I’d set off before light, driving northward towards the coast. Sat in a long line of stationary cars, waiting for the ferry to open it’s large door. I cursed the fact that I’d forgotten to fill up with petrol in Spain where it is cheaper than England. Bilbao, midday, and it was mighty warm. The heat was painful. Sitting in the car was like sitting under a MAGNIFYING GLASS. Standing outside of it on the shade-less asphalt was only marginally less awful. My face was as red as anything and I was sweating. I could have sworn that the other people in the queue were staring at me, but I just put that down to the mental beginnings of the sunstroke that was probably on the horizon.
To make things tense, I had a fresh rabbit skin in my boot. Now I’m not sure what the laws on transporting such an item from country to country are, but I was not looking forward to explaining it to customs.
I’d been vegetarian since childhood. I’d entered that phase where you question life and death, at the age of 9, decided that death didn’t equal food. I hadn’t touched a piece of meat since (apart from a sausage roll I think I might have eaten whilst drunk one new year’s eve).
The reason I was ferry bound was due to the fact that I’d been staying out in the countryside of Spain for a while. The opportunity to slaughter and eat a rabbit had arisen. This was the cathartic moment I’d been waiting for all my life, I mused. I don’t mean to claim that I actually killed the thing myself, but I watched the whole process. From the wriggling to the gutting to the skinning. We marinated it in the wild rosemary that grew all around in the dusty Spanish ground and we barbequed it on skewers (I haven’t enjoyed rosemary since). This escapade did not help me come to terms with the death=food issue in the least. Nor did it lead to a healthy desire for steak on a friday or a bacon butty on a saturday like I thought it might.
Anyway, as I looked at the white fur that was destined for the bin, I felt that It wasn’t right to throw it away. I decided to bring it home and make some ear muffs out of it. After all, I didn’t half get cold ears in the winter back at home and the fur was lovely and soft.
So there I was, waiting to get on the ferry with a horrible rabbit skin in my boot, a few guitars and lots of wet rugs which I’d accidentally dropped in the river the day before I’d departed. The ferry doors opened and I was signalled to drive on, but one moment before I passed out from heat exhaustion. N.b. I’ve got a slightly irrational fear of the bottom of boats, not the whole boat, and I’m not scared of being ON a boat, but I just can’t look at the bottom of them without thinking that the end is nigh. It’s something about the shape, and the fact that they usually have nothing but miles and miles and miles of dark water underneath them. I got a shiver right down my spine as I drove into the bottom of that big boat.
My discomfort was somewhat appeased by the musac that piped around the whole ferry. I had a bed to sleep on and tacky things that were easily purchasable from the gift shop. I sat out on the deck and watched the land disappear into the horizon. Whilst lamenting the passing of Spain, I looked forward to Portsmouth and the northerly drive past Solihull and my usual stop at Hilton Park services on the M6 that, in my mind, marks the point of arrival into my beloved north. I wrote a song whilst I looked out of the porthole.