The swirl of a Mr Whippy 99 and the inviting sweep of the cliffs contrasted roundly with the dry square pointedness of my primary school classroom.
Padding along cliff paths, humming the tunes a handsome chap from the beach mission played on a glorious accordion, I was aware, even at five, that I learned more readily, lived more fully, when my own imagination was afforded space and acres of time in which to fly free, to be on pilgrimage, to wonder – or as students of Zen have long noted, simply, NOW, to BE.
The roar of cascading waves was for me so much less jarring than the stern calls to attend to multiplication tables, or incomprehensible, ill-experienced ‘comprehension’. The throwing of sticks for deliriously happy dogs – spaniel ears flying in the wind – was altogether more fulfilling than the jolt of the schoolmaster’s cane cracking the old mahogany desk – bouncing inkwells – or the chalky calves of his dark pin-striped three-piece suit.
Rock pools and small fishing boats taught me most about oxygen and marine life, hard work and skill, navigation and perseverance. The ancient church (in my case) at Pistyll, with its straw-strewn floor, spoke to me silently of the music of incomprehension, of all that may not be wholly apprehended, and of the bardic pilgrims who had come and gone before.
Colourful kites were my professors of aerodynamics. The aforementioned accordion my teacher of poetry, soundwaves, wind and joy.