Notes:Gogarth is a sea cliff on the Welsh island of Ynys Lawd. The piece was written as a series of puns on climbing route names and plays on words which try to capture the essence of this magical place in the cadence of the writing. It also gave me the opportunity to reminisce about the times that I have spent “hanging around” there.
“Cyn lased a’r mor” is the Welsh for, “as blue as the sea”.
Llestri (pronounced thlestry) are plates.
Hot Henry Barber is an American climber who starred in a film that depicted his solo exploits including an ascent of the Strand at Gogarth.
Mer – Sea, Ciel – Sky – French
“Dangerous” Phil was a climbing partner who lived up to his reputation and is now a lawyer.
Spume flew: Pegasus, high above yellow wall and down we went in our own separate worlds, Rich coerced and I wild eyed. Rough days at Ynys Lawd, imagination and warm clothing, Gogarth, a non-arena, a place for private thought and drama; spires, steeples and congregations of birds wheeling, inspiring, living, playing. We were faced with a Creeping di-Lemma; we lemmings did what lemmings do, our mortal coils intact, suspended by the cord down which we shuffled. Slithering gritted eyes, a deaf adventure of Red Wall breaking holds and a speilio-un-logical shuffle to the top and homebound satisfaction.
Zen Yawn, a groaning, gaping above the white blue, as meditative figures, kimonoed shrouds, cutting wood, collecting water, brine splashed, minds flashing, fingers, shoes and hair salt sprayed dreamt around tottering crusts of fractious white rubble: Edwin’s palomino. On Hera‘s incestuous partner, Gaea’s grandson, delicate delicacy, seaside start and a poor stance. Other sorties yielding the smoke stained mortar fawn yen, or the milky vein, pumping possible pyrites, we fools.
How many times have I looked at those convoluted, light lashed rocks, older than any West End stage show or relative whom I might accompany to the lighthouse? A prebreeding winter’s day and we were gazing at the red loaf, falling apart like a ready sliced. Heart palpitating erratically; granny as she climbed the steps, I at a Brown peg, remnant of bygones and woebygones. Rusting, a loaded Welsh dresser displaying the family finery. They creaked, llestri. .
Hot Henry dangled the line, a film of his solo left me landed but even with a rope I felt Stranded. Sixteen on Gogarth, thinking helicopters, beyond retreat while on strident Moacs aiding, aided by a silent second; seagull soaring, screeching, silence. Outward Bound, machoistic sixteen I changed, Gogarth did not. Character building, this time a bailed trainee, the cliffs more forgiving than the courts or I, he falling as I laughed, the warden probably does the same now. Gogarth days with its ethereal wind, blowing black cobwebs from within. Belay ledge hermitages, head drooped, fakir fashion watching the waves. Medicine – sickmancure, sickheadcure, intro-per-verted. Forgetting the other’s struggle, paying out taking in machine-ish mind races, tidal and extreme, cerebral painting, cubist and surreal, sometimes mirrored, sometimes tortured. Pebble-dash blasted at the top. Sun caressed below. Seacliffmagic. Gogarth, a place of the mind, vivid and real, haven or asylum?
My strongest recollection is of madness, rain and a soaring crack (groovy?) on the white headwall shooting from sea to heaven, ‘mer ciel’ (mercy hell), or sky to water. My companion, “Dangerous”, wanting the rope above and I, for my feet to stick. Slime slipping mantels, potential energy, frighteningly frenetic, kinetic. The groove above whistled windily, giggling. Aerial acrobats floated, hooded white heads humour creased, and I dripping helpless, humourless. The rain serpentile, licking hair and flesh, running down fingers, sinister past warm parts for a shoe filling finale. Maritime edges, ends of the world and their perverse pleasures. Fighting, back lying, the ledge lurking somewhere, where? And all along, the grey drop of Wales, hardly drip, drip, drip, more open sluice. Cloud proud and we servantile, alongside the sea vertical swimming. But the rush sitting in the pub, head ringing crystal not talking, space staring, fixed, aglow. A boring climber now silent, attractive, his eyes telling a story.