When we go camping nowadays we don’t bother with the paraphernalia of cooking, stove, stand, gas cylinder, pots, pans, utensils, washing-up bowl, cutlery, seasoning, et al. Our children are grown, we can eat where and when we like, so we just take an electric kettle, some mugs and a teaspoon. Some of us enjoy a lie-in and we both enjoy a local brunch so there we were, sitting on a bench on the quayside beside a moored yacht with all its wires, masts, sheets, yardarms and whathaveyou. We had a fresh bacon and egg bap, smelling divine, mine with a dollop of HP sauce, and a coffee each. The sun was out, Padstow harbour was not overly crowded and we were feeling good, like we were on holiday, which of course, we are. Ever mindful of my shirt front and clean-on-this-morning shorts when biting into a brown sauce-enhanced bacon and unburst eggy roll, taking a first bite takes some planning but when I did it was indeed delicious. With yolk and sauce running down my chin I had thought the next bite would pierce the yolk, not this first one, so now things started to get messy. My shirt, however, was still in pretty good, freshly-laundered condition so I felt I was doing rather well, so far, mid first chew but with plenty more opportunity to embarrass myself and my wife yet. In truth I thought I had all the bases covered, sitting bent over so any delicious drippings would fall into the paper bag the breakfast had been served in, paper serviette in hand in case of any unexpected eggy expurgations. I had been trained my whole outdoors life for situations like this and I was good at it. The HP sauce was adding just the right level of spiciness to the first smokey bacon and gooey egg mouthful. God was in his heaven.

I had not reckoned on Jonathon. A superbly-practiced, almost-military flying operation was undertaken whilst my attention was focussed on my dripping bap and its environs. I had no chance. Two Jonathon protégés, under full throttle battle formation, dived for a very obvious and tasty brunch for themselves and I simply didn’t see them coming, from behind me, out of the sun. The first came at bullet speed over my left shoulder. It grabbed for the roll, managing to take the whole remaining bap top, then side-swerved with its prize through the yacht wires and onto the harbour where it was quickly set-upon by its rather less-able colleagues, screeching and flapping for their undeserved share. The egg was a casualty, unfortunately, falling onto the quayside in front of me yolk-face down. In mild shock and just as I was reaching for it Jonathon’s wingman arrived at similar supersonic speed, scratching my cheek with its wing, intent on scooping up any jetsom from Its leader’s attack but as I had already lowered the remains of the bap and its still intact bacon slice out of its reach it missed its breakfast before also expertly swerving through the yacht wires to the harbour, happily for me this time, empty-beaked. George, on the other hand, sitting ever-expectantly in front of us, thought the lowered remaining open bacon half bap was being offered to him and, despite being rather surprised by my unusual generosity nevertheless gratefully bit off a good chunk whilst Rupert, our other ever-vigilant dog, polished-off the egg from where it had landed in one quick swallow. All the action took just seconds and I’d been completely overwhelmed and suckered, again, by the animal kingdom. (Don’t ever leave me alone in a safari park!) With everybody else involved chewing and screeching and enjoying the spoils of war I was left sitting with a small piece of remaining dry bap between my thumb and forefinger. i had been soundly beaten and threw down the fingerful and turned for my coffee, knocking it over. I slumped back on my bench, wryly acknowledging defeat, much to the bemusement of wife, Jonathon and everyone around me.

(* “Jonathon Livingston Seagull”, Richard Bach, 1970)
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