The Beach Diaries 2012 – #25
* While the sands fill with coachloads of tourists from London and further afield, their drivers traipse into town in a gang, instinct homing them towards the pubs where they make their nests. Blue working shirts rolled to the elbows, faded anchor tattoos and signet rings — these are men from a bygone England, men whose world never moved beyond images of Frank Butcher telling off-colour jokes about the Indian chap next door, as watched through a haze of beery smoke and tinted glasses. Men like these take me back to my childhood, and my grandad’s friends from the local working man’s club, who smelled like darts players looked and called me ‘Mush’.
* Overheard conversation snippets. A mum, to a group of other parents.
“Saving for a cheap boob-job. Gonna get my titties looking all nice.”
* Reflected in the glass of the café, I realise that there’s an optimum level of wind for me to look my best; a very specific direction and force that lifts me a couple of notches above my natural position on the 10 Scale of Hotness. It’s all about the hair. The fabulous, sexy hair. Get it wrong, and I look like a child’s drawing of a haunted tree, but on the right day, facing the right direction, I’m a goddamn walking music video. As a side-note, I think (one of) my (many) problem(s) is that I actually look deceptively good from a distance. At twenty yards, on a day like this, “Hey, who’s that rock star?!” Close enough for a handshake, and, well, maybe that’s why so many irritated women mumble at me for a lighter before stomping off in a huff.
* Are the disgusting backs of men held to the same fist-pumping “I won’t adhere to your hateful standards of beauty!” pride as that of female body hair? Men who admit to finding hairy legs, muffs or underarms unappealing are misogynist pariahs, but you don’t hear many lady-voices speaking out in favour of men empowering their gender by letting their shoulders and backs grow wild and free. This train of thought is brought about by a quartet of ladies making sneery, giggly retching sounds behind the woolly back of a stranger, and wondering what would have happened had I sidled up alongside and gone “Eww, your forearm could do with a wax, love.”
* A large, Greek dad steers a remote controlled car up and down the prom. People warily hang back as the toy spins in sharp circles, and brakes right at their feet, while passing children are entranced. But it’s harmless fun, and mildly reckless at best. And then — crack — right into ankle of a pregnant woman.
“Sorry!” he says, holding up his hands.
“Watch where you’re fucking going!” she yells, in that manner some people have that instantly gives away how badly they love to make a scene. He tells her to watch her language around his kids; she tells him to fuck off. By this point, everyone is looking, including a mid-40s man who’s stepped out of the shelter beneath the coastguard tower, and stands with his arms folded, looking like he wants to get involved; his body in a constant almost-half-step towards the action, like a dog readying to jump onto a couch.
“Very nice, isn’t it?” says the dad sarcastically, playing to the gallery, “From a mother to be.”
“What’s that gotta do with anything?” she says, and then, pointing at her swollen belly, “She can’t hear it, you stupid fucking cunt!”
The pregnant women storms back to her friends, throwing eye-daggers and leaving the horrible atmosphere in her wake. As the dad fiddles with the little car, mumbling and tutting, and telling his wife not to get involved, the man from the shelter starts to approach from behind. As he opens his mouth to speak, I foresee a white-knighting; a “You can’t talk to women like that!” and a floor-rolling brawl outside of Sharksville.
“Mine’s got nitrous,” says the man, pointing at the toy car, “It goes 55 miles an hour!”
* Overheard conversation snippets. A guy to his partner.
“He can’t even go toilet without her knowing. If he’s in there too long, she says ‘Was that a number one, or a shit?’”
* Two new friends race a toy car outside the coastguard tower. A pair of wives wait patiently. Nearby, a furious pregnant women looks on, seething.
* A mother placates a child eyeing the funfair’s fairytale castle with fear.
“How do you know a monster lives in the castle? Maybe a princess lives there.”
* A pair of old men with thick Yorkshire accents read aloud the dedications on the long bench as they pass.
“Congratulations… Paul and David… on your civil partnership…”
“Pair of queers,” says the first Yorkshireman, giving his friend a hearty slap on the back, as if to say “you won’t top that.”
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