Wednesday, August 26, 2009


There was no doubt that last week’s Hurricane Bill could potentially affect Cape Cod, but why, oh why, do the network media make such complete fools of themselves when it comes to weather speculation? Last Thursday evening, having retrieved the kayaks from the yacht club, packed most belongings and said au revoir to the Pamet River, I was sipping wine at the house when what was surely the worst piece of weather reporting appeared on ABC News. A reporter was standing on Chatham Beach using phrases such as: “They are on alert and trying to keep people out of the water.” Er. No. They were not. “The water is really churning.” Again, no. It was not. And the best part? It was eighty degrees that afternoon with high humidity, and this jeune fille (one assumes for effect) had chosen to wear a yellow slicker!

Cut to footage of Hurricane Bill’s waves off Bermuda, and then a piece of vintage film of Hurricane Bob hitting the Cape in 1991. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.


Leo is quite bemused! Apparently every time he goes into Starbucks he sees individuals and groups of people wearing funny clothes and tight boots. I pressed him for further details but he simply shook his head and continued to smooth hot foam across my neck. Then it dawned on me. The horse show is in town! The annual Hampton Classic, when huge (and I mean huge) and shining horse wagons arrive from all over the USA with riders of all classes and ages. Great fun? Yes, if you can navigate through the over-priced tat and clothing, suffer the food court and generally ignore the corporate hospitality areas, the inhabitants of which seem oblivious of the fact that riders and their beasts are actually competing in a beautiful sport. One small question however. Is it necessary for men and women to parade on Main Street in their jodhpurs and boots? In the early morning? I think not. Poseurs, ou non?

Enough of Bridgehampton! This time last week I was walking up and down Commercial Street in Provincetown, Cape Cod, and the following was noted:

- Two complete strangers met outside a news-stand, one walking a large, black dog. The other offered to hold the dog on a leash while the first went in to buy his paper. This offer was gratefully accepted. Then came the question, “Is he friendly?” The answer. “No, not really.” I have never seen a man stand so still for what was less than two minutes, but probably felt like fearful eternity!

- A small porcelain plaque on the wall of a house: Those who wander may not be lost.

- Two men walking arm in arm along the street, one greeting friends loudly: “Hello, it’s me! And look at my new hairdresser!”

Saturday, August 15, 2009


After a very busy July/August season this blogger is heading up to the Outer Cape tomorrow. Time to get out of the Hamptons, re-group and re-charge, and write some...

Monday, August 10, 2009


Just a couple of strokes today:

(On the sidewalk outside of Dunkerleys, Southampton.) "I bet the West Side used to be just like this."

(This morning in Wainscott Post Office, where L the clerk had just been serving a woman in her 40s, emaciated with great attitude, who had been telling her that in the morning all she needed was a cup of coffee, two spoons of yoghurt, and ten minutes of yoga.) "I don't care if she has an ex-husband in Palm Beach! That person was not human!

Friday, August 7, 2009


It was her accent that transported me back quite a few years. I was in K-Mart, Bridgehampton. Not a place one would normally associate with memory and nostalgia, but today it became a time portal to 1994. For she, checking out my simple purchases, was from Trinidad, and that is an accent I will never forget, for I spent five happy days there in that long-forgotten year, and reveled in the timbre and vocabulary of the gracious people that welcomed me. The occasion was an official visit by HMS AMAZON as part of our training mission to several Caribbean coastal defense forces who were anxious to learn more about drug interdiction operations. (I have to say that this was in conjunction with the US Coast Guard who on this occasion were tagging along, and I spent two days and nights at sea in one of their cutters named, appropriately, PADRE!)

When not on patrol and shooting up Columbian/Venezuelan/Brazilian fast boats, or any suspected vessel from South America for that matter, officers from AMAZON were personally hosted on the island of Trinidad. My host was Marie, who was the daughter of the government finance minister, and who dutifully enough took me on a personal tour of desperately dull official buildings and memorial parks and monuments. Three hours into this itinerary I asked her what was planned for the rest of the day and the evening. With a painful expression she told me that there was a buffet dinner at the Governor's house, but if there was anything else I wanted to see... I said, "Yes!" I wanted to go down into the centre of Port of Spain and eat there. And that is exactly what we did. Except we didn't end up at a restaurant.

At about nine o'clock that evening, having met up with many of Marie's friends, and then by chance finding Nigel, AMAZON'S Captain, ("God! That buffet was so boring! Tim, thank God I found you!") drinking Carib lager (big mistake!) with the Naval Attache in a bar, we decided to eat. On that street. Out of metal garbage bins! Yes - for that is how street roti is cooked and served in Port of Spain. The method is so easy.

Take one of those metal bins. Pile charcoal into the bin and get it really hot. Now scrub clean the lid and invert it on the bin. Instant skillet! Pile in tons of beef or chicken or lamb, add tons of curry spices and stock, and cook, cook, cook. Spoon onto flatbread. Now that's food!

And after much more of that food, much dancing in a street where there was not a single white tourist to be seen (well, they wouldn't in that neighborhood), and even Carib lager (although I did find a bottle of merlot) we all slept well, and in the ship, woke late the following day.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


It is as if someone, at some point during the past week, threw a switch. Yes, July was busy enough, but now? People and traffic and attitudes have doubled, and it is truly August in the Hamptons. The whole scene and atmosphere is too big, too complex to describe in limited lines, and so two general headers will have to do for starters. More to follow.

On the road. And by the road I mean Route 27, or the Montauk Highway (or the Sunrise Highway if you live out of area.) Between mid-morning and late afternoon traffic will slow to a crawl in both directions. Even the back roads are now being discovered. But guess what? Stop complaining. There’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to sit back and go with the flow, or lack of. And definitely be amazed and saddened by the standards of driving that urban visitors bring to our East End roads. They mustn’t be judged too harshly, for most of what they do is out of ignorance and the fact that they suddenly find themselves outside of the grid of a city. They simply have no clue how to deal with a four-way stop, are baffled by speed limits, and somehow have picked up the notion that the shoulder is a passing lane. Unbelievable but true! Overpowered cars being driven by underpowered drivers? Come and see, but allow extra travel time in the middle of the day.

Restaurants. Forget it, except at the beginning of the week and if you really enjoy early, early dinner. Even if you do get a table (and a table is a table in August. Don’t even think about being picky.) you will probably end up being irritated by the loud and arrogant party at the next table, who think they’re somebody, but actually are merely the loud and arrogant party at the next table.

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