Give us the wet sand look, said the woman.
I was measuring up as a bespoke coverer for the good or the rich. Carpet-layer and wall-hanger. That’s me.
Wet sand look?
Yes, she replied.
She explained what she wanted. A few throw-rugs for the hall where the bagpipers for the wedding would stand. Giving the impression of a storm-tossed beach after the tide had gone out. Not just runnels and wrinkles or ribs of sand, but large cracks, even chasms. And items of sodden flotsam fit for the occasion. And rock pools where people could sit and fish. After the dry heat of the wedding ceremony, the dampening, I guessed, as I visualised many of the audience soothing their psychologically charred areas with the sight of mock wet sand.
We worked all day. Myself in charge of several wefters, warpers, woofers and loomers, putting the gritty crunch into ravels and skeins of teased thread, worried wool, coarse cotton and paddled knitting.
The lady eventually returned to inspect our work, her face seemingly cut to ribbons, with a costume of cooked skin. She had been at the stove all day, it seemed, dealing with the catering side of things. Her way, as mother of the bride, of being useful. She cast a cursory look at all us workers, knee deep in rugs and mats and tasselled fragments of carpet. A strand indoors. A maroon party.
Is this wet sand enough? I asked.
She did not answer, as she bent to inspect it more closely. She almost vanished into certain sections of it.
Luckily I escaped before the bagpipes started moaning.
But it gave me an idea, as I recalled the lady’s cooked skin and accidental knife marks over large parts of her skin, after she finished peeling the vegetables. How about utilising real wet sand from the local beach as a healing substance. I could sell it for its ability to assuage burns as well as cuts. Even possibly as a poultice for spiritual wounds? Or other mental troubles?
There was certainly plenty of sand near where I lived, and I would only need water to make it wet, if it wasn’t already wet. I wouldn’t need to keep a stock like I did the carpets and other fabrics. The beach would always be there, with an endless supply. What could possibly be the catch?
One couldn’t take things for granted, however. So I decided to try the wet sand on myself. I went down to the beach, like the kid I used to be in the 1950s, with a bucket and spade, patted it smoothly into the bucket’s inner neat shape of space, and carried this sample back to the house and applied it on the face as with a cosmetic mudpack. I immediately saw the stupidity of my ideas for wet sand, and went back to carpet laying and wall hanging.