I’m up before 5 and take the car down to the harbour, wellies on and a coat. The sun’s breaking through but it’s grey and half light. It’s neaps and the southerly wind has pushed the sea up but this is as low as it goes so I wade out almost overtopping my boots to get to the mooring line outer pulley. I grapple with an adjustable undoing the shackle, freeing the rope and broken pulley and attach an old fender to the heavy chain fixed to the seabed so it doesn’t sink below the sand.
Hauling in the 70 meter 16mm rope heavy with sand and seaweed is hard work for me in my limited condition, but I drag an end at a time towards the car park, up the embankment and coil it down into the boot of the car onto some plastic sheet I’ve put in there to keep the salt water out. All done, so back home again for breakfast.
Up at the barn I wash the sand off bit by bit in a bucket, coiling in and out. Then pull the rope out down the track. It’s drizzling then raining hard. It’s going to be a wet morning, but this is wet and messy work so just get on with it.
I take off the corroded carabiner at one end to allow me to fit the new pulley block, prising apart the splice, the wet rope tight and resistant. The mooring buoy needs splicing back on at this end too so I do that, such a joy to work with dry pliable rope, but the old wet rope part works out ok too.
I can’t finish this job because I’m waiting for a new carabiner in the post. It might arrive at home this morning, I’ll check later.
But now I spin over to St Just, the sun hot suddenly, a warm wind and empty roads roof down speed. I head to Cafe Dog and Rabbit to meet Simone for lunch and a catch up on cancer diets. Sim has been battling ovarian cancer for three years and has reached an unsettling point where the current treatment seems to have stopped being effective. These are frightening times for her. Worries about her young daughter Georgia. It’s good to talk it through.
After lunch I’m back in Penzance and up to West Cornwall Hospital for an Echocardiogram, a video survey of my heart. The technician is very friendly, puts three electrodes on my chest and pushes a lubricated sensor head against my skin which picks up the black and white images of my heart, and I watch the screen with him as he makes his film for Dr Kruger. This is surreal, watching my heart muscles beating, little valves flipping open closed pushing blood round my body. He explains what we’re looking at and I wish I could have recorded this – so interesting.
20 minutes later I’m out, cycling back down to the studio, and back to the barn, images of my beating heart still strong in my head.
I lay out the rope doubling back in ten long loops bunched together laid out on a tarpaulin. I set up a shallow plastic-lined trough and section by section treat the rope to a soaking of bleach used for cleaning milking parlours. It works a treat, all the green seaweed turns white and washes off, the bleach soaking deep into the rope strands. The cleaned rope looks almost new again and should run nicely now.
But chemicals. There’s no escape from them if you want to do things like boats and buses and buildings. Or sculpture. You take precautions but… And now I wonder about the cause of my cancer again. The trigger. What was it?
The talk with Sim, it’s there all the time. I’m not really allowing myself to focus on my cancer, distracting myself with activity as always. On some levels this works for me and I’m also aware that I’m taking advantage of being reasonably well to get things done, aware that things may change. In my head I’m hoping that when the bus is back on the road I’ll allow myself to slow down and concentrate. Maybe then the pilates or yoga, or the suggestion of cousin Matthew to look into the Feldenkrais Method (his teacher is here in Penzance). Some space to think, some mindfulness, some focus.