This article is taken from Stand 235, 20(3) September - November 2022.

John Vale Notes from the Brink
The weather has settled where I am, settled for dampness, dankness; settled for drizzle so fine it’s virtually mist. It swirls and drifts, day after day, giving everything an underwater feel. Where I am feels like the bottom of the sea. Where I am people float by in marine light. It’s as though I’m being readied for my life ahead. As though I’m there already.


I wasn’t looking for love when I found her. I wasn’t looking for anything. I was just walking. My house is the nearest building to the sea; great for scenic breakfasts on the balcony in summer, less ideal when winter rain is lashing in, finding cracks and fissures, fingering its way inside and spreading its damp imprint across walls and ceilings. At times I feel exposed. And the damage: a lost tile here, a smashed flower pot there – it all adds up. My daughter says I should move, talks about rising sea levels: ‘In fifty years’ time this house will be underwater.’

‘I won’t be around in fifty years’ time...’

She snorts. I’ve said the wrong thing again. She gives me the askance look, slightly theatrical, that her mother perfected during the break-up of our marriage. The narrowed eyes, the jutting chin. The resemblance is unnerving.

‘The value of the place will lessen with the passing of time’, she is saying. ‘You should sell now.’ I shrug, sieving pasta, picturing the house underwater, fish peering in.



‘You should think about ...
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