Island Hideaway 11 - The Finnish Scallop Industry
I had google to help me. I was a google addict anyway, it was my main source of information on all the things I wrote about, whether I was knocking out an article on Swedish landscaping, the Finnish scallop industry or an historic piece on wartime vehicle maintenance, google was my oracle, the source of all knowledge. Shakespeare had his sailor friends in taverns, Graham Swift had his library, I had the greatest source of information (and disinformation) in the history of the known universe.
I didn't google Mo though, or Andy, or the company Mo worked for, I was careful, there might be people watching, not people, of course, but computer bugs, scanning computers, trying to find clues as to where Mo had gone, noticing and noting all searches for her name, or Andy's name. Mo had gone dodo, she was in hiding, and what better place to hide than here, an island that wasn't on most maps, and was on some maps four times, in different places, all of them wrong.
I became an expert on changing drips and maintaining the medical equipment required for a coma patient and what to say to coma patients to encourage them to get better.
I let the island go, during Mo's stay, I no longer had time to fix the pathways, amuse the dodos, clean the beaches, I had too much to do, my writing took up a huge chunk of the day, and now I was Mo's carer, her constant companion, her nurse, her entertainer, her world. That night I made a vegetable curry, like the ones I used to make for the shared house when we were at university. I wasn't vegetarian, but a couple of the housemates were, so I cooked vegetarian food throughout my university years to the extent that when I moved to the island it was all I knew how to cook. I tried cooking for one, but I had no idea of the portion sizes, it just didn't work, I'd used one onion for my six-people curry, what should I do just cooking for myself, a sixth of an onion? Every vegetable posed a similar dilemma. And as for the pinch of salt, what is a sixth of a pinch of salt? After a few unsuccessful attempts, I decided to continue to cook for six and to freeze the remaining portions. It meant that I only had to cook one night in six.
I took the curry to eat with Mo, again hoping that the smell of it, the sound of me eating it, the whole curry experience would somehow reach her, through her deathly shell. I'd lure her from her coma with a really nice Korma, I joked to myself, though it wasn't a korma, it was a Balti. For dessert I had the last slice of the chocolate and beer cake I'd made the previous week, back in the distant past before she'd arrived, while I was still alone, with time to bake cakes. Finding the cake a success I'd submitted it as a recipe for a brewery's newsletter, though if truth be known I'd used a different beer and wasn't sure if the one the brewery made would work.
After cake I read out the next section of the ship wreck book, which primarily concerned a warship from the Napoleonic era. If I sound vague it was because the author couldn't be certain as to the ship's history, it was of Portuguese design, but the fittings were, of all things, British, though the only surviving artefacts were mostly French. To top it all the anchor was Russian. How did that get there? I asked the room. The room didn't reply.
I read the next three chapters, pausing only to go to the toilet and to pour a glass of beer. It has a nice hoppy smell, I wafted it under Mo's nose, her cute, stubby little nose. No reaction.
The next chapter was about a sixteenth century sailing vessel that set out from Hull and had sunk several hundred miles away in an isolated location in the middle of the Atlantic far from anywhere. How the wreckage was found in the first place was never explained, there seemed to me to be no reason in the world why any diver would be messing around on the ocean bed out there. The chapter included a detailed description of sixteen century whaling equipment, as well as extracts from contemporaneous whaling stories. It was a hard, lonely life, but whale oil was the petrol of its day, and human life was nothing when compared to the lucrative lure of blubber.
The final chapter I read that night was about a world war two merchant ship that had been sunk by a U Boat just outside Southampton. The author had been commissioned to find the vessel by the family of one of the crew. It proved to be the most straightforward find of the author's career, there being a detailed account of where the boat was when it was attacked. However, though many artefacts were complete and in good condition, the chapter held none of the interest of the earlier finds. I found my interest flagging half-way through the account, and I wasn't the one in the coma.
I checked Mo's tubes and drip and bedding and went to the toilet. I made myself a hot toddy and watched a TV show on the internet, I forget which. I looked in on Mo one more time before retiring to bed.