A Whale on a Norfolk Beach

Christopher Lee - photo (1)

23 January 2016

Norfolk, England

We stood around the dead body on the beach.  Thirty and something feet of whale washed through the spiteful North Sea to be left stranded to die on a few yards from the rotting wooden timbers of an old boat wreck.

Hands stuff in pockets and wooly caps pulled down.  Neither of us had seen a beached whale.  In the Atlantic we’d seen one off the starboard bow and laughed nervously as thar she blew her spume into that sea’s miserable mist. Then it was shiny  bible black with a tail that could have touched down a Boeing. Now this one was flat slate grey with the lifeless shape of a giant blubbered harmonica with the slim ten foot jaw line that in all the best pictures was supposed to smile as friendly as a sea life dolphin.

There was a draught of old sea spray and a turning away into its lee and so away from the giant beast when there was something else in the helpless spectacle.  It was as if there was in that unknown creature something else.  It was dead all right but it’s prehistoric form held a live mystery.  Like some unbelievable voice of meaning there is something disturbing in that form as if in the deep dark innards there had to be something that was not dead.  Maybe waiting for another tide. That could not be.  But on that Norfolk beach lies much more than a death in Ahab’s line.


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