The Beach Diaries 2012 – #12
* On the way down, I see what seems like fifty different Zumba signs advertising fifty different classes. Teaching Zumba is the new selling vases you’ve glued shells on of being self employed.
* A sallow couple, as drunk as anyone I’ve ever seen, stagger past the bow-tie clad shark of Sharksville Adventure Golf.
“But you love me,” she slurs, “you should wanna give it me all the time.” She punctuates the italicised words by slapping a hand hard against her arse cheek.
* Everywhere, couples too old to have the excuse of teenage puppy love tightly clasp the hands of their partners like they’re going to blow away, or be snatched by jealous romeos. My coal-hearted, cynical assumption is that they met on internet dating sites, after lifetimes of “being a nice guy,” or moaning about men over wine with The Girls.
“I’m in love!” they cry, “Look, I’ve found my soulmate, and they’re all mine! They were there all along, the first one to reply on LonelyWretches.com, and now I get that fairytale life I’ve always dreamed of!”
At night, in each other’s arms, both try to quiet down the nagging internal voice that berates them for settling.
* There’s a nan. She looks just like Rick Parfitt from Status Quo.
* A guy flying a kite gives me a flashback to flying a SuperTed kite on the same common as a child. For some reason, I let go of the string, and my mum had to chase after it. As I ran behind her, I tripped and fell chest and hands-first into a big pile of dog plops. I remembered this last year too, when talking to my mum, and said to her half-jokingly how it seemed like I spent two-thirds of my childhood stepping in turds that she had to clean off my shoes and the hallway carpet. She sighed loudly, and replied with a rather withering “Yes. You did.”
* A small boy takes a rough spill from his bike, right in front of me. The training wheels don’t stop him from kissing the concrete. With tears about to break on his face, he looks up and catches my eye – me, the big, cool man – and holds it in with a breath, long enough to sprint past and commence squealing twenty yards behind, in the arms of his mother. My appearance is such that I’d never get hired as a receptionist, and girls sarcastically “Oi Oi!” me from the pebbles, but little boys see the world in broader strokes. The sunglasses, the Jim Morrison hair; to them, I’m a right dude, a high-five throwing cool cat who’d light their faces up with an “alright, mate?” Although, if I did that, their parents would think me less a right dude and more a probable pedo.
If I ever get acting work, those will be my roles. Nonces, junkies, alleyway sex-beasts, and the failed punk rocker turned drug dealer turned snitch, after he’s busted selling an ice lolly laced with GHB to an undercover cop.
* None of the hundreds of families I’ve seen down here seem to have been enjoying themselves. All around, frazzled parents admonish their children for minor indiscretions, like picking up a shell, or looking this way instead of that. Everywhere you turn, “That’s it, we’re going home!” or “Dando! Will you sit down and behave!” A parent’s place is at the end of a tether, the fray of a rope. I’m never more grateful that my winning combination of deep-seated emotional damage and visual clunkiness has essentially rendered me sterile.
* A man walks towards me on the prom, with two slow-moving black labradors, one loose and the other on a lead. As they get close enough to pass, I note that the leashed one has milky white eyes, and slinks closely to his master’s leg with unsure little paw-steps. The sudden sadness of a blind dog hits me like a bowling ball to the guts, and as I watch them trotting away over my shoulder, instinct finds me taking a sharp 45 degree turn down onto the shingle. Like a child clinging to a threadbare comfort blanket, I spend the next twenty minutes hugging the shoreline, pacing the coast with the waves at my ankles, desperately trying to walk away the sadness.
* Cutting through the relative quiet of the day comes the sound of raised, middle-class voices, with the angriest syllables squeezing themselves out from between a woman’s clenched teeth. A couple in their fifties appear, moving past me from right-to-left, like a comical interlude in a stage play; the forceful briskness of their footsteps a physical embodiment of the blazing mood. She holds onto the brim of a large sun hat with two hands, while his socks are pulled up to the knees. Even with my trained voyeur’s ear, I can only catch fragments of their conversation. Her, livid; him, trying, and failing, to laugh it off with uneasy chuckles; but I pick out enough to piece it together. It has to do their attending a function of some kind, and him eating all of the chocolate.
“You know what I’m like,” he pleads, “you can’t just put it out there where I can see it. It won’t survive!”
* From a nearby toilet stall comes a slow, mournful fart, echoing in the pan like a cry for help.
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.