Sunday, 18 March 2012

All at sea

I've been enjoying the BBC4 series, All at Sea, in which Timothy Spall and his wife Shane travel round the coast of Britain in a barge at a leisurely pace (it took them six years). It reminded me of a line from Jonathan Raban's book Coasting that ‘even the most household corridor of sea is a very wild place indeed’. Raban did a similar circumnavigation of the island in the early 1980s and wrote this book about it. Here is another quote from it that I just dug out:

‘People on the land think of the sea as a void, an emptiness, haunted by mythological hazards. The sea marks the end of things. It is where life stops and the unknown begins. It is a necessary, comforting fiction to conceive of the sea as the residence of gods and monsters – Aeolus, the Sirens, Scylla, Charybdis, the Goodwins, the Bermuda Triangle. In fact the sea is just an alternative known world. Its topography is as intricate as that of the land, its place names as particular and evocative, tis maps and signposts rather more reliable.’

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