Some of us stroll down to the water’s edge as if we were in tune with some kind of personal Pacific Rhythm. Others lie about self-consciously on the sand and wriggle themselves about in weird and densely musculature disciplines that are half Karma Sutra and half Bikram Yoga.
– and the local brown-skinned kids pile into the shore-break like tearaways, all of them blessed with bones that bend, and hot summer afternoons that have no end.
Older men slowly ease into the sea-fold wreak, rafting away on their submersible logs, deluded and intent. Flinty eyed old gluttons, claiming every trough, every peak.
Vic though, always approached the tidemark with his own stiff gait and vastly stolid intent.
Built meanly but with the wide shoulders and the powerful torso of a man always at odds with his body; he was a red-bearded and clear-eyed man of about forty and his entry into the sea was always strangely laboured and intense. Once afloat he would struggle to mount the ancient board he used and his progress out to the break-line always looked like hard going. We would sometimes count thirty-five waves beaten before he reached clear water.
And once out there he would immediately turn about and strive for the shore, like a drowning man hearing some siren call. Little matter that the first wave chasing him was merely the heraldic for five more attractive others closely following – Vic invariably went for the number one, and unlike us he didn’t ever look over his shoulder to see what the wave was doing. Head down, thrashing.
And how he flailed onto it – and slowly lumbered to his feet – in whitewater now – and then he stood, ungainly and wide–footed, and triumphant for a just bewildering instant before his inevitable collapse into the sea.
Twenty waves in a session yet Vic never wavered in his passion to get up.
A couple of years ago he and his family sold up and moved north, I think it was muscular dystrophy that finally sold him out to invalidism.
He was in a wheelchair when we said goodbye, and somebody gave him a boxful of Jack McCoy movies, just in case things turned around for him.
So here’s hoping.