The Beach Diaries 2015 — #5 in an Occasional Series


The tide’s out, leaving a vast expanse of muddy sand scarred with footprints, pawprints, half-dug holes and moats. I love how it all reboots when the sea rolls back in, washing everything clean and new, like the dawn of a baby planet; day 3 of Genesis. Everyone here could etch their secrets in the sand with their fingers, safe in the knowledge Mother Nature would scatter them into the void, and nobody could stop her. I look at the dog-walkers and joggers, the tourists and the locals, and wonder what each of them would write, given the chance.

I only pretend that I’m happy.

I’m a Brony.”

I’m racist, but only about the Chinese.”

I killed a cat when I was 12, to see what would happen.”

I do this all day, on all the faces I see.

Some overheard gossip between two middle aged women would make anybody’s ears prick up, let alone a voyeuristic weirdo with a biro and a finely attuned ear for passing scandal. There’s a love triangle, involving two brothers, and someone who was killed in a helicopter crash. It’s only when she mentions The Woolpack that I realise they’re talking about Emmerdale. I should ask if Matt ever sorted out that problem in t’top field.

I was happier before I had kids.”

There’s a backbone of sleepy, summer basslines from the huge speakers lugged on and off of coaches by London daytrippers. A pair of teenagers amuse each other with writhing, over-sexualised dances as they pass through the wall of sound. “Lookit dem lickle girls,” says a tourist with a thick, melodious African accent, and tutting with a crashing impact the girls’ mothers would have heard from ten miles away.

A group of men use their wayward, wandering dog as an ‘in’ to snarl flirtatious patter at a pair of young women, as it pats its way onto their blankets. Less than ten minutes later, a dad making long football passes to a little boy seems to deliberately fluff a couple of weedy kicks, letting the ball roll between the two women, who have to field more man-chat as they toss it back.

I love somebody I shouldn’t.

A white-haired old man high-fives his grandchildren, each in turn. His wife leaves him hanging.

How old will I be when I’m 18?” asks a small boy to an exasperated dad.

Another dad playfully threatens a mischievous little boy with “…a pint of blood for your lunch.” — “Eurgh!

I came down here every day last week, but early, before the arrival of people or the mid-day sun, because I was dog-sitting. Every morning, when I picked him up, he was apoplectic with excitement, rolling at my feet like a drowning fish and leaping into my arms, where his sharp little teeth clumsily scratched the end of my nose. What would it take for a human to be that happy to see me? I’ve never gotten past the half-nod of recognition and the grunted “Alright?” Not that it wouldn’t be super weird to have a person sit waiting on the floor of the hallway outside the toilet door, scratching furiously at it with their nails, but I feel like maybe other people have felt their presence was truly wanted besides just the times they’ve been visiting a dog.

Sometimes I sleep in the airing cupboard. It makes me feel safe.”

I walk a long way; so far around the coast, I half expect to look out and see the Orkney Islands sat in the water. It’s the kind of walk people do when they’re trying to get away from something — the thoughts and worries that keep them awake, and turn quiet rooms and moments of solitude into a violent mental beat-down. In truth, those walks are like some You’ve Been Framed clip of a screaming child trying to run from a plastic spider that’s stuck to their back. Even if you marched off the edge of the Earth, you’d still be stuck with yourself as you were falling.

They don’t know that money was from me.”

There’s a face-painting kiosk by the pier. Maybe I should ask for an Ultimate Warrior, and start hurling people over the safety rails (which always seemed ring-like to me and my young chums back in the day). “I’m the winner of the Royal Rumble!” I’ll cry, as the lifeguards trap my thrashing body inside a lifebuoy; demanding my title shot as heavier passers-by are corralled into sitting on the backs of my legs until the police arrive. Probably won’t bother though.

I married the wrong brother.”

A sky full of grey, foreboding clouds, as far as you care to look. Intermittently, a shard of sunlight breaks through, bright and warm, and injecting hope of better things into the gloom. In the distance, you can see the beams lighting up darkened sections of faraway beach, slowly making their way towards you like a rescue searchlight from the heavens. You know it’s coming, bringing its brief and infrequent warmth — but it doesn’t stop the shivering; doesn’t clear the suffocating sky overhead. Off in the distance, everything’s black.

I’ve planned the date of my suicide.


The Beach Diaries have been running since 2011, spawning the two Kindle books you see above. Both are available on Amazon, for the price of a pint, and I highly recommend you buy them, because I like money.

The Beach Diaries 2011: £1.99 on$2.99 on

The Beach Diaries 2012: £2.99 on$3.99 on

If you don’t have a Kindle, here’s Amazon’s FREE Kindle app for phones, tablets, mac and PC

These days, I only put them out occasionally, as I did two years ago. The Occasional Beach Diaries 2013: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5

In 2014: #1, #2, #3

And this year: #1, #2, #3, #4

~ by Stuart on August 15, 2015.

4 Responses to “The Beach Diaries 2015 — #5 in an Occasional Series”

  1. […] And this year: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 […]

  2. […] in 2015: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, […]

  3. […] 2015: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, […]

  4. […] 2015: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, […]

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