The Beach Diaries 2012 – #2
* The trees outside Peacocks are wearing a number of hand-knitted scarves around their trunks, and coloured, woollen pom-poms hang from the branches like hipster baubles. It reminds me of the work of babukatorium, but seeing it here, in this town, where art and expression drowns in pub men’s piss and slips on alleyway turds, jars me in a way that cracks and uplifts the heart in equal measure. I wonder who’s behind it?
* As I approach the narrow pavement of Pier Road, on the other side of the street, an old man falls over a dog and into the road. It’s not just a trip, but a full-on, head-over-heels tumble-roll, like a toddler surely breaking their neck to gales of canned laughter on You’ve Been Framed. A crowd begins to surround as I get closer. He’s a tough, weathered looking man of about 60, shirtless in faded jeans, and tanned, with the look of a chap who’s done some living, and occasionally still does. A proper rogue in his day, I bet. A bystander calls an ambulance while the injured man takes a seat on the wall of the riverbank.
“Christ,” he says, shaking a head that leaks a red trail from the semi-circular cut that opened when he nutted the gutter. The dog’s owners loiter at his side, wearing terribly guilt-ridden faces. The cause of the whole incident pants happily by the bleeding man’s legs, tail wagging to and fro at the ever continuing thrillride of doggy life.
“I love ambulances!” it probably thinks, “and walks and shoes and the wind! Everything is so exciting!”
* I’m startled as my eye catches the sight of a naked female mannequin with a tea towel on its head, staring out of a third floor attic window with an intense vacancy. Her arms are posed in a jaunty “ta-da!”, so proud is she of her pert plastic a-cups. Sometimes, you see the guy who lives in that house driving around town with the naked mannequin strapped in beside him, and with her bottom half removed so that her stiff, open legs can splay against the back window.
* While yesterday was a beautiful day, it wasn’t baking hot; unlike today. The heat has brought everybody out, regardless of duty, causing people to throw up their arms and take flight from their desks. Days like these, humanity yearns to return to the primitive, primal way of life, where you didn’t boil the day away in an office or storeroom, and lived wild and free on the plains and under the stars. Although maybe that stifling system’s not a bad thing. With the beach in her full, glowing pomp, roaming groups of shirtless man with shit tattoos are everywhere you turn.
* Someone’s sprayed graffiti onto the side of the pier. A stoned smiley face, like the one on the Nirvana shirt I wore every other day in sixth form, but sad, stands alongside an octopus with a big pair of tits.
* A 40-something biker couple play frisbee with their small child. Their older daughter – early twenties – has dyed punk-red hair like the mum, and shows off her tats in a pink sundress. She tries to tie the dress up to the thighs in a knot, so that she can paddle in the sea, which causes every man in a fifty foot radius to be utterly mesmerised. As they play on the sand – Tank Abbott-bearded, long haired dad in a shirt proclaiming him DEATH RIDER – I think how sweet, tender and fun they all seem. The way they interact with each other, and with the people whose eyes they catch, right down to the total lack of swearing, stands out as almost twee and unbecoming, especially in light of the image their appearance probably gives out. The frisbee veers past a hand and skids onto the prom, and a humourless, aggressive voice cuts through the gentle moment:
“You ain’t very good at that, are ya?” it booms, at the girl in the sundress, from the mouth of a shirtless lad who might as well be waving his dick in her face. With the girl not acknowledging this crass, unwanted invasion into their world with so much as a glance, the shirtless lad stalks past with his pack. As the bikers and punks continue with their innocent, carefree afternoon, the lad mutters to his friends, without a hint of a smile:
“I’d fuck her so hard.”
* A girl has stolen my favourite spot. Pretty, in warm pastel colours, and with catwalk legs that make me think she’d be eight feet tall if she stood, this girl has usurped me as the real life, 3D, Foursquare mayor of my pitch. Outrageous behaviour. But I like this spot, even if I have to rock up close by, a couple of feet over, I refuse to go elsewhere.
So, back to back, in silence, we sit on the patch of grass reading our respective books. People shriek and swagger around us, but we sit and quietly read, odd reflections of each other, in this beach world of disparate grotesques, sharing rare common bonds of a love of words, and of a patch of freshly cut lawn alongside the promenade. Eventually, without saying a word, the pretty girl with the book and the legs gets up and strolls off, leaving me to read all by myself.
I win. Sat here alone, on my piece of grass, as she walks away forever, I have won.
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.