Abandon All Hope All Ye Who Enter Here
I’ve been in one or two fixes in my time, all through no fault of my own, but nothing quite prepared me for life on the island.
I was just twenty-one years old and feeling adventurous. So I set off to explore the world. Talk about an innocent abroad.
I had just got back from hitch-hiking through France and Switzerland, where I came far too close to being shot in the back by a Swiss border guard by inadvertently illegally crossing the border.
It is no fun having an SG550 assault rifle poked in between your shoulder blades by a man trained to kill I can tell you.
Two hours later, after having all my belongings gone through and a Swiss finger un-sympathetically inserted up my anus poking around for drugs, I was out of there.
In the end, I was frog marched outside and ordered to re-cross the border back into France, have my passport checked and then re-enter Switzerland legally.
Amazingly this was all achieved by the simple expedient of crossing a white centreline down the middle of the road. There was more to come on that trip, but this is about the island.
I can’t tell you the exact location for the island, because although all this happened over forty years ago, there could still be consequences.
Apart from the authorities, there are those involved to think about. And those kinds of people don’t mess about, even if they do manage to make old bones. Those types of people hold more grudges than lonely high court judges.
In the end I felt like that guy in the novel, The Thirty Nine Steps. I got caught up in something which resulted in two distinctly different groups out to get me. Neither group had good intentions for me, I knew that much. And all I was guilty of was of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Having been born and brought up on an island, all be it quite a big island called the United Kingdom, I am used to a certain type of closed-minded mentality. However, it seems to me that the smaller the island the more concentrated is what can be quite crippling and debilitating closed-mindedness.
This is the sort of mental or psychological twisted thinking that says it’s ok to have sex with your sister, or any female in your own family, even if it produces offspring.
And it also seems to give the green light to all sorts of other dark and weird stuff, like thick and threatening plots to kill folk. If I had known all of this before-hand I would never have gone there in the first place.
Then I would never have had to run for my life and spend many years looking over my shoulder. As they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Looking back now I can see a lot clearer how easy it is to get innocently sucked into something dark and dangerous. To do so and live to tell the tale from a safe distance in both time and place, well this is sometimes a rare stroke of luck not afforded to all who find themselves in a similar position of vulnerability. You live and learn, if you’re lucky, I suppose.
The big bright yellow Sea King helicopter that was to take to me to my biggest nightmare gently rose as the noise of the whooping and whooshing propellor seemed to get noisier and yet quieter at one and the same time.
The pilot slowly drifted us over the adjacent railway line just as a train came into the station a few hundred yards further on. It sounded like we might have barely missed a train carriage roof by no more than a foot or two. For me, it was a close call that I would later see as a forewarning of what was to come. But for now, I was on my way to what I hoped would be a new adventure for all the right reasons.
Down below I could see the crashing waves of the sea as they moved inexorably towards the shore. The time would come when I would wish it would wash me away forever, but for now, I was enjoying myself. And within thirty-five minutes we were safely coming in to land on the main island. From there a thirty-five-minute sea crossing in a small boat would take me to the island from hell. There were no warning signs to be seen anywhere to warn me of the impending doom and gloom that was to befall me. I simply went along with the ride. There should have been a sign that read something like “Abandon All Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.”