The Beach Diaries 2012 – #27
* Yesterday, they were muck-spreading in the local fields, and it smelt like the town had shat itself. I wasn’t at the beach, but in the midst of that shit-stinking thirty-degree day, I pictured all the beautiful people walking around in their summer splendour, heads held high, and each pretending that they couldn’t smell a thing, like a fashion show dressing room filled with nervous farts.
* Today is sweltering and airless. It’s high tide at noon, and with most of the beach underwater, space is in short supply. Barely dressed strangers squash together like pigs at an abattoir.
* Dark clouds colour the distant sky. The sun’s shining, but a violent lightning strike out at sea turns everybody’s head. A jarring boom of thunder runs a shiver of sudden vulnerability through a few thousand people clad in nothing but bikinis and trunks, a mile from their cars, possessions scattered in piles at their feet.
* People stand mesmerized by the flashes of lightning, which strike across the river as the storm moves inland. A huge, jagged scratch of electricity hits, so close you can feel it in your teeth, causing shrieks and flinching like they’ve witnessed a particularly nasty car accident. An instinctive “Ho-lee shit…” comes out of my mouth.
* I’ve become part of a strange kind of impromptu rock concert. The prom has filled with people, all looking out towards the electrical storm that’s tearing up the sky. Shoulder to shoulder, we stand as one; women in swimsuits, men without shirts; everyone with phones and cameras at the end of their outstretched arms, pointed at the sky like they’re waiting for the return of the mothership.
* A five-minute cloudburst all but clears the beach. I’ve no respect for any of those beach-pussies who ran. The ones who stayed here with me — they’ve earned it, and now there’s plenty of space to go round.
* Twenty minutes after the prom-side flash mob, the storm has passed, and the clouds are gone. And with them, the sudden unity of shared experience. Everyone’s back to being strangers again, seeing each other through corner of the eye glances.
* A thuggish-looking man lets go of his girlfriend’s hand to do a sneeze so hard that it can-cans his leg into the air.
* The back of the toilet door reads “Teen boy wanted for suck fun.” Fun. It’s always that word, ‘fun’. Fun is wholesome. Fun is playing fetch with a dog. Fun is the dodgems. Is that really what that guy’s thinking as he gets sucked off in a pissy, pube-matted cubicle, waiting for the paedo-squad to kick the door in? “This is fun. Weeeeeeeee!”
* The temperature shoots up to borderline unbearable levels. My hands stain the page as I write, and everybody huffs as they walk, dripping with sweat. Palpable lust pollutes the atmosphere, like a swarm of famished flies. Half-naked bodies of both genders catch each other’s gazes, strutting and bouncing and writhing past in an unending flow. Size zero and thick. Rakish and muscular. University-age and milf. All the curves and shapes that evolved to make us want to fuck, every taste catered for, and everything on parade. There’s no respite for any of us, with wet bodies in their perfect, human motion whichever direction you care to turn. I hate it. My survival philosophy has always been that it’s better not to know what’s out there. Window shopping’s no fun if your wallet’s empty. But today, everyone knows, and on a tumescent day like this, the accounts of Wank Banks town-wide are receiving enough deposits to see them through the bleakness of winter. Maybe we should all go into the bushes to knock one out, just to take the edge off.
* “I’m gonna go sleep,” says a sixty-year-old man, resting his head on the shoulder of his twenty-something Thai bride. She laughs an empty, vacant laugh that comes out of her like the kick of the leg when the doctor hits a knee with a hammer.
* A woman lays topless next to the path of the prom, shamelessly splayed exactly where the hordes pass by. A hundred boys see their first boobs. A hundred husbands and dads steal sneaky glances. A writer goes into the bushes to take the edge off.
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.