Knight Of The Rocks
The wind howled and blew sand in our faces as pebbles crunched beneath our feet. It was the second day of my family's summer holiday and I had joined the local kids as they scoured the coast for treasure.
"Listen to me!" shouted eight-year-old Lucy, brandishing a huge bag of pick 'n' mix. "A sweet to whoever brings me the biggest rock!"
And so we hunted. I found a flat pebble and hurried to show her.
"Silly boy. Not good enough," she said, stroking my cheek. "Use it as bait."
"Yes, bait, dummy. Use it as bait to catch a bigger one."
Grabbing a net and returning to the shoreline, I tied the rock to a string and cast it to the waves. The sea reached for it with foamy fingers and ducked it deep.
I waited. But not for long.
The rocks, much to my delight, were biting well that day. The first big rock escaped but I managed to snare the second in my net. I hauled it up the beach and showed it to Lucy. Her blue eyes sparkled with pleasure.
"That," she said, "is a fine throne for your queen. Kneel."
And so it was that I received my knighthood on that windswept beach, surrounded by children I hardly knew. Lucy dubbed me her Knight of the Rocks and bestowed upon me the queenly gift of a kiss and a mint imperial. Standing high upon her throne, she sent the other kids off to find seaweed wigs while I, as her knight, remained on guard.
And I guard her still - even now, all these years later, as I sit at her hospital bedside, waiting for the tumour to claim my queen.
6 May 2015