Eileen and Ray, Shared Story
So, there I was, hanging off this cliff. Not exactly part of the day I’d planned. Thank goodness the strap of my binoculars had held. For some reason, a line from Dad’s Army hit my brain whilst I was dangling.
“They make very good binoculars, them Germans!” Only now the strap was slipping, slowly, slowly, through the piece that adjusts the length. No point in shouting, I would never be heard above the gulls.
“Kittiwake! Kittiwake! Kittiwake!” I calculated that I had about 18 centimetres to live, not inches, these were German binoculars after all. My fingers were desperately searching for a hold on the millstone grit but the sea had worn it smooth. If only I had listened to my mother! I don’t know what she said, I never listened. 16 centimetres to go now. I couldn’t get hold of the strap at all to slow it down.
My feet scrabbled against the cliff face, or rather my boots did. My feet were playing cowardy-cowardy-custard and hiding inside the boots. I could hear loose stones and shale bouncing off the rocks below and my heart pounded with the rhythm of the sea. I felt my fingers loosen and I fell down, down.
The strap had given up its last 15 centimetres in one short, fast “Zzzzzzzzp.” I didn’t feel I could fly, I only had time to think “!” before I hit the water, cold and salty, then went under. I know now how difficult it is to breathe water and it’s not that I am a swimmer of any note but I was then and I reached the surface, I saw the stars.
Most of them were round my head, like a bad cartoon but some shone in the sky above.
My saviour had a name, written on every part of their body, the name, difficult to pronounce, was Rnli! Rnli had saved me, Rnli had protected me, Rnli had rescued me. I felt like shouting their name.
RNLI! RNLI RNLI
Rnli was my guardian angel, granted, there were no wings and not a sniff or a sign of a golden aura but angels come in many shapes and sizes and if it happened to be an overweight man with a boozer’s nose and a hook – he was an angel!
© Eileen Earnshaw & Ray Stearn 1st July 2021