The Beatitudes

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I walk alone, hands jammed in deep pockets and observing the gentle curve of a Jurassic coast as fishing boats gently bob on a millpond sea. I ache – shoulders and lower back, with clicking joints. I cannot use my left thumb very well. I can feel a dull pain in my side. My shoes have holes in the soles so when I take a step I can feel the warm concrete through my sock. It is cold when I walk on grass and I like the contrast. I look out across the water to see distant friends. I wonder if anyone will find the bottle I threw containing a short message to any stranger whom may find it.

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Arms out, feel the wind like a passenger plane taxiing. Lift my head to the sun and allow it to dim in my sunglasses. Cars race by at threatening speeds. With hours to kill, I find a quiet place in the shade and reflect. She is Trouble, but then I’ve always been rather fond of trouble. Walking unfamiliar paths, I feel like an intruder. My footprints don’t set here. The soft ground recoils flat from my step. In other places, a person might think they catch a glimpse of someone out of the corner of their eye – past grass covered mounds on a cool summer morning, on a certain street in London weaving through the crowds following her shoulder blades, in a gallery in York or on a cold, north eastern beach. It’s not their imagination. It’s my echo.

I was never a beach person until I moved closer to the sea. Even now, I only enjoy one lonely, wide stretch where the sand blasts your legs like fire clinging to a petrol covered floor. You can always find things washed up; old bottles ground into strange pumice stones, fossils and motorcycles. The remains of last night’s teenage bonfire – all cheap cider and flirting under the stars, the rapid heart beats to the incoming first kiss. I had my first kiss in the back row of a cinema that is now closed. As the movie progressed, I had many more, making up for lost time I suppose. Years later we met up accidentally, flirted briefly and became teenagers again. She went back to married life; I took another walk on my beach, drawing lyrics in the sand for the two lovers arm in arm a few hundred yards behind me.

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Music is my only means of communication with a world that I recognise. I walk into my job knowing that I will have to fight a slab of frozen stupidity the size of a glacier, armed only with a cigarette lighter. They don’t understand why I walk forty minutes instead of a three minute drive. Those forty minutes there and back are precious. Before, music has been a teacher, a comforter, a uniform to wear as a statement of intent. Now, in this chapter of my life more than ever, music helps me to soar. I feel as though I am walking barefoot on wet sand. Motorcycle Emptiness is still as keen as ever. The Streets take me back to those ill-begotten teen years of cinema longings – her breath tasted of mint and her tongue was cold. M83 quicken my pulse, Morrissey makes me wiggle my hips as I walk past bemused motorists. The National drip with honey coated melancholy; a warm hug from someone who knows. The Cardigans take me into a past of grass stains on the knees and pine sap in my hair; Aphex Twin takes me into a strange and glorious future. A future when I don’t have to do this anymore and I can concentrate on doing what I was put here to do; to try and take one picture or write one sentence that moves just one person and changes their life for the better.

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