10th January: Stanley

2005

The Shackleton made it to the Falklands just in time for last orders. Once the gangplank was down, we raced to the nearest pub – a typically ugly Stanley building on the edge of town, but at least it has a pool table.

Pool is a game I love even when I don’t win. At once, it consists of a mathematical purity of angles, velocity, spin and momentum but also requires a very visceral melting of your body into a perfect Euclidean space. A space where you are lost if you try to measure degrees but rather (if you are on form – and tonight I was) you can feel the angles, sense the cause and effect and even perhaps detect the slight warps in the fabric of space and time (although perhaps this was the table). Tonight, however, this feeling was eclipsed by the wonderful appreciation of a place that was still enough for pool balls to stop rolling. In the empty bar even the monosyllabic bartender was charmingly still. After two months in a shifting, unreal world of water and ice the Falklands now felt intoxicatingly normal.

Outside, the air seemed to have found some peace and was unusually still – we walked back along the shoreline of Stanley Sound, through tussock grass, past Upland Geese and beneath unfamiliar stars.