A Letter Home

Gorey Community School

The Royal Alfred Marina,

Port Alfred,

South Africa.

25th December 2018.

Dear Emily and Diede,

Happy Christmas to you both, from Port Alfred! We arrived safely, after eleven hours in a hot and stuffy aeroplane. The flight was full of noisy adults and screaming babies, but eventually, we landed in the tiny Port Elizabeth airport, and not a moment too soon! Port Alfred Marina, where we are staying, is unlike anywhere else in the world! It is an enormous site of island homes, with each house having its very own waterfront! There’s no waiting for buses or trains here, we simply hop into our speed boat, when we need milk and bread! You would both love it here in the endless sunshine and warmth of the local people. Yesterday, guess what? I had my first ever speed boat adventure without Mum, Dad and Nicola! Leaving my wheelchair docked on dry land, they lifted me into a spectacular Yamaha 242 limited E-series! Facing frontwards, they placed me behind Captain Johann, a fit and strong body-builder type who spoke an interesting form of Afrikaans in an even more interesting thick Yorkshire accent. My ventilator, me, my suction machine, strapped in tightly, were ready to go wherever this funny Yorkshire man was going to take us! Slowly at first, we pulled out into the marina, then without warning Johann, turning crisp and sharp bends at high speed, head on a smooth straight path towards the Indian Ocean. Port Alfred’s glorious East Beach, on the seaward side of the Marina, is such a sight to behold. It stretches for miles, long and sandy, curling around the edge of South Africa like a delicate, winding snake. With the cross-winds in my hair and the sun guiding us to adventure, on we drove, far out into the blue-green hues of the deep. Beneath me coral flashed underwater pinks and muted reds, fish turned rainbow silver in gliding-arched twists and the frothing foam waves splashed my face and for the first time in my life, I felt free, like a bird soaring overhead, free of the chair and all that goes with the stupid thing. For one glorious afternoon, I was Captain Matthew, I was Pirate McGrath. I was the sea and the sky, the sounds of the breeze, the light between clouds. My assistant, the Yorkshire buccaneer and I were out on the high seas seeking treasure. In our minds we, the two marauders, saved mermaids from execution, stole gold bullion to feed the poor, found pearls as big as footballs, and on we went, diving into rainbows, laying claim to long forgotten islands. We fought other pirates, we swam with the whales, dolphins, sharks; we explored lost ships, one-thousand years deep and we swore swash-buckling oaths that we would stay there forever.

Eventually, as the sun dipped low in scarlet and orange, we returned to the Marina of Port Alfred, where Mum and Dad and Nicola, stood waiting with my chair.

Your brother, Captain Matthew.