The Beach Diaries 2012 – #16
* Monday. Like many in, ooh, the last decade, the day is spent in a thoroughly toxic mood. As I trudge through the rain, I’m swathed in childish Charles Bronson daydreams, where muggers leap from alleyways, slavering with evil, and giving me legal recourse to open their throats with my house key. I wouldn’t wish this broke-arse, frustrated, Dickensian life on anybody.
* Days like these, the notepad acts like a blood-bowl in a medieval pharmacy, stained with the clotted bile I’ve pricked out in a futile bid to cure the sickness. Leeches and needles; short stories and diaries. People talk of weather reflecting moods, and while the sky’s black and sicking a constant stream of unseasonal rain, if it really reflected my mood, the sky would be down around our ears, trying to crawl into the drains where it could be left alone to die in the dark.
* The Olympic Torch is passing through a couple of miles away, and those who aren’t there watching are talking about it to anyone within earshot. “Isn’t it exciting?!” The enforced national pride and Big British Smiles, while the eyes of the world may be watching, reminds me of the seething tension in school when the inspectors were in; authority figures wearing masks of calm and control, but with promises of beatings like you’d never seen raging behind the eyes when you caught their gaze. During London 2012, there’s a soundproof classroom filled with the homeless and the poverty stricken, and those who refuse to behave, down the end of the corridor where nobody ever goes.
* Saturday. My mood is lifted slightly, with my having come straight from the birthday party of a one-year-old. It’s the first day resembling summer after six weeks of floods, and it all feels wrong, just ‘off’, like summer’s invaded where it doesn’t belong; a years-missing child who returns during Christmas dinner, six inches taller with a full beard, and expecting to fit right back in. The distance of depression leaves me feeling untethered. I’m watching myself in third person like a video game. It’s a mixture of my own mental state, the jarring appearance of the sun, and the news of the body that washed up on the shore during the week. Other than the gender, it’s as-yet unidentified, and I find myself worrying about a familiar beach-face I’ve not seen for a while, hoping that a lonely life didn’t end in a lonely death. All week, the almost unbearable sadness of that notion hangs heavier overhead than July’s brewing storms.
* Down the far end, away from people, dogs play in the sea; sniff around me; come to say hello while shaking salt water all over my book.
* Way out to sea, someone stands on a paddleboard. At this distance, the board is hidden beneath the waves, giving the impression of a black silhouette walking on water. Christ returning at last, to tell us to go fuck ourselves.
* A young guy walks in front of me with his partner, dropping endless, casual F and C-bombs over the top of the pram he’s pushing.
“What does ‘free range’ mean, anyway?” he says, utterly free of irony, “The eggs are kept in cages or summink?”
* Sandy the Sandcastle waddles up the prom. Children come running from all directions to wave at, hug, and request high-fives from the poor fucker roasting alive inside that yellow sweatlodge of death for minimum wage. A particularly excited boy of about six waves and jumps and “Ooh, ooh, ooh, Sandy!”s for a hug that never comes, while all around squeal with delight.
Evidently, there’s a blind spot in Sandy’s vision, which the boy is standing directly in. Sandy waves goodbye, and goes to take his leave. The dejected boy — the only one in the large pack of children to be ignored — turns away, sans hug, sans high five. Still in that blind spot, Sandy’s cumbersome pair of red clown shoes tread on the back of the boy’s legs, causing the sandcastle to tumble to the concrete, face-first.
* A recurring face from last season reappears, guarding the waves and stroking a tourist’s dog. I should leave the poor woman alone, I think, in print and in person. It’s good for the narrative, but bad for the self-esteem. The whole thing befouls my mood, and again, I’m feeling like George Costanza, when Jerry points out a beautiful woman, or like how I feel when someone randomly posts Alison Brie gifs into threads on internet forums.
“How does that help me? To see her?”
The complete collection (plus appendices) of 2011′s Beach Diaries are available to buy for the Amazon Kindle for £1.99/$2.99. If you don’t have a Kindle, Amazon have a free Kindle app for PC/Mac/phones/tablets, available right here.