The Beach Diaries #12
* The instant I step out onto the prom, a seagull shits onto my shoulder. It’s the second time that’s happened this summer, and I have to presume it’s the same bird. Gentlemen, I have a nemesis. From this point on, every seagull is eyed with paranoid suspicion. I’ll get you yet, you beaked bastard.
* There’s an army recruitment booth. BE THE BEST, it proclaims, in giant letters. At what? Perpetuating the tiresome jingoistic notion that the greatest thing man can aspire to is combat? That we, as a species, are at our most noble and worthy when we’re armed, for Queen and country? That us lowly, worthless mortals, who aren’t even fit to wear one of those little berets, are meant for nothing but shaking squaddies’ hands with messianic gratitude? “Oh thank you, sir! How ever might I repay you for keeping those filthy, unnamed invaders from our shores?!” I guess a liberal puff like me will never be BRAVE or a HERO. No lines of mourners will bow their heads for my passing coffin.
Just be thankful it rained when Armed Forces Day was on down here.
* A temporary tattoo stall pimps its wares on the promenade. I ponder getting the words “Temporary Tattoo” across my belly. Or perhaps going undercover, like Donnie Brasco, or that bloke who converted himself into a football hooligan in laughable Brit-flick ID, by getting a terrible tribal tat and spending the day ‘on the inside’, as a shirtless lad.
“By 3 o’clock, I’d nailed some proper fanny, and thrown a can of Strongbow filled with piss onto the roof of the shelter.” I opt for neither, and they are moved on for trading without a license.
* Why do families always rock up to where I’m sat when I’ve got the perfect place by the waves? Twenty yards of sand in either direction, and a single dad plants his towel and two small children a literal two feet away. His constant baby-talk voice makes me want to bury myself up to my neck and let the tide take me, like Leslie Nielsen did to Ted Danson in Creepshow. No wonder your wife probably left you, I think, or killed herself, as Single Dad makes over the top “Brrrrrr!” noises in the waves. At “Widdy woo-wa! Widdy woo-wa!” I’m clambering away over the shingle and never looking back.
* “Come and see a car drive sideways!” yells a man through some speakers. We’ve established that I hate cars, but sideways? That’s like they do in movies, down narrow Turkish alleyways, with rogue Interpol agents on their tail. Alright, I’m in! But it’s not like a movie. The car just drifts around the track, while the man screams “Sideways! Sideways! It’s going sideways!” That’s not very impressive, I think, the air thick with tire smoke. I’ve done it myself loads of times, on Burnout Paradise.
* Bald men all look the same to me. Once you totally lose your hair, or shave your head, you’re just an egg with vague features biro-ed onto the shell. How do women tell their bald husbands apart from all the other egg-men? I suppose it’s like when people know which labrador is theirs. That’s why I fear my beautiful locks leaving me. “Which look shall I go with today? And indeed, for the rest of my life? Let us go with… Humpty Dumpty.”
* Two dogs pass with their owner. One, its fur soaked and dripping, and the other, bone dry.
“My brother don’t like the sea,” the first seems to say, “but I fucking love it!”
* A very cheery seventy-year-old woman meanders, wearing a bra as a bikini top. It is red and lacy. And it is see-through.
* Standing in a crowd of people, I suddenly realise I’ve been unconsciously and enthusiastically humming the theme to the Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple films.
* A man with a hairy back sits in directly front of me, and tries to sooth a, frankly grotesque, baby. I’m not being needlessly mean – it’s like something from a Lovecraft story. The tiny gargoyle eyeballs me relentlessly and aggressively over the man’s shoulder, as if challenging me to react and have his bear of a father beat me with fists. It takes all my strength not to do a huge Cosmo Kramer flinch of revulsion. By the time Hairy Back starts doing his own baby-talk voice, and loud “sea noises” that evoke Homer Simpson ‘helping’ Marge get to sleep, coupled with the repulsive little testicle staring me down, I decide it’s probably time to call it a day.