The Beach Diaries 2012 – #21
* Late morning, and it’s oddly quiet for a Saturday. Maybe everybody’s still drunk on the London 2012 opening ceremony; swathed in Union Jacks and weeping ‘neath framed fireside pictures of David Beckham and the Carry On team. Well, fuck your £12m pageantry. If you want a perfect microcosm of everything it means to be British, you’ll find it all right here on the beach, every single summer’s day.
* A polite Indian chap who’s down for the day on a coach has me take his photo as he stands with the sea at his back. I tell him to smile, but there’s no need. He’s just happy to be at the seaside. And he doesn’t even ask for a light.
* My sunglasses broke, so I’ve switched to a backup pair of retro aviators. Catching sight of myself in a window, I worry my appearance will start whispers of Jim Morrison’s seawater-bloated zombie corpse washing up on the sands; face smashed against the rocks and pecked ugly by gulls.
* Along the water’s edge, a portly middle-aged man strolls a leisurely pace, hands behind his back, letting the waves wash across his bare feet. He’s wearing nothing but a pair of white y-fronts, pulled up high so that his cheeks hang out of the back, while his penis and ball-glans protrude at the front.
As I’m writing that down, he looks over and waves. I glance behind me, and there’s nobody on this section of beach but the two of us. I turn back, and he’s advancing on me; pant-supported genitals drooping out like Gonzo’s nose. I slide the notepad back into my bag, just in case the next “Excuse me?” is followed by “Whatcha writing about?! My cock and bollocks?!” Almost on me, Y-Fronts Guy waves once again, this time behind me, at a wife I hadn’t noticed, arriving over the peak of the shingle. A mass of bobbling white flesh, he holds the pants deep into his crack with one hand as he stumbles past.
* A scruffy dog sprints across two hundred yards of unbroken low-tide beach, in chase of a low-flying seagull. Halfway back to his owner after the bird gets away, another white blur speeds by, and the dog peels off, chasing it some distance into the ocean, before finally giving up.
* A guy in a fedora walks down to the sea with his girlfriend. Within seconds, he’s taken out a little Hawaiian guitar, and strums out the only two chords he knows while leaning on the breakwater, like some prick from a dating site commercial. I’d bet my life that he’s got a didgeridoo he takes out at parties. “I’ll just get the old didge…”
* A jittery man rubbing his wet head with a towel like he’s on fire asks me the time, and he’s already backing away in a hurry as I answer.
“Quarter to one,” I say.
“Four to one?”
“Four to? Four to one?” He’s now so far away, we’re both yelling, and people are looking.
“QUARTER TO ONE!” Although by the time this tedious exchange is over, it’s almost midnight.
* A grandfather lurches behind a pair of children, chasing them down the prom with two handfuls of seaweed clasped in his fingers.
“Seaweed’s coming to getcha! Seaweed’s coming to getcha!”
* Down by the river, where people catch crabs on lines baited with bacon, a dog on a lead strains towards the pavement.
“Come here, Olly Murs,” says, what one must presume, is the son of a terrible living-hen-night of a woman.
* Overheard conversation snippets. Toothless, cackling drunk to his mate.
“She ain’t seen it yet — my slimy old nob.”
* A hand-crocheted pillow blows from a market stall and begins to roll away. A passing old lady catches sight of it and ever-so-slowly bends down, with a spine that looks to be made of dust, picks up the pillow, and places it gently back on the table before continuing on her way.
* As I wait behind a letterbox on a narrow pavement, coming towards me, is a woman who’s clad head to toe in clothing proclaiming that Jesus Loves You. She wears a hat that’s made from a laminated piece of A4 (bearing the same Jesus design), rolled and stapled into a tube that slides down over her head, like the Pope’s.
* A small, simple triangular kite made of paper hangs in the sky, drifting lazily on some hundred yards of line. On the other end, an exotic-looking man chats to an elderly couple who’ve stopped for a gander.
“Is that a Chinese kite?” says the old man.
“No, I’m Brazilian,” he replies, with a friendly smile, “This is my son’s kite.”
“Oh,” says the old man, “I thought you were a Chinaman.”
Stick that up your arse, Danny Boyle.
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.