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Sunday, April 25, 2004  
Friday's Mist
Friday morning saw the clearest blue sky I’ve witnessed in months; probably since the end of last summer, in fact. November often brings crisp azure plains with nary a cloud to be seen, but as I spent most of it in a basement at the university (the audiovisual department is on the lower ground floor of the main library, and has no external windows) I missed them if they were there. But Friday was as clear as I’ve ever known it; I don’t think there was even a vapour trail to be seen.

However, two miles east from the top of the cliff where I walk each morning to get to the train station is the mouth of the river Exe, and rolling all the way down the river and way, way out to sea, as far as the horizon where it blurred with the sea, sky and sun into an indistinct white ghost, was a sixty-foot tall coil of mist, the cold waters of the Exe sucking moisture from the air into an enormous snake of fog. The train to Exeter follows the course of the river from Dawlish Warren to just past Starcross, at which point it moves slightly inland; as it halted in Starcross station the mist was so thick that the world appeared to be made of milk. By Exeter the sky was blue again, beautiful enough, but nothing compared to that horizontal channel of fog, twice the height of Red Rock (an enormous promontory atop which I have lain on my back, stoned, and watched the Red Arrows circle and dive and fart coloured smoke from their behinds to the whoops and cheers of a hundred thousand holidaymakers below), drifting towards France… exceptional. I wish I could say I’d been listening to something suitably ethereal and strange, but it was “Gangsta Shit” by Outkast.

Almost as wonderful was the rainbow I saw at Exminster on Wednesday evening as I drove to football, rising from a spot on the canal which I could see clearly from certain angles as I drove (slowly!), echoed twenty yards outside itself by a second and less distinct band of colours. But the inner band was so bright and vivid that it looked as though you could take a knife and fork to it and cleave yourself a chunk of refracted light to have for supper.

The weather has been wonderful this weekend. On Saturday I went to get a paper and it took me two and a half hours because I dallied on the breakwater (advising a young boy not to jump off the end because the tide wasn’t in far enough, and there was still debris from where the breakwater was ruptured a couple of months ago on the seabed), in the rock pools and by the crazy golf, where my friend Ben works (the best job in Dawlish – paid to read the paper in the sunshine and hand out golf clubs!). Just across from Ben’s ‘office’ is the main road through Dawlish, a confluence of one-way streets, roundabouts (the crazy golf is in the middle of one), traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. At one junction in order to turn right you need to pull up to the lights in order for a sensor in the road to trigger the red, red-amber, green sequence; a hapless tourist was sitting stationary a good ten yards from the lights, with a queue of irate locals behind him to polite to beep and unable to pass until he moved forward. As I passed on the way to see Emma in the off-licence I leant down to the passenger window; “You have to pull right up to the lights or they’ll never change,” I said. “Thanks! I’d have been here all day!” The car immediately behind, who must’ve been waiting there for five minutes, beeped and cheered in thanks. I waved my paper at them in acknowledgement…

Today I reviewed the new Beta Band album, and this afternoon Emma and I walked out to Warren point, where I got sunburnt shoulders (in April!) and built a bench with piles of driftwood. A good weekend.

In other news, Orbital have announced they are to split after fifteen years. Well, as they’re brothers I’m not sure ‘split’ is the right word, but… end, maybe. One last record (Blue Album; back to the swirling atomic logo) is to be released on June 21st, and two last gigs – Glastonbury (June 27th?) and Brixton Academy (25th). Although they’re about my favourite band of the last decade I’ve never managed to catch the Hartnoll brothers live, and while I’d love to, and am seriously considering a sojourn to London in order to do so, part of me thinks it would be romantic to never manage it. Hmmm… The Beta Band and The Streets are both in Bristol next month. If I didn’t hate live music I’d be excited…


4/25/2004 10:48:00 pm


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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com

All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005