Autobiography & Memoir
Seascape -v - Landscape
I had argued with my mother on the Danish island of Bornholm. It was the 1950s and we were staying in the home of Aggie Rasmussen for a relaxing week. I had flounced off carrying my mother's capacious white handbag with God knows what inside. Why? I know not!
To calm myself down, I wandered down to the harbour and the slipway to the moored boats. The harbour walls were steep on either side. The harbour was deep. I loved the colours mauve and purple and gazed enchanted at the swirling purple and turquoise petrol residue on the slipway.
The next moment I was in the water struggling to keep my mother's big bag from going under. A man saw me crying for help and ran over to grab the enormous bag. He got it from my outstretched arm but not miserable little me. I must have been 11 or 12 at the time and gangly wearing braces on my front crooked toothy pegs.
I was flapping about doing a doggy paddle in the slimy water. He held out his hand but the steep wall pushed me further away as there was nothing to grab hold of. He tried again with another man helping but I was pushed, yet again, towards the silent boats.
At last I was hauled out. Wet and crying, a crowd had gathered around the shivering little English girl - ME! No one spoke English so there was no one to comfort or give me a blanket to wrap around my willowy body.
Suddenly my parents came into view leaning over the railings watching the crowd. I waved frantically. The crowd waved too to attract them down but my surprised parents waved back before they realised it was their helpless only daughter in trouble. They thought the locals were being friendly to tourists! Finally someone had to climb the steep steps and in English inform them.
At least my mother got her white bag back safely. She never knew my sacrifice that Sunday late afternoon.
Written West Sussex Writers workshop with Stephane Norgate on 29/7/17