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The pub's familiar in a forgotten sort of way - a long bar with an open fireplace, a back room where we drank with Yusef's tin-mining mates. But that's all.

Why can't I remember anything else? It's weird. There's no detail, just a sense of familiar space, vague faces crowding around us.

We take our pints of Tanners outside to where a couple of benches catch the sun. There's a car park beyond and beyond that a small field that looks familiar. Below that the cliffs and the sea. We sit down and Marie gets into conversation with a pleasant-looking guy with sandy hair and a generous beer gut. She's friendly like that.

I was a lifeboat man thirty years, I was. Then my back went. Now I'm a lorry driver. Go all over the place, I do. I saw Britain from the outside from the boat, like, so I reckoned it was time to see the inside. Everywhere from Leominster to Glasgow, Penzance to Manchester. I reckon I must have travelled halfway round the world by now, rightly speaking. But life on the boats was great. I can't knock it. Not for a moment. Can't knock it.

A wasp hovers above his pint glass, a tiny hyperactive ingot of sun. He whisks it away. His speech sounds rehearsed, as if he's said it a thousand times. I imagine him picking up women as he travels the country, seducing them with his beery breath and easy body.

I leave them to it and walk into the little field. I have to duck under the line of knickers, striped pinnies and baby's nappies. I can just see the lighthouse down to the right on the cliff. It's disused now, but it used to blink in the middle of the night, its rhythmical light slicing the dark. That, at least, comes back to me. Groggy with sleep and groping outside the tent to pee. And in the morning, tankers clinging to the blue-grey heat of the horizon. We'd had perfect weather, ten days of sunshine. The only rain had been that night we got smashed on scrumpy.

Yusef tossing back his hair and laughing as I try to drive in the tent pegs. They hit stones buried under the soil and bend uselessly. The sun's burned the back of my neck and my tee shirt's chafing. He drags the a little gas stove out of his rucksack humming 'Stairway to Heaven'.

'C'mon Yusef, give me a hand, you're supposed to be a engineer.' 'Mining engineer. That's civil engineering, man!' * Touch by Graham Mort is published by Seren at pounds 7.99 > CONTINUES TOMORROW
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 23, 2011
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