Photo: Isle of Wight, Mid-November

Isle of Wight This morning, still dark, we set out for the Isle of Wight. Everyone was unbelievably tired. But there was coffee, and a pillow in the backseat, and I had never been to the Isle of Wight before, so there was that.

The sky looked as if a grey sheet had been drawn tight over the island. We got a little almost-lost.

"We're running out of island," someone said, and then we ran out of island and had to turn back the way we'd come.

For a little bit we were in a police station (but that's another story), and a man was trying to apply for permission to (use? buy? operate?) a class-4 laser. He kept saying, "I want to get this settled now." He was quivering, stooped, his hair standing on end. He kept saying "A class-4. Have you written class-4 down? Not 3.9, I already have one of those. Have you written class-4 down?"

"Yes," the policewoman said. "I have." And then she wanted to know why he needed the laser.

"Scientific research," he said aggressively. "Have you written it down? Class-4. It's very important."

She said she had written it down, and that he clearly knew a lot more about this than she did, and that even so he would still need to wait until monday. He said thanks and walked out.

After lunch we walked down a long set of steep stairs, leading to the muddy cliffs below. We faced the sea. Everything was a bit vast: funny how an island can shrink you. I watched the surfers going out, coming in. The water was wild and seething, each wave breaking at random, out of rhythm.