The Otter’s Tipple – Whitby
I’m turning back the clock from my bout of thuggery on Tyneside to my one-day stop in Whitby, where I was pleased to get an eponymous pint of Otter. My welcome wasn’t entirely warm, however; parking was a pain and I had to risk a ‘coaches only’ section, where an officious car park attendant looked at me like she’d clocked a slug on her kitchen worktop. After I’d squeezed in elsewhere and paid my dues, one of her colleagues confided that the woman is notorious for her anger and you wouldn’t think she used to work for the Samaritans.
“I can only wonder what was the mortality-rate,” I quipped.
I do like Whitby, it holds happy memories that I wanted to chart in my novel. Today the sun was shining and I relished a long walk over the sands then a climb up to the Abbey for a personal slice of Stoker, who I look up to as a traveller and author. Then among the jet shops, Steampunk regalia and fairground buzz I reminisced.
Jayne and I came to Whitby often, once with my son Dom when we sailed on a boat. One time though we had our fortunes told, for a laugh as much as anything, given my scepticism of clairvoyance. Reading our palms, the lady said that Jayne drove a blue and silver sports car. True, though I suspected she’d seen us drive in. She said I’d never find a truer friend than Jayne. Probably true. And she read that my father was ill but was being well cared-for and would be OK. Mostly true except two months later he was dead.
I shouldn’t mock. Some people put great store in such things, whereas I believe in chance. Like it was chance that determined I’d be attacked in my van…
I’ve had a number of welcome responses to Friday’s diary (The Night I Was Attacked) most from people who were obviously concerned. It was great to know that people cared about me, and even better that my kids and other loved-ones were among the well-wishers. One very loved-one asked “Why the hell are you putting yourself through this shit?” It’s a very simple, very fair and very valid question and one I’ve asked myself many times since the start of this project.
I’m a writer. I can’t do anything else. Some say I can’t even do that! But that’s my chosen field, the profession for which I trained for years, my calling from which I can’t run. And if I’m not employed or indeed employable given my age and mental health (see Don’t Rain on My Parade) I can’t just do nothing but wait for the phone to never ring. I’ve got to get out in search of story, in search of some things and some people to write about. I also have to get through each day, ideally without harm or prejudice, and live with the little that chance has given me.
But although the question is valid, it’s valid also to flip it: Why the hell do I put myself through this shit? Or, Why the hell have I been put through this shit? Is it fate? Is it the cards I was dealt? Or just chance and that’s just the way the stick of rock crumbles? Whatever it is and whatever life throws at you, you have to fight back, you must be brave. My Latin’s a bit rusty shall we say, but I think it’s audentes fortuna iuvat – fortune favours the bold. Sometimes though, we’re emboldened with the help of others.
Like the otter is making a comeback, in part with the help, support and effort of humankind, I will make mine, either on my own or: