Author: joe

Sunday, 07 January, 2007 - 14:57

We went to Whitby in the cold, rainy, misty January of 2002; over the moors, into the crook of the valley, down the quaintness of the streets, past the noisy amusements, past Magpie fish and chips and the vinegar smell mingling with the fishing boats moored in the harbour; along the harbour wall and right to the end of the pier. There are steps down to the lower deck of the pier, where crazy men stand with fishing rods.

We each took it in turns to scatter some ashes into the sea. It was windy and when I threw them, they were scattered back on the harbour wall below us, just above the reach of the swell of the tide. 'You've got me dad down the wall!' said Kieron, mock-aghast. Kathryn threw flowers into the sea. Pink bobbing heads and stems buffeting in the wind and sea rain.

In Whitby, at the end of the wintry north moors, cobbles and slate and jet are monochrome in the wetness of January. The boats in the harbour look gaudily colourful against the sombre background of grey, and the abbey on the hill-top. The ashes are somewhere in between - grey and monochrome and indestructible, and mixed into the sea with the loud boats, with their jangling chains and masts and pastel sails.

I sometimes wish Whitby would telescope away - be the hardest place in the world to reach, clinging to the side of the cliffs at the edge of the end of the world. There should be no B-roads to the next world.

Categories: ashes, dad, whitby, grey,
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