Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Creatures of the Deep - The Unknown

11:04:00 Posted by Pamela Winning , , , , , No comments
There’s something about the sea that draws me to the coast to admire the view of the horizon. It’s a view I’ve grown up with, being fortunate to have seafront windows overlooking Blackpool promenade for most of my childhood. My travels, whether home or abroad, have involved me searching the nearest coastline where possible and wanting to reach the furthest point, Land’s End, John O’Groats. It may be a bit odd, then, that I find the sea scary.
My earliest fear of the sea happened in Morecambe, probably the late 1950s before I started school. Uncle Roy, who used to swim in the sea every day and had a physique to prove it, lifted me on to his shoulders and waded through the waves. He held my feet really tight and I felt safe up there, but the roar of the tide terrified me and as I became distressed, he took me back to play on the beach with my dad. For a long time I wouldn’t walk on the sea-side of any promenade. The experience instilled in me a great respect for the power of the sea. Any thoughts of the creatures within came later.

When I was nine or ten I wrote a horror story called The Unknown. I had been reading ’20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ by Jules Verne and was fascinated by the creatures of the deep. We were living in Blackpool now and I had my first sea-view bedroom window. I imagined all kinds of ocean-dwelling monsters.  In The Unknown, a massive, green, scaly dragon-cum-dinosaur emerged from the waves, eager to climb over the sea wall and terrorise South Shore, especially me. It was so good, I gave myself nightmares.

There were worse nightmares to come. Around that time I started to watch ‘Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea’. It was a family thing. We’d gather round the television with the treat of a picnic tea in the lounge to see what challenge was in store for the Seaview, a nuclear submarine.  I wasn’t following the plot or the story. I was waiting for the scary bit, the first glimpse of an underwater monster that was causing all the trouble. It was usually a giant octopus that was wrapped round the deep sea vessel, or something with lots of sharp, pointed scales and more teeth than any other creature, had fastened itself to the propeller. It began to fill me with more fear than the Daleks, but luckily, I had Commander Lee Crane (David Hedison) to protect me. In my dreams.

I enjoy the Sealife Centre as long as I don’t have to touch anything or get close up, but I can’t bear the recent images of newly discovered deep sea creatures. They look like something from a low budget science fiction movie or even my own sea monster from The Unknown.

I’ll continue to watch the horizon, the shimmering golden ripples of the sunset’s reflection on a calm sea, or the tempestuous waves crashing in a storm. I’ll try not to think too much about what lies beneath.


The Octopus by Ogden Nash


Tell me, O Octopus I begs

Is those things arms or is they legs?

I marvel at thee, Octopus;

If I were thou, I’d call me Us.


Thanks for reading, Pam x