A Breath Of Fresh Air (Off The Wall)

One of the principal reasons for my decision to retire to Torbay was the air quality. Let’s face it, when you’ve spent the first 20-odd years of your life in the grimy North of England – to be specific in Manchester, where some people were said at one point to be so hygienic, they wouldn’t have a toilet in the house; and then the thick end of 30 years in the London area, which was always known as the “smoke”, almost any atmosphere tastes like wine.
Hence, assuming you’ve got enough puff left to cope with the hills, South Devon is the only place to be. Open your mouth and take in a great gulp of the life-giving gas, they said. And I did.
But something’s puzzling me. How is it that, every time I saunter down to the harbour side, the wind is in my face, and yet, when I stroll back uphill, it’s still in my face? This is especially true when it’s raining, and the wind blows the hood on my anorak off the top of my head and I end up with drenched hair.
My regular reader (bless him or her) will recall a story I wrote when the Torbay Times was in print, about a childhood memory of New Brighton, a faded seaside town on the Wirral. Having been taken there at nine years old on a day out by my mother, along with a school friend called Michael, we three encountered a Force Nine gale on the promenade. And, in the 1950s, a Force Niner was not to be sniffed at.
Forty years later, clinging on to a lamp-post for dear life was the only thing that Michael could remember of our joint childhood friendship. For the strength of the wind, or perhaps the lamp-post, had left an indelible impression on the boy. And his knuckles.
I’m guessing that, just as inflation has reduced the pound in your pocket to next-to-nothing in your jim-jams, Force Nine gales are nothing compared with the way they used to be. And, for this, you can’t really blame Donald Trump.
From all this, however, I have learnt something. When it comes to buying a house in Torbay, whatever you do, don’t purchase one with a sea view. The truth is that, if you can see the sea, the sea can see you. And the wind will whisk across the bay and straight through your draught excluder.