I have always felt more at home by the sea when the land creates a natural harbour around it: limiting its power. I was once travelling around New Zealand and felt decidedly uneasy on the long-straight-coast south of Hastings but at home again when I got to Wellington and the protection of its harbour. Maybe it is one of the reasons I like living in The Captain’s House, as it overlooks the third largest natural harbour in the world.
There is a south-westerly gale blowing today and I can see various ships hiding in Falmouth Bay, tucked behind The Lizard, in the lee of the land, as they “wait for orders” to move on elsewhere. I have been at sea in weather like this and always wished there was such a refuge nearby. Idiomatically speaking, “any port in a storm” may be better than being stuck out there riding such rough seas, but Falmouth Harbour would be my choice. Sadly, poor old Robert Redford didn’t have such luck in his new film, All Is Lost, which we watched at the Phoenix Cinema in Falmouth last night. In the story his yacht hits a drifting shipping container 1700 miles from anywhere in the Indian Ocean and then, after the customary escalation of ordeals that all drama demands, first his yacht and then his life-raft sink beneath his feet. I won’t spoil the ending for you by telling you any more as reviewers seem to think it is a great film, but I’m not so sure; perhaps it is Redford’s turn for an Oscar.
The Phoenix is located in The Drill Hall, just up from The Moor (Falmouth’s quaintly named “square” which is a hub for buses and has a farmers’ market on Tuesdays). It’s yellow neon lights outside signal a 1950s coffee bar interior; we ate nachos and drank beer as we waited for the trailers to end, before being ushered into the theatre and to our leather sofa by a waiter carrying our hot chocolates, just in time for the film to start: not really what you expect in the average “multiplex” these days. The Phoenix is a nice place to go on a rainy day.
Redford’s ordeal reminded me – not that I needed too much reminding – that I’m safe and sound here in The Captain’s House, even during the wild storms that have hit the south west coast this New Year. Looking down on such a fine harbour, which has kept so many seafaring-folk safe over the centuries, is preferable, for me at least, to Redford’s adventure when the wind blows and the sea thrashes about a bit too much for comfort.