Tuesday 2 June 2015

On the shores of a placid lake

Don't make waves on still waters

There is a school of thought that says evolution went downhill as life crawled out of the waters, others disagree of course, but coming from an island, unlike our poor landlocked European neighbours, we Brits have always gazed out over the seas.
Like pretty much everything else we do, we don’t really know why, but we know that we rather enjoy it.
It is no coincidence that it is not just our coast that fulfills our aquatic affections, the most glorious part of England is the Lake District, which in a moment of eccentricity only has one lake. There are many large bodies of water, but because of our diverse culture, aided by various invasions the only Bassenthwaite is an actual lake, the rest are mere’s or waters.
So, for almost fifteen years, I lived and worked on the Cumbrian fells where I enjoyed the calm, peaceful views, and inhaled the pure mountain air.
Then I made an appalling error. I came down from the hilltops into the world inhabited by humans. Worse than that, I came to Brussels, where I now sit going through an avalanche of press releases that basically fall into three categories; People saying that the EU should give more money to people like them; Invitations to events so excruciatingly tedious that reading the email is enough to induce suicidal thoughts; and mass mailings from people who nobody has ever been interested in.
With this in mind, we should all salute a humble and heroic figure, Steve Feltham.
Steve has been on the shore of Loch Ness watching for Nessie, the local monster, continuously since June 1991, and no, he’s not a lunatic.
He was working putting up burglar alarms for his family business in Dorset. Being a friendly and likeable fellow he often got chatting to his often elderly clients and noticed that many told him, that they wished they had done something, like go to America, climb Everest and so on at his age.
Not wanting to have regrets in his old age, he asked himself what he really wanted to do with his life, and deduced it was Nessie hunting. He left his home and partner. He bought an old ambulance and drove to the lake and began his lookout. After a while the van packed up, so he resigned himself to a stationary watch for the next decade.
He’s still there, still hasn’t seen a monster but has no regrets. He has managed to get his own postcode and the local council decided that he could join their ranks of taxpayers, but he lives without electricity or running water, although he made the happy discovery that the local pub has an outside tap.
He gets an income from selling Nessie models that he makes during rainy days.
He is always welcoming to journalists and tourists, but although everyone is interested in monster sightings, he thinks they’re missing the point. “If you have a dream to do something, no matter how harebrained others think it is, then it’s worth trying to make that dream come true, I am living proof that it might just work.”
Asked about retirement, he says that if you’re spending your time looking at a large body of water in such superb surroundings, “it’s hard to see what there is to retire from.”

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