Summa: Diary (April 23-27, 2022)

April 23. I’ve not visited Saundersfoot (Llanusyllt) before. It’s less than 68 miles from Aberystwyth, and faces in a south-easterly direction. The sun doesn’t go down over the horizon, here, as it does back at home. Which is disconcerting, at first. As, too, the dawn light that burns upon the surface of the sea. I spoke with a fisherman who was hurriedly painting the hull of his boat, having procrastinated for far too long. The top section was a deep indanthrene blue and the lower section, a venetian red of the same tone. I was reminded of a highly-formalised landscape painting. ‘Why did you pick those colours?’, I asked. He couldn’t say. On what basis do we choose colours to paint the outside and the inside of our homes? My bedroom in Aberystwyth is decorated with a very particular blue and a cold white. It replicates the décor of my accommodation at a Penzance hotel, in the early 1990s, which was run by the famous 1960s model Jean Shrimpton.

April 25. Tenby (Dinbych-y-pysgod) reminds me of St Ives. The town clusters tightly around the harbour. There’s a small sailors’ church close to the beach, where boats are moored. I reimagined the scene as it might’ve been represented by Nicholson, Wood, Lanyon, and Wallis. The clarity of the water, together with the sunlight reflected off the pale sands, casts upon the brightly-painted facades and the surrounding landscape a Mediterranean complexion. I could’ve been a thousand of miles away.

Caldey Island (Ynys Bŷr) is situated 1 mile off the coast. But, in another sense, it, too, feels as though it could be situated faraway. The island is paradisiacal. Visitors move from the landing slip and through the woodland in reverential quiet. There’s been a monastic settlement here since the sixth century. That knowledge changes one’s perception of the place. This is hallowed ground. At the centre of the island is a village (which has its own currency and issues its own postage stamps), overlooked by an Italianate monastery. The architecture removed me, in my mind and spirit, even further away from where I was, geographically. I recalled Clough Williams-Ellis’ Italian village Portmeirion (built 1925-75), in North Wales. This was the setting for ‘the Village’ in the TV series The Prisoner (1967). Like the Caldey Island village, it appears to be located in the wrong place — both physically and temporally. (In the series, the Village has no precise geographical location.)

April 23-27. I thought: ‘The sand looks like chocolate fondeaux.’ / ‘There ought to be a model ship suspended from the church’s ceiling, as is the tradition in Norway.’ / ‘I can’t look at the face of the fish I’m eating!’ / ‘The abbey’s graves are uniform; the noteworthy and the common are, alike, marked by a rudimentary wooden cross’. / ‘It’s not a baby jellyfish; it’s a salp. The sea’s tears.’ / ‘The village shop-stand has many crucifixes hung upon it; arrayed as they might’ve been at Calvary — the site outside the city walls of Jerusalem where Christ was executed.’ / ‘There’s a place called Calvary on Caldey.’

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