I love to watch yachts setting out. It’s like dogs: the same sense of intent but inscrutable purpose. With yachts it might be a rendezvous with a drug dealer at sea, an attempt on an unknown passage or fishing field or a voyage to a medieval city. With dogs the purpose is even more inscrutable but usually involves smells.
I like the way that they set out using their engine, intending to hoist sail once outside the bay.
After a very good lunch of locally and recently caught calamari, watching boats embark from the Mosquito Coast, I am reminded of Albania in its phase as a glorious Marxist beacon of freedom, where there was in principle the same access as here to delicious calamari but it was illegal to seek them out in boats, as experience suggested to those benevolently guiding the affairs of the glorious Marxist beacon that anyone with a mile of water between himself and said beacon would scuttle off to Italy and never come back.
I came down here early. I have secured a kefir culture for Amy. Discrete enquiries revealed that in this matter British Airways could not be bribed, and of course the culture could not be concealed among our luggage and smuggled in, contained as it was in a great sheepskin and apparently still requiring a beating every few minutes from adolescent girls. It was of great antiquity, going back at least to the Sixteenth Century.
The great Balkan warlord Apa’tman had famously used kefir from this very culture to provide his crack troops with appropriate dreams. These were of such invincibility that Apa’tman’s army had prevailed against great odds at the appallingly bloody but decisive Battle of The Black Applefield (1508) and then afterwards the kefir had encouraged dreams of such docility that the people had acquiesced without a murmur in his bloody but decisive rule.
Of course Apa’tman’s culture was at best a remote ancestor of mine. Nevertheless the lineage had preserved its mystery. No trace of it would be found in the kefir to be found in the supermarkets: some farmhouses in the mountains, yes; the general public, no. It was a privilege to have secured some for Amy and it would be invaluable for her in combating her competitors in general and Mr Lee’s stakeholders in particular.
In the circumstances it is properly respectful to capitalise it: The Culture.
The privilege was owed to the mayor, as was my introduction to the man who would carry The Culture for me to England. Kurd Maverick…
(METAFICTION SPOILER ALERT
(Alert readers may have spotted that not everything in this blog is entirely true. The dog, for instance, does not really talk. (Of course this is admitted in the post entitled A Moment of Truth, but only in the rather Sternian (if that is the authentic Eng. Lit. expression) and therefore unreliable context of a fiction within a fiction within a fiction within a fiction.) (He really does have a problem with whisky though.) Neither Apa’tman nor the Battle of The Black Applefield will survive even a cursory Google search. Kurd Maverick however is as real as a poster campaign can make him. Unlike other men who feature on posters by the roads in Montenegro, particularly those aspiring to political office whose instructions to the photographer appear to have been: ‘Try and make me look as shifty as you can’, Kurd is a magnificent if two-dimensional presence in his singlet and designer stubble, brooding, snarling and muscle-bound.
(I imagine that he is something in pop music.
(Which is a pity as Montenegrin pop music is probably the worst in the world. It is witless and disco and it is everywhere. Spending time in most Montenegrin shops, restaurants or beaches without ear plugs is like living in the losing rounds of the Eurovision Song Contest without the frocks.
(Kurd Maverick is real. His involvement in running kefir cultures across national frontiers is however fanciful.
(But enough of this.)
…met me at the quayside
I have, he said, the boat, The Culture and the girls.
The girls, indeed: they were statuesque, with big hair, costumes out of Barbarella and a travelling bag each.
Are the girls strictly necessary? I thought … a mature culture … no longer any need.
Very desirable said Kurd firmly. They will beat The Culture in relay. If it is bad weather I will beat The Culture too.
I remembered what the mayor had said. Kurd’s instinctive feeling for kefir and for the intestinal flora of sheep and how to combine them with a subtle thump was of the sort that comes along once in a generation. The pop music was just a way of supporting a life dedicated to dairy products. It was a privilege to get his services.
Even so, the expense.
As if he read my thoughts, Kurd said, Girls complementary. No extra.
Was it a leer on his face? With all the Botox it was impossible to tell.
OK, I said. Keep in touch.
And without more ado the yacht pulled away from the jetty. The Culture stood proudly in the bow, like Queen Christina in the Garbo film or more recently the plump one whose name I could no doubt Google had the Wi Fi cart not just left, from that film about the Titanic. I watched the boat with pleasure until it rounded the headland and was lost to sight. Just for once, I knew its purpose.
As always the ridiculous followed the sublime. I fell asleep – last night I had dosed myself liberally with supermarket kefir and I needed more dreaming – and when I awoke the better half had joined me and there was another yacht leaving the jetty.
(Just remembered – Leonardo di Caprio.)
This yacht was owned by an entrepreneur whom I had met the previous evening. He had told me that he had had an opportunity to acquire a large number of rich but nutritious dinners and in order to stop anyone else getting them he had eaten them all. The truth of this boast was evident halfway down his front, especially as this morning he was dressed only in shorts.
His yacht set out and then stopped, drifting back whereupon it was secured to the jetty; and the process was then repeated. The entrepreneur was yelling at the crew. His face became red. I thought that there was something wrong with the engine, but the better half, who could understand what was being said better than I can, explained that they were practising leaving the jetty and coming back.
I could get into that. Yachts setting out, do it at all do it right.