I set off for a challenging two-mile coastal walk. Probably not challenging for most people, but this was involving climbing up high then descending onto a beautiful deserted bay that can only be accessed on foot, a challenge for me. It was scary at some points as the wind was up, would I get blown over the cliff tops? Would my knees cope with the steep drop down? Would my phone get signal to phone the coastguard if I couldn’t climb back up out of the bay? And if not how long would my hotel biscuits, that I’d packed in my bag for emergencies, last for?
At many points in the walk my little miss negative kept telling me I couldn’t do it. I had to keep reminding myself that I could, and when I couldn’t convince myself I resorted to bribery. ‘If you climb that cliff you can have an ice-cream.’ ‘If you make it down there you can have an ice-cream.’ My inner five-year-old responded to the ice-cream bribe, and I climbed, scrambled, and completed my walk.
Walking back to the bay that I’d started from, all I was thinking about was my ice-cream reward, my prize for being an awesome adventurer. Guilt free too as my Fitbit was telling me that I’d burnt eight hundred calories on my walk. I was a smug adventurer. I felt epic.
At the ice-cream kiosk I requested one scoop of rum and raisin. The lady asked if I wanted a flake in that. Feeling like I’d trekked from outer Peru, I declared, still smugly, that yes, I would like to have a flake in that. That was my mistake right there. Floored by a flake.
Holding my ice-cream in my hand, like an Olympic torch, I started strolling off towards a bench along the promenade. I was going to take a deserved seat, relax in the tranquil setting, and savour my rum and raisin heaven. I was going to do that, but that never happened.
My mugging happened so fast. I felt a smack on my head, a blackness in front of my face, and my ice-cream was snatched from my hand. With my hand still in ice-cream holding pose minus the cone, I realised I’d been attacked by a seagull. The smack on my head was its wing, the blackness in my face was its fat body. I’d screamed loudly when I was hit on the head, which drew the attention of a couple on the beach and two pensioners behind me. I wish my natural reaction hadn’t been a loud scream. I wish I hadn’t drawn attention to what happened next. I have never been so ashamed of myself.
As the seagull lifted the ice-cream, via the flake handle, with its mangy webbed feet, the flake snapped in half. My ice-cream plummeted to the floor, presenting itself at my feet. All the build up to my ice-cream, the longing, the desire, the deservedness, the anticipation, all lay at my feet on a dirty walkway. My emotions exploded at the seagull, still flapping by my head, brandishing half a flake at me. I swore. In public. ‘Bastard!’ I shouted at the seagull. Aggressively. Just as loud as my scream. I was instantly mortified at myself. I’d let myself down.
The intrepid heroic explorer had been replaced with a potty mouthed fishwife. I could feel the pensioners disapproval boring into me. A lady on the beach laughed, then covered her mouth to disguise this. I picked my ice-cream cone up. Taking a tissue from my bag I wiped down my ice-cream to removed traces of the pavement. I then walked to the furthest bench on the beach to eat it. Steven the seagull followed me. Bastard. As I sat on the bench he landed at my feet. I told him ‘you have got to be joking.’ He wasn’t. He stood there, his greedy beady eyes focused purely on my ice-cream. His eyes were indeed on the prize.
So, my image of relaxing to the sounds of the sea while slowly enjoying my rum and raisin ice-cream didn’t materialize. Instead I got mugged by a seagull, swore angrily in public, disappointed some pensioners, and shoved and ice-cream down my throat in world record speed.
The flake was my mistake.