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The Coastline.

A Letter:

Governor of Ex and Umbagollah, Madame,

I wants to complain about the ships' captains round here. None of them'll sail with me. Me I'm an excellent sailor an fisherman with nine years experience and has sailed on four ships, all of em gone down while I was on board and me the only survivor. Now they call me unlucky. I says, "Nah mates, I'm lucky enough, it's the ships that's not lucky - they sank."

First ship ran onna reef rocks in the north. The reef forms a kind of natural wall across the sea, trappin sand between its own self and the land, so the water was shallow here and I was able to paddle for a bit then wade the last four hundred feet into the beach. The whole shoreline is like that up north - shallow and sandy with a coupla sharp rocks. No smooth rocks. All of um are so sharp you could cut your hair with em - longways. Lotsa rockpools when the tides go out. Lotsa fish hiding in the rockpools. They know you can't get to them. They laugh at you.

The beach I come out onto is flat as a tack. It goes on an on to either side. All along the top of the Forest of Ex is one long beach with no cliffs nor aught. The forest beside the beach is quiet as quiet. All I hears is the tops of the trees going su-su in the wind. Reminded me of my old girlfriend whose name was Mary Thumb. Anyways. So you've got the sea on the one side, and it's making hardly any noise, and the forest on the other side making hardly any noise and it nearly drives me mad. I thought, "I got to get away from this whispering shore."

I judged that I was east of the Bay of Ex, so I walked for half a day til I got there. I almost got killed by being thirsty on the way, but I found a stream like a thin shoelace of water comin down a tree trunk. I thought it might be poisin but it warn't.

I got to Ex an then I was OK.

The next time we got wrecked it was down the east coast. East coast's not like the north. East coast's all big blobby rocks and it's windy as buggery. Big waves. A pair of waves got hold of our ship from different ends and folded it up in the middle. I came ashore clawin my way over these rocks. If they'd've been those sharp rocks in the north I wouldve been slit open, but this was more like climbin over bricks. It's not recommended for comfort, but it dont kill you.

There's not many beaches over here. The ground mostly just comes up out of the sea at a steepish slope and the slope goes up higher than a man and then it turns into the countryside. I swam alongside one of these slopes for a good half-hour before I comes to a beach and it was a pebbly knobbly beach at that. It hurt me feet cos the sea had taken me shoes off. No rockpools here, just big stones rolling around on the sea bed and I hear them knocking together, "Tonk, tonk," while I'm swimming. I thought a fish was chasin me. I can hear em when I'm standing on the beach too, this deep slow "blonk blonk" underwater noise.

So I'm standin on the beach with half me clothes off and the sea is goin 'blonk' and the wind is trying to take the rest of me apparel away to give to its grandmother and I start walking inland but I'm in despair cos nobody lives in the Hills except a few weirdos. But then I come across these lights in the distance and I says to meself, "Oi," and it's the house of a Duke called Charmin or something and I'm saved by him and I faints on his divan in me wet knickers with the purple stripes. I wish it had been me all-black ones but we can't be too fussy about these things, that's what I think.

That's the east coast.

Now, down south it's a lot different. Bein wrecked there is like eatin honey-cakes. There's clear water and beautiful sand everything's nice, you know, everything's the way a beach is supposed to be. The rocks aren't too sharp and there's always a village nearby to you, or a Mum from Gum Gooloo takin her kiddie for a walk along the edge of the sea, and there's mussels in the rocks so even if there was nobody else around, you could still have a good feed. There's lots of little freshwater streams too, running down from the river. You never go hungry or thirsty in the south. I'd like to get wrecked there again some time.

The west is all cliffs, big, big cliffs and headlands and massive bits of rock what used to be cliffs, all standin in the sea up to their ankles and sayin, "Oo dear me, aren't we gettin wet." If your wrecked here, all you can do is try to find a bit of land at the groin of two cliffs - imagine two cliffs comin together like two legs and me sittin in a cave at the top of the V shape. You sit there til the sun comes up and you can climb up the cliff to your freedom. That's what I had to do. It hurt me arms something ferocious. I never want to do that again. From the top these cliffs are grand and wonderful and and wild and people say they're magic to look at, but I bet those bastards never had to climb up one at darkness in the mornin.

I hear the cliffs turn to beaches up in the north part of the Falling Hills, but I've never seen it. Might be where that long north coast beach starts but I dunno.

Now I've done you a service by tellin you all about these coasts an given you knowlege what you never wouldve known without me and I given it to you humbly an with no thought of reward so could you please tell some captain that he has to let me go on board his ship? Cos this is vile discrimination and nothing but on the part of the seafarin fraternity of which I ought to be a right and proper member but am currently bein done in by.

I am your humiliated servant, Vito Younghammock.