Posted by a Contributor in November's Magazine
Dear Mrs MacPickle,
I write to you from the isolated Norwegian island of Morten Harket (population 1) where I am curator of the region’s largest herring museum, located in the once thriving but now abandoned Magne Furuholmen fish mine. Visitors to my museum are few and life here is lonely. If it wasn’t for the seals, with whom I exchange stories, the isolation would be too much. Many a time during our conversations the seals have told of a far off land known as Leith, a magical jewel in the sea, at the very edge of the known world, where the loch ends and the ocean terminates; where the seafield breeze – fragrant with the smell of the sea and fields – brings health and fortitude to all inhabitants.
Seals fanciful creatures and until recently I was inclined to take their tales of this distant Shangri-La with extreme caution. All that changed dramatically following a rare journey to the mainland port of Pål Waaktaar-Savoy.
The place itself is now a soulless and uninspiring sprawl (I remember it when it was all fjords) but I was driven there in search of companionship. And in one of the many bars I fell into conversation with a porpoise, that most reliable and honest of sea mammals. To my joy she told me that not only were the seals’ salty stories true but that Leith was a place she had visited many times and dreamed of one day settling down with her family. She left me that night with a rapturous heart, a copy of The Leither and a burning desire to find and experience Leith. Should I visit Leith? Would it be impossible to return to my old life after tasting its pleasures? Can I rent a room where I can keep a seal?
Hunting high and low,
My dear Scandinavian cousin!
What a treat to receive correspondence from far off lands and to know that word of my humble advice column has reached exotic shores! But in truth I am not sure how much wisdom I can impart here. It is indeed true that Leith is magical – when it is sunny people take their shirts off and shout at pigeons and we now have a sit-in Greggs. That said the decision to travel must come from within, Mr MacPickle always says that in order to find new shores you must sail away from old ones. But pilgrim souls must know their way home too, else they might walk the world singing that U2 song about ‘not finding what you’re looking for. So bon chance making your mind up friend, and look me up if you’re ship ever sails this way! (I could find a berth for your seal if you can’t get it past the landlord.).