The cat sits on the window ledge, looking out at the water, staring at the sea as we all do, almost mesmerized by the ever-changing light on the waves. There are accounts of ships in the Race out there swallowed up never to be seen again. The waters of these tides, where they flow over these underwater ledges, boil up and create enormous turbulence. The poet scribbles a note: ‘They say that those who live by the ocean are waiting for something.’ As the lightkeeper waits for the sun to rise in the east, over the Isle of Wight, it feels like a different world, when you’re up there in the lantern, alone in the wee hours. ‘There’s time to think and for the imagination to play with thoughts,’ recalls one. Memories are enhanced by the solitude. As he sits there in contemplation, eight bells in the middle watch, apart from the gentle susurration of the lens itself, nothing is moving.
At night, it’s like being in a dreamlike state, a curtain of stars above, as the light revolves, those prisms sending the light out some 30 miles to sea for the safety of the mariner, regardless of creed, nationality or colour. He thinks of the intricate detail that went into setting them, everyone made by hand in distant Smethwick, designed and shaped for that particular light, carefully polished for many weeks, delicately fitted into the metalwork. Over the decades, many will ascend this tower, look at the structure and simply see a marvellous work of art.
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