So I hurtled down the coast road in my rush to be nowhere. The borrowed BMW my grandad lent me, proving that, though she guzzles fuel and handles like a Sherman tank, she can’t half go when she wants to. “Look after her,” he said when he handed me the keys, “and look after yourself.”
In and out of the villages, until there’s nothing but the causeway, and eventually, no more road. Nowhere.
They’ve demolished the pier, so the crumbling outcrop of rock is as far as I can go. That’s no problem; there’s a bench there.
I sit and gaze out to where the sea should be, but she’s not there. Only the sands. A lazy haze covers the vast expanse of slick, salty hell. The sea fog’s rolled in faster than the tide, and set a gloom over everything.
In the distance the ghost lights flare in and out of existence. The buoys are St Elmos fire for anyone stupid enough to be out beyond the isles. I can’t even see the isles. There’s the barely noticeable outline of the ruined castle on Piel, if I squint. But then, that castle is burnt so fiercely into my mind, maybe I’m just imagining it.
The petulant reek of the sands crawls around me. It should be overpowering, but I’m used to it.
The fog is thickening. It’s hard to differentiate between the sands and the murk. When the train conductors shout “End of the line, end of the Earth” it’s a laugh. Barrow is the end of the line. Barrow is a destination. Nobody comes here by acciden, save the accident of being born here.
But right now you could be forgiven for thinking that this really is the very edge of the world.
I can just about see the town behind me, hanging there in the murk. Precariously perched on the edge, ready to tip any second. The lights of the shipyard twinkle through the fog. Apt, that is; the yard is the only thing that keeps the town from dropping.
The fog’s so thick I could chew it. The stench of the sands is so powerful I can taste it. Everything ahead of me has gone. If I sit here and let the fog have its way, will I disappear too?
A man can dream.
It’ll roll on, and I’ll still be here. I’ll always be here.
I should go home.