5th March

The View

‘Is that what brought you all the way up here?’ the interviewer asked. ‘An uninterrupted view?’

The older man said, ‘I thought we’d finished.’

‘We have, but there are always more questions.’

‘Is that thing not switched off ?’

‘It is now.’

The interviewer put the machine in his briefcase, which he snapped shut with a show of finality.

His host reached for the whisky bottle and refilled their glasses. From the smeary jug the interviewer added some water.

‘I was speaking metaphorically, but yes, absence of interruption was the motivation. Space to think in, silence to write in. When I first came to the islands I thought I’d come far enough for those. I hadn’t. So I came to this island. But it was no good down in the village. Worse, in fact.’


‘Worse than the city. Oh, it may seem quiet, but it’s close quarters. Any noise, however slight, is amplified tenfold. When the ferry arrives it’s unbearable. Speaking of which, you have one hour. So when this place came up for sale, it was the obvious solution.’

‘It certainly is a splendid location, but I imagine the track must be difficult in winter.’

‘Impossible. I don’t mind that. One has to keep replenishing supplies, that’s all.’ He nodded at the bottle. ‘And I have a freezer.’

‘You seem to cope admirably.’

‘Don’t patronise me.’

‘What I mean is, most people would have given up after one year, let alone twenty.’

‘Most people are soft.’

‘And do you really think you’ll stay? There must be a lot of physical work,
especially for someone on their own. What if you’re ill, or . . .’

‘Or what? Too decrepit? Is that what you’re too polite to say?’

‘We all have to face it eventually.’

‘Then I’ll retreat, as far as I must. Actually, if it comes to it I’ll go straight from here to the city. One move. Game over.’

Through the window lay the vast, flat, deceiving sea, and other islands floating on it.

‘I’d better be off,’ the interviewer said, but he did not move. His glass was not empty. He estimated that if he walked fast he need not leave for another ten minutes.

Reader: Charlie West
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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