The Castlerock Diary 3: Brian Wilson & mythical beasts


Desperate for wireless, I have resorted to begging in public places. Castlerock does not seem to be on the map so far as mobile broadband is concerned (though I’m prepared to be corrected by anyone in the know). So I’ve been pleading with local café owners, to see if I can get online while buying their coffee and cakes (I know, it’s a tough deal).

 I went to one place, and they had internet, but only the manager knew the password, and he wasn’t in. I went to another establishment, and they had wireless. The owner handed me all the relevant documentation to get online. Full of excitement and scones, I followed the detailed instructions – which included typing in a password that seemed to contain every letter of the alphabet. But still, there was no connection.


Clearly the little people round here were blocking the broadband signal with their pots and pans. That must be the explanation. They’d left them hanging from spiders’ webs to dry, completely forgetting that the faerie metal interferes with microwaves and radio waves. Or maybe they were being impish (which is what imps do best). Whatever the blockage was, I couldn’t get the wireless experience.

I resorted to basic human communication and started chatting to people instead. That always works best in Ireland. I chatted to the lady who ran the caff, and she turned out to be an artist from California. So naturally, we talked about surfing and The Beach Boys. I told her about the time that my good friend and journalist colleague Jamie Hailstone took me to see Brian Wilson in concert.

I hadn’t really been much of a Beach Boys fan up to that point. But Jamie persuaded me to go. It was life-changing. I still remember Brian Wilson singing God Only Knows with arms lifted up, and face turned towards heaven, as if he was the High Priest of Harmony (which he probably is). We agreed there is something ethereal about his music.

I also told the artist lady about my dream to start some kind of retreat place for creative people – particularly writers – and she was very interested in that. She felt that the area was ready for it. So maybe I was not meant to go online that day. Maybe I was meant to hear that little bit of encouragement from the teashop owner that I could be on the right track.


Having told each other our stories, I said goodbye and retreated to my cottage to do some editing (which will hopefully pay for the cottage rent). Eventually the pull of the ocean got to me. So, before retiring, I had to go out for a little walk on the sand.

There is something intoxicating about this island. You need another wee drop of it before bed. Out on the beach, I saw low clouds scraping across the rooftops like the bellies of mythical airborne beasts, slowly and solemnly heading out to do battle in the skies over the Atlantic. A tiny lone figure on the twilight shore, I watched in silence, mesmerised by these Celtic creatures of the night. (Photo: Clive Price)

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