The Beach Diaries 2012 – #9
* A black bra hangs from the locked boot of a parked car. Topless mafia hostage perhaps, on her way to the crusher at the junkyard for seeing something she shouldn’t. Or maybe just a makeshift static dampener, imbued with that irritating burlesque fad of the last decade. Beneath the nipple tassels, the Sexy Emperor is rather plain and tubby.
* I feel like I’ve missed the boat what with the whole mummy porn thing flying off the shelves. Everywhere I turn, there’s another headline about Fifty Shades of Grey‘s author diving into a Scrooge McDuck vault full of riches. I need some way to tap into the frustrations of those housewives too coy to hit up Redtube for videos of interracial cucking. Failing that, I’ll take the money from the kind of pink cowboy hat-clad women you’ll find shrieking with laughter at inflatable willies at Ann Summers parties (whose partners are pathetic perverts for looking at Page 3), or I would if I knew how. On the surface, the Beach Diaries contain all the ingredients of easily accessible erotica. There’s a beach, there’s bare skin, and – on hot days at least – everyone’s infused with that kind of simmering, barely concealed lust that hangs in the air like ripe BO and threatens to drown us all in an explosive sea of jizz at any moment. Yet, they’re as unsensual as a twelve hour audiobook of Eric Pickles’ sleep-time farts.
I’ve had plenty of feedback about my work before, but never an email that said “Had a brilliant wank over that. Thanks mate!” Whichever part of me that excludes me from being sexy in the eyes of people is also missing in my writing. If I want a slice of this ripe, yet greying pie, I’ll either need to live a life that can be vicariously strummed over by ladies wearing nothing to bed but a Take That reunion tour shirt, or, like the kingdom of Beach Town, I must await the return of the twenty-first century Fabio, who can adorn my cover with his leathery pecs, and catapult me to the Times rich list by having gussets everywhere gush like a summertime fire hydrant on a 1970’s New York sidewalk. Please hurry back.
* Overheard conversation snippets. Mother to a small child that’s out of my earshot:
“Come on then, let’s go crabbing. Have you ever been crabbing before? How many crabs did you catch? 1,781?!”
* Nothing deflates my hatred and cynicism like the squeak of a dog’s toy. It’s a dog! Playing with a toy!
* Overheard conversation snippets. Mother on her bike, to a little girl on one of those bikes that attach to the parent’s with a metal bar:
“They’re not laughing at you.”
Girl. Insistent; upset: “They are!”
“They’re not! Maybe they’re just smiling because you look good!”
* I see a boy of about seventeen, and what I take to be his old parents. The mum looks late fifties, and the dad, pushing seventy. They seem quite middle class. I imagine his upbringing, as the son of an old mum and dad; school gate taunts of “Your nan’s here to pick you up,” and repeats of Dad’s Army instead of Top of the Pops. “They won’t live to see him hit forty,” I think. “He’ll be the first orphan in his circle of friends.”
Later, sat on the pier, I see the three of them down on the sand. They fan out into a big triangle, and amuse themselves for ages by throwing a tennis ball between them, and I find myself re-evaluating my first impression. In their younger days, they were athletic and rarely home, spending their evenings playing tennis or taking jolly, sub-zero skinny dips into the lakes at the bottom of their friend’s homes. There weren’t many schoolyard taunts, because theirs was a fun house to stop at for tea. In the summer, there was a goal net at the far end of the garden, and he’d take his son and his schoolmates on camping trips, where he’d play the role of rain-drinking, bug-naming woodsman with gusto. These days, they’re the members of a running club and a rambler’s association. The nook in the hallway is filled with more trainers than shoes. Their children love them dearly.
Below me on the beach, back in the now, they’ve wrung a good twenty minutes of fun out of that little green ball. It’s rarely dropped, and though she’s a good catcher, the mum always throws underarm. Eventually, she leaves them to it, pulls on a rucksack and strolls off towards Winkle Island (a real geological feature comprised of a huge shelf of winkles that only become visible at low tide, and not some euphemism for where your dad lives), leaving her boys to boot a football between them. The not-so-old-after-all dad flicks it onto his foot and skilfully bounces it six times on his laces. And the years roll away.
* I write the previous section sat alone on the pier, with my head down in my notepad, engrossed in the scribbles. A shadow falls across my feet, and I glance up.
“Blimey,” I say. “Hello?”
It’s all I can muster, at the sudden appearance of a seven-foot-tall walking sandcastle with big red clown-shoes and dead, cartoon eyes. Far down the empty pier, all by myself, Sandy the Sandcastle must have shuffled here especially, just to silently wave those Micky Mouse-gloved hands at a now-unsettled man on a bench.
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.