Friday, 19 August 2011
We emerged from the mist like melancholy sheep, wraiths in anoraks. This was more like it. Morose but content. The Keytons on holiday. Overlooking the sea indistinguishable from the wetness around us, we picnicked at Tintagel and ruminated on Arthur. If this was his Camelot no wonder the Knights of the Round Table came to their dismal end. Arthur must have been terminally depressed; probably threw himself on Mordred’s sword just to get away. There would be sunshine in Avalon, and he had chain mail to protect himself from midges. I understood then why Isolde had fled her husband in favour of Tristan. Mark never stood a chance. “It’s not you, dear.” And she probably meant it. Tintagel.
We chewed our cheese sandwiches and contemplated the rock, grey in mist but rearing high in the clouds. The climb looked formidable and I thought back to Canillas de Aceituno, and the expats we had met. There was a guy that could make you drunk on his breath. Flies died from alcohol poisoning. This was his solution to sunshine and loneliness; another who had imbedded himself in the Spanish community. He was opening a convalescence home for seriously ill children, and his own child attended a Spanish school. He seemed the exception.
They reminded me of Crusading knights each in their villa - tiny castles on alien hills - each with their pool, their glorious sunsets, their satellite dish, and most important of all, a fast internet connection to home. They were immensely hospitable, some cheerful and at peace with the world, others lost like ghosts in a landscape that didn’t belong to them. It reminded me of the importance of roots and that relationship with others that even plants, with their very different senses share. I chewed on my sandwich.
“What are you thinking of?” my daughter asked.
“Richard of Cornwall,” I said. “His brother Henry III gave him Cornwall as a birthday present. He built the castle – what you can see of it - in 1233.”
“Not Arthur then.”
“Not Arthur, though the site itself was important to the ancient Cornish kings.
“So he may have been here.”
“Have a cheese sandwich.”