The cliffs are falling into the sea. Nobody lives there anymore, except for the foolhardy, the suicidal, and the romantic (though suicides are the most romantic of all). Everyone else has moved inland. So if tourists insist on walking there, and do so at their peril, they stumble across abandoned cottages along the way. Some look like they have been left suddenly, as if the occupant woke up one morning and sensed something ominous, and just packed some belongings into a bag and walked out, forever. One of the cottages near Mariners’ Head still has the table set for breakfast. The edge of the cliff is approaching fast and soon the teapot, the plates and the butterdish will tumble to their end.
The village is still intact, but people are making plans already. The coast road is blocked off and the area has been put on the urgent rehousing list. Residents have always been resilient, and stubborn too. They won’t leave without a fight. But how can you fight the ocean?
Life is mundane, apart from the overhanging threat of destruction. People mind their own business, do what has to be done. That kaleidoscope of colour that briefly appeared, even here right at the very edge of the world, full of MTV and Internet Porn and Kinky Sex Stories and Anne Summers parties, came and went and disappeared without a trace, like the houses that fell into the sea. Sex is for procreation now, and occasionally to keep warm on winters’ nights. The ‘modern’ seems like a distant memory.
But the men of the village are haunted. They do not speak about her, but they know about the girl that wanders the clifftops, who occupies one of the abandoned cottages. They know she can take them back there, without warning, back to that era of debauchery, of pleasure and pain, of instant gratification, extremity of feeling. Sometimes, against their better judgements, some of them even go looking for her. One man went onto the cliffs at night and never returned. The official story is that he drowned, but the men of the village are not so sure.