The Beach Diaries #16
* A salon by the river does that treatment where you put your feet in a fish tank and let the fish eat your flaky old skin. If you want to get it done, you have to sit in the window, facing out into the street, so it’s part “ treatment,” part PT-Barnum-on-Loose-Women freakshow. The whole thing is all a bit “That urban legend about the lady, the dog, the peanut butter, and a surprise party” for my liking.
* Overheard conversation snippets. Five-year-old boy, to his father.
“You shut up, Mr. Bum-Cock!”
* A laddish lad struts, with a huge case of lager under his arm, cocky as you like. A disabled guy in a wheelchair calls something out to him, but the lad can’t understand his mangled speech. Wheelchair Guy repeats himself, this time with his buddy translating.
“Keep them cold,” he was saying, but the laddish lad still doesn’t understand, so just replies “Yeah…” as awkwardly as is humanly possible. His swaggering bluster, from the moment the guy in the wheelchair opened his mouth, just deflated like a badly tied balloon. Maybe that’s what I need. A wheelchair guy; to make all the cocky lad-men shrivel like nervous penii, and make me look amazing in comparison. I might put an ad on Gumtree.
* Overheard conversation snippets. Passing man, to a five-year-old girl.
“The inflation in our day and age is insane, isn’t it?”
* Walking on the shingle is so undignified. Never are human beings more obviously just meat and ungainly limbs as when they’re staggering over the pebbles like a paralytic scarecrow. The only way to replicate the same level of undignity while walking on a flat surface would be to do so while holding aloft a giant picture of yourself, red-faced and ankle-trousered, sat on the toilet. There’s more dignity in trying to hurriedly wash the freshly-shot jizz off your hands as the postman hammers on the front door than there is scrambling up the hot stones.
* At this point, whatever one has to do to officially quality as a Beach Bum, has probably been fulfilled by me. I’ll be honest, the beach part is pretty awesome; the bum aspect – not so much. But as bums go, it’s likely the aspirational level they all shoot for. Street Bums dream of someday elevating to the status of Doorway Bum, while Beach Bums are at the top of the tree, far beyond the glass ceiling. Look at me now, ma!
* There’s a huge group of French students, all dressed like it’s 1994. When I was at school, we’d laugh about how ridiculously uncool the French kids were, because they’d always wear both straps of their rucksacks over their shoulders. My school’s jungle-like social order had a strict one-shoulder policy, and anyone doubling up would be soundly mocked, or physically beaten. But these days, the double-strap is back in vogue, and doubtless, single-strapping will see you ostracised, with bullying Facebook groups set up in honour of how unspeakably lame you are. Ah, the French. Those bright shirted, baggy jeans-wearing trendsetters. Magnifique!
* An old black dog passes. He has one white paw, like Michael Jackson.
* I spend a little while amused by the antics of Giant Baby Man. At least 220lbs, GBM has a round, almost albino-pale face, with a white blonde goatee, and wears a bright blue t-shirt depicting a surfing meerkat, and cut-off combats. What’s great is that the voice and mannerisms in no way match the size. He has the verbal intonations of an infant, and large, pantomimey gestures. I should point out that he doesn’t have learning difficulties or anything like that, he’s just a giant baby. Giant Baby Man spends most of the afternoon shouting at his elderly parents for various minor indiscretions, like a sulky teen, events which culminate in them briefly losing his son.
“DAD, YOU WERE S’POSED TO BE WATCHING BYRON!” he yells, literally throwing up his arms and stamping. Once Byron is found, GBM is in such a huff that he forcefully packs up for the day, clumsily tearing the tent out of the sand, and sighing so obstinately, twenty yards away, it’s causing my hair to flutter like someone in an 80’s soft rock video.
“JUST TAKE THE BUCKETS, DAD!” he says, in his Pixar, talking raccoon voice, while his wife angrily folds towels. As they leave, GBM throws one final tantrum, about the amount of bags there are to carry back to the car.
“JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, DAD! ALL THESE BAGS!” he says, thrusting them in the direction of his father, and walking off, carrying nothing.
* An old lady points out a trouser stain to her husband, who spits liberally onto a handkerchief and stoops down, arthritically, to rub it off. It must be quite the stain, because it takes two full spit ‘n’ bends before he’s happy.
* Female hipster champ of the day. On the sun-streaked prom, a girl with enormous thighs wears tiny little cotton shorts, and a pair of thick, rubber gardening wellies.
* A middle-class mother sat on the prom sends her son to play on the beach.
“Don’t get hot arms!” she warns.
* Six lads come tearing around the corner on BMXs like the BMX Bandits, circling and popping wheelies, to the wonder of children on the prom, and the general eye-rolling of the adults.
“That is geen!” exclaims a child (as an abbreviation of genius), at the honestly pretty poor display of tricks. One of the BMX Bandits – the only one wearing a helmet – jumps his bike off of an 18-inch-high verge. FAR ROCKIN’, DUDE-STAIN! On landing, his chain comes off, and the RAD XTREME antics grind to a halt, as the bodacious dudes try to fix it, while hunting around on the floor for a nut that fell off.
* Male hipster champ of the day. Heavy woollen sweater. Red neckerchief. French Foreign Legion hat.