My first vac. job as a student was digging ditches for a water main in Gweek. Our crowst waggon was parked by the only bridge over the Helford. The Helford divides the Lizard peninsula from the rest of the world - though geologically the true Lizard, like Scotland and India, is quite separate from England, and even from Cornwall [I mean Scotland and India also arrived out of the blue, crashing into their present resting places some time ago. I don't mean India was ever attached to Cornwall]. The true Lizard was a ball of magma that rose through the earth’s crust and the ocean, solidified, turned on its side, and collided with early Europe which at that point extended south-west only as far as fifty degrees one minute south, roughly a line between what would much later become Coverack, and Predannack Head.
This is not myth, it is geological fact.
I lived down on the true Lizard, in St Ruan. Down the mains trenches in Gweek ten miles to the north most of my work mates on pick and shovel were ex-tin miners, incredibly tough old men who could dig through anything without hardly moving (we went where no JCB could go before), while I thrashed and sweated for every nugget of boulder clay, pebble and grit on the end of my shovel. When they asked me where I came from and I told them St Ruan, they’d go Fssshwwwt and make a gesture of an arrow parting the hair. Injun country!
I’ve just had an email to say that one of my nephews and his wife are coming to visit next weekend. Ravi is from Seattle. My brother-in-law Lakshmi [why does he have a girl’s name? I don’t know. In Madras they call him Bharatan] is a doctor there. Ravi’s wife has a German name but half her antecedents are American and the other half English, by chance for some generations from the Nilgiri hills across Tamil Nadu from Madras. I met her step-grandfather at the wedding. “I was in your country during the war,” he said.
We did some detective work. He was in the Royal Canadian Air Force, he was stationed at a tiny aerodrome in the back of beyond, miles from any place you could even imagine.
"Where?" I asked.
"Oh, you’d never have heard of it."
"Go on, where?"
"Down on the end," he said. "Almost out of sight."
"Predannack." Of course. On the true Lizard. "Yeah, I come from there," I said. "Injun country."
Oído en el mundo real
1 year ago