The Beach Diaries #17
* A filthy abandoned Furby stares at me blankly from atop a garden wall.
* A thin, chemo-bald mother, her arms wrapped in blood-work gauze and medical tape, plays with her children on the sand.
* There’s an odd plaintive feeling colouring the day’s events. At the start of June, it’s all fun and games, as a full three months of potential beach days stretch in front of you. But now it’s the middle of August, and the piss-heavy cloud of Autumn lurks in the distance, drawing ever-closer. So, we sit, me and the beach, the approaching end inevitable but unspoken, like a married couple chewing through another dinner, silent but for the sounds of cutlery dinging crockery, and knowing there’s no way back.
* An old man does a big yawn, like Chewbacca.
* Overheard conversation snippets. A sixty-year-old man to two teenage girls:
“Have you ever seen that film where Jack Nicholson can’t walk on the cracks in the pavement? Very, very, very funny film. Then he meets up with those two fat gay chaps.”
* A man passes with his friend, furious about the false advertising of a fish and chip shop that claims to deliver, yet refuses to push the food straight through the letterbox.
* A bearded, punkily attired man with pretty severe Cerebral Palsy struggles happily along the prom. He stops at the lifeguard shack, offering out his hand for them to shake it. As the lifeguard reaches forwards to do so, the man pulls away his hand, and burns him with the “too slow” thumb on the nose wave. His old dad, laughing like he’s seen this a lot, playfully tries to make him shake their hands for real, hugging his son from behind and waving his hand like a puppet. As they walk away, the man points at his dad, and does the old “finger circling at the temple” mime for “He’s a loony, that one!”
* Throughout the afternoon, a ridiculously hot blonde jogger repeatedly hurries back and forth, flitting past my vision for fleeting seconds at a time. It’s possible she only does this to fulfil her role as an enormous metaphor.
* A bunch of children seem to be using me as the starting line for a never ending series of five-yard running races. That’s fine, just step all over my bag. The mother is so achingly middle-class, she talks to her friend about a “living yeast,” that you use “just like a chain letter, but with yeast.” Apparently, you tend to it for ten days, use a little bit to make a cake, then past it on. To the next cunt.
As one of the children, all with frequently-called, posho, unshortened names like William, Nicholas and Harriet, screeches right in my ear, I instinctively say “Fucking hell!” really, really loudly. I’m destined to be the old man who lives next door and puts a breadknife through any ball that comes over the fence.
* A passing father helping his child with an ice cream triggers a random memory of a nice man being ever so polite to my toothless grandfather at a wedding, as he spoke about his struggle of chewing sausages.
“Yes,” said the man of about thirty, “they can be quite tricky some times, can’t they?”
* I wonder if Hot Lifeguard is aware of the tick-tock-tick-tock third-act position of the Beach Diaries current narrative? Her habitual stubborn refusal to acknowledge the distant, creepy man with the notepad and immaculate surfer hair does not bode well for the rom-com ending. When this is all over, dear readers, I will fully support any call to initiate a class action lawsuit against Richard Curtis.
* I go to the toilet. On the black plastic of the cistern, someone has scratched the word ‘CELERY’. On the door, is a phone number, with promises of a “TOP WANK!” I’ll be the judge of that.
* A bunch of people gawp at a seagull sitting oddly still on a wall. I push my way through and sit right next to him.
“Why are you sat on a wall?” I ask, like Dr. Doolittle. He doesn’t want to talk about it, merely eyeing me through suspicious slits. Someone takes a photo with their phone. He doesn’t look hurt, so I get up and leave him be, thinking I will check back before I go home.
(Although I should be wary it’s not my nemesis gull, trying to lure me in before pecking out my eyes and doing a third bird-poo in the empty sockets)
* A large group of aghast French students collapse into shrieking, rolling in the aisle hysterics at the sight of a child on reins. I can hear what they’re thinking, and never have I been more ashamed of my nationality.
“You stuffy English. With your not-nude beaches, monogamous sexual relationships, and leading your children around on leashes like actual dogs…”
“I’m not like that!” I want to cry, “Look, I’ll prove how laissez-faire I am by having a threesome with these two old men, whether they want to or not! Cast your clothes to the wind and let the babies run where they must, even if that is straight into heavy oncoming traffic!” But it’s no good. Even as the sort of dreamer who has printouts of an unpublished novel in his bag, and who’d be told “You’ll have to cut that hair and stop dressing like an extra from Point Break” at a job interview, and who only owns a single tie (and got through that by having it be just like the ties in Reservoir Dogs), as I pass them, I can feel each of them visualising the metaphorical bowler hat on my head, and the figurative hands that cup my shy English genitals.
* I traipse back up to check on the seagull. He’s gone. It’s for the best. “Excuse me, Miss, but there’s a bird on a wall, who’s injured, or in the least, quite unhappy. As the kind of Ribena-blooded man-fruit who thinks this type of thing is important, would a (hot) member of the Beach Patrol such as yourself have a procedure?” is not the best opening line.