Every year in Teignmouth on Boxing Day is the ‘Walk in the Sea’, a fund-raising event for the Lifeboat Service (RNLI). My previous blog on the Compass Rose reminded me of a poem I had written in 2012 after that year’s Walk in the Sea.
There is tremendous local support for the Lifeboat service whose volunteers go out any time to help those in trouble on the sea.
We Honour Them
Just feel the nervous tension in the air,
that apprehension of the icy chill to come.
Groyned into that patchwork shore
beside the strutting pier;
idle jawing, banter,
laughter that dispels the fear of the fun
and heightens, oh so much, the fun of fear.
In fancy dress.
Penguins, pirates, deck of cards,
snowmen, santas, elves
with shards of Christmas cheer in mind.
A pair of naked chefs
with apronned front and monogrammed behind.
Standing, mingling, shivering aloud,
quivering in the steel-sharp wind
that keened through struts and watching crowds.
And then at last the final countdown;
ten, nine, eight ….. right down to one.
The klaxon’s blast
that signalled now the time had come
to test our hearts, our lungs, our mental strength
in dashing through the crashing waves
the length of Teignmouth beach
on Boxing Day.
We strode, we braved the bone-chill seas,
we seized the day
and leapt the breaking foam.
We dived, we plunged,
we lunged, we ducked, we screamed.
Our muscles groaned.
Our rictus gasps sucked in the precious air.
It seemed that we had conquered
and the sea could not constrict us there.
But we were safe,
ten, twenty metres from the shore.
We could still stand.
What’s more we knew
that help was always close at hand.
And we knew our time was short;
three minutes, four,
perhaps as much as five.
We would survive.
But by this simple act of fun
remember them –
those who daily brave the power of the seas
to bring us fuel,
to bring us food,
to bring us goods,
to bring us all we need.
And when their ships go down
in storms too terrible to know,
or shatter on forbidding rocks,
we send more men from town
to rescue them.
Men with families themselves.
Local men, everyday men like you and me.
Brave men who live a sailor’s code
to rescue, save, retrieve, return to home
all those in peril on the sea.
And with this simple act of fun
on Teignmouth beach on Boxing Day,
with every nervous laugh and screech
we honour them,
we honour them.
Want to know more? Check out Teignmouth Lifeboat Service on this site