|SPACE by Poulomi Basu|
I turn over in bed. I must have slept quite deeply because there is an ache where my shoulder had been leaning on the pillow and creases on my skin matching those on the sheet. It is still dark so I switch on my mobile phone. The silver light from the screen momentarily lights up a small corner of the room. I check the time. It is 5.30am. I haul myself out of bed and put on the bedside lamp. I take my pills and I finish the the cup of water - it has been a warm night and the water is tepid. I pull on my shorts and two T shirts, turn off the light and go downstairs. After putting on my beach sandals, I leave the house quietly shutting and locking the front door behind me. I plug my iphone into my ears and to the accompaniment of the Beatles' "Lady Madonna" I stride down to the sea. The street lamps are still on but the sun, not yet above the horizon, is beginning to light up the sky.
A black cat with no tail and only three legs hobbles across the pavement and I wonder if that heralds a double helping of bad luck but then maybe the lack of a tail and one leg cancels out the bad. However, I remember that I am not superstitious and walk on. As I get nearer to the sea, the wind blows stronger until I reach the main road when it drops to a soft breeze. There is hardly anyone about. The tramps in the shelter have not yet woken. There are no fishermen. A beachcomber walks slowly, head down, over the pebbles but he is some way away. All is quiet and the sea is like silk. I take off all my clothes and I plunge into the water. The sun is slowly rising behind the buildings standing like tall fingers facing the sea. I push out and then twist and float on my back. At times like this, I feel that all I see is mine.
I told Poulomi of my love of swimming, especially in the sea, and she felt that that was where I had to be photographed. She was going to use film and digital but for this shot, she really needed to be above me so she sat on the shoulders of her husband, CJ Clarke, who was accompanying her on this short trip. When she first climbed on, CJ wasn't quite ready and he began to stumble and I suddenly feared that the two of them together with Poulomi's expensive cameras would be joining me in the water but CJ steadied himself and Poulomi began to take her photographs. As I floated past her, I thought of the more exotic and sometimes maybe, more dangerous locations she had travelled to in order to take her wonderful photographs and yet, her she was, in Southwick photographing me.
They were very good company that day and Poulomi was very much the intrepid explorer, seeking out and discovering new things about me. It is very subtle but this picture says so much. My posture in the water reveals an awe, almost(but not quite) a fear of the enormity of what is in the sky and beyond. I appear to be still but the large area of empty sea is there for me to float into. Even when my Parkinson's was worse, much worse, I could swim and so the sea is like a cradle carrying me, naked like a baby, on through the rest of my life, an undiscovered country. One can almost touch the water. It is such a gentle exploration of my body, my state, at this time of my life.
Poulomi is so good at what she does that she can say all this in one little picture taken in Southwick.
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon
We'll meet (I know we'll meet) beyond the shore
We'll kiss just as before
Happy we'll be
Beyond the Sea
- Jack Lawrence