my shilling and won me twenty. He was howling with approval as I raked in my "earnings."

He caught my curious stare as I stared to reflect on what had just happened.

"You know I never win for myself, I can only do it for someone in need," he  explained.

"Well," I said, "you certainly seem to be enjoying yourself nonetheless, would you like to try it again?"

"Oh no, my friend, let's not be greedy. That is the lesson here, isn't it?"

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