12.55pm Wednesday 18th June Pluto's revenge.
It's hard to describe how I am feeling right now. I am resigned to taking the junior position on this mission. I am happy that Pluto should receive an honorary professorship at Trinity College Dublin for contributing 'a unique body of knowledge to the study of marine science', or so I read this morning in the Cork Examiner. Some people might have raised an eyebrow or wondered how low a university would stoop to get funding even in these straightened times, but not me; I am all admiration and respect.
And, of course, I am happy to have spent hours into the morning of most nights designing the craft which will transport Pluto to the Island. Even though he has rejected outright my idea of strapping together two small surf boards with seaweed. And has insisted on hand-woven Persian silk for the mast when surely Indian would have done the job nicely and would certainly have been more colourful.
Up to this point and despite all these minor snubs and humiliations, I have managed to play my part with humour and good grace.
But the latest news is almost too much to bear.
Yesterday evening I received a text from Rebecca saying that she and Pluto have appointments in Schull on both Saturday and Sunday and so won't be able to do the swim on either of those days.
'An event I have to do,' said Rebecca vaguely, 'I had forgotten about it….important people to meet on Sunday….just have to do it….
Of course what Rebecca didn't tell me then was that Pluto is in charge of her diary. And that, on a whim - or for darker reasons I am now realising - he will change diary entries.
Over vodka at the The Blackbird and with Pluto distracted by the loving attentions of some small children, Rebecca confessed in a trembling whisper that it was indeed Pluto's doing and that she no longer felt her life was her own but could somehow do nothing about it. Such is Pluto's power over Rebecca. It was an emotional moment.
Same day 14.38. The strategic approach.
Napoleon, when faced with similar challenges, as before, say, The Battle Of Austerlitz, would retire to his tent and summon about him his wisest commanders (in this case among them was General Desaix).
Je pense, Napoleon would say brooding darkly, que nous avons un problème.
Mais…. mais -qu'est que c'est la vie sans problemes?
Well, as with Napoleon, we are not going to be defeated. We are now going on Friday morning. Rupert has put back his friends' wedding till the afternoon. I will train at crack of dawn tomorrow instead of on Thursday evening. The tides won't be in our favour, but what the hell.
And Rebecca is going to stand firm.
We're in the Zeitgeist now, Pluto, old chap. Get used to it.
Before these dramas unfolded, I did another swim out from Paradise cove.The beach was empty of people, the tide midway and the sun shining in a deep blue sky. So beautiful.
I swam to the small orange buoy some 400 metres out to sea. I made myself do it. It was the furthest out I had been. Imagination is not a good companion for such a swim. You want to be thinking about kneading bread or even checking your bank balance, because imagining what's beneath, the 30 metres of water, the seaweed which drags gently against you feet (that's what the buoy is for; to warn boats about the seaweed) is not good. The thought that you might have heart attack or even just cramp and no one would be there. Or that you would find yourself swept out by strong currents you didn't feel at all even a minute ago, so that you are suddenly a mile, not 400 metres, out in the deep ocean, too tired to swim back.
Well here I am, so none of these things happened. Once round the buoy - which I touched briefly to prove I had got there - I swam a few metres inland and then lay on my back looking at the sky and listening to the sea rolling gently beneath me, feeling the ocean holding me . You will never get nearer to heaven than this.