30 January 1790 – The first specialist lifeboat is tested on the River Tyne

woodblock print of a boat

Under the covers it is dark and warm, but it is crackling. A charged space. Snaps and squirms and peals of laughter and muffled shouts. A press of bodies, backs bent, arms akimbo, fingers seeking out those vulnerable spots that lead to laughter. Gabe, who knows that I am only ticklish on the soles of my feet, is already worming his way to the bottom of the bed, rucking up the sheets and blankets about him as he goes. But he is caught and held and as I have him he is nothing but ticklish spots, too many places for a nine-year-old to defend: ribcage, belly, armpits, kneepits, feet. Or even his neck where – a few days since my last shave – I press my bristled chin gently. And Jake is sprawled across all of us – Lyndall, Gabe and me -– having kicked this whole thing off with an embrace that ensnares us all fiercely and it is inevitable from the get-go that someone is going to get tickled and someone is going to be doing the tickling. And that someone will trade places with that other one many times before this is over. Before we all rise to meet the day.

File under:  saturday morning lifeboat | with luck and good timing you may come through this only slightly scathed

(Image source: avrosys.nu)

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Stories and other writing by Ben Thurley

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