‘I’m wondering if what you are doing to me is actually illegal.’ I can hear Peirene panting behind me. It’s 7.30am on a beautiful sunny morning in Aberystwyth, a picturesque little Welsh seaside town. The Nymph and I are jogging up a steep cliff on the edge of town. ‘There must be a law against this deliberate cruelty.’ She stops gasping for breath.
I wait for her to recover. In front of us stretches the blue expanse of the Irish Sea. Pink streaks from the rising sun colour the sky. A stunning, rugged coast line to our left and right as far as our eyes reach.
‘Peirene! How can you say such horrible things. Just because I persuaded you to run up this hill? But look at the view. Wasn’t it worth the effort? We needed to experience this before we are heading into a second day of talks and workshops.’
Literature Across Frontiers who are based at the Aberystwyth Univeristy, have organised a two-day international literature conference on audience development, with delegates from across Europe. We are invited as one of the speakers.
‘I like the view’ Peirene replies ‘but I’m not keen on running. You must remember I’m a nymph’.
For some reason she is now skipping along the path. When we arrive at the bottom of the cliff, instead of walking straight along the corniche, Peirene heads on to the beach. She slips out of her trainers. ‘I’m going for a quick dip,’ she giggles. Then she strips down to her pants and bra and before I can say anything else, she runs into the water, screaming with joy and pain because of the cold. I watch in amazement.
Back at the hotel, she lies in the hot bath for nearly half an hour. After I finish in the bathroom, I discover that she is back in bed, shivering like a delicate leaf.
‘You have to do the second day of the conference on your own,’ she says with shattering teeth. ‘I need to warm up first. And that will take hours.’
I shake my head. ‘Peirene, Peirene. I could have told you that even though the Irish Sea might look like the Mediterranean, it certainly isn’t.’
Peirene is not amused. ‘First you make me run up a hill, then you fail to warn me about the sea in April,’ she laments through chattering teeth. ‘I may have to complain to the authorities after all.’
Image by Walter Stoneburner, creative commons.