Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The Beach - South Shore

I was nine years old when my family moved to Blackpool. Dad took a pub on South Promenade and my playground was the stretch of beach from the north side of South Pier to the small, ornamental windmill that used to grace the promenade opposite Waterloo Road. I could easily find ‘home’ between those landmarks, though I didn’t venture out alone at that age. I haven’t been there for a long time, but it’s a place where I always feel spiritually ‘at one’ with my departed loved ones. My father exercised our dog there, at least twice a day, early morning and late at night. When I was older I’d go with him sometimes.  My mother often took me out for a treat when my younger sister was in bed. We would go to feed pennies into the fruit machines in The Beachcomber amusements on the pier, maybe play bingo for a bit, then walk along the beach to Central Pier and back again, if the tide was out. My grandmother spent hours in the bay window of our living room just watching the world go by on the prom and the beach. I’ve only got to stand there to feel the love and the closeness of the family and be thankful for an abundance of happy memories, gathered in a short time.

Throughout those childhood summers my sister and I would be taken to play on the sands by our mum, or Nanna when she was visiting, but more often by Auntie Kathy who looked after us. With buckets and spades, towels and sometimes a picnic in a hold-all, we would spend ages trying to cross four lanes of traffic then the tram tracks. The smell of hot-dogs mingled with candy-floss and fried onions. Our bare feet would be roasting on the hot tarmac and we’d be dodging the assortment of spills that messed the pavements. Auntie Kathy always had her sandals on and only took them off when she gave in to our persistent mithering to go paddling. She kept us away from the donkey ride areas, we laughed at her calling ice-lollies ‘lolly-ices’ whenever we had one and she taught me how to pull the heads and tails of shrimps as I ate a couple of ounces worth from the seafood stall. We loved her. She helped us to make sand-pies and castles then sat back to smoke a Park Drive while she watched us get water for the moat. It was much the same with our mum and Nanna and we survived those long, hot summer days of hours on the beach with no sun lotion. We tanned and didn’t burn. Things were different in the mid-60s.

On the gorgeous Pembrokeshire beaches with my children some thirty or so years later, it was jelly-shoes, tee-shirts, sun hats and lotion for arms and legs.


Wherever I go, I’m drawn to the coast and I’ve strolled on some fabulous beaches at home and abroad, but, so far, nowhere can match the stunning silver sand of the west coast of South Uist. It was my first breath-taking view of the Hebrides. There were many more spectacular coastal views, like my photograph of a beach on the Isle of Eriskay where I collected ‘whiter than white’ shells and a thimble full of shimmering sand.
 
My chosen poem was created by one of my favourite poets, Dr John Cooper Clarke, and members of the public who contributed their thoughts of the coast.
 
Nation's Ode To The Coast
Dr John Cooper Clarke

A big fat sky and a thousand shrieks
The tide arrives and the timber creaks
A world away from the working week
Où est la vie nautique?
That’s where the sea comes in…

Dishevelled shells and shovelled sands,
Architecture all unplanned
A spade ‘n’ bucket wonderland
A golden space, a Frisbee and
The kids and dogs can run and run
And not run in to anyone
Way out! Real gone!
That’s where the sea comes in…

Impervious to human speech, idle time and tidal reach
Some memories you can’t impeach
That’s where the sea comes in
A nice cuppa splosh and a round of toast
A cursory glance at the morning post
A pointless walk along the coast
That’s what floats my boat the most
That’s where the sea comes in…

Now, voyager - once resigned
Go forth to seek and find
The hazy days you left behind
Right there in the back of your mind
Where lucid dreams begin
With rolling dunes and rattling shale
The shoreline then a swollen sail
Picked out by a shimmering halo
That’s where the sea comes in…
 
Could this be luck by chance?
Eternity in a second glance
A universe beyond romance
That’s where the sea comes in…

Yeah, that’s where the sea comes in…
 
Thanks for reading, Pam x

 
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1 comments:

Steve Rowland said...

Thanks Pam. An interesting blog and a great JCC poem :-)