On the Beach

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In better books the beach is not a place to take the kids; it’s the setting for dark deeds, unravellings, and disaster. If you have stood on a beach in Northern Europe, that will probably make perfect sense. Tropical beaches have a better PR, but palms, clownfish, and banana boat rides aside, they too inspire dark good reads such as  The Beach by Alex Garland, and Nevil Shute’s On the Beach (fabulous in that we’re all doomed kind of way). The title, On the Beach, is naval slang for washed up, which is what I was thinking about when I started this some hours ago (I stopped to film spider monkeys by the window. . . just as a cartload of tourists arrived, researched the ‘cold snap’ online, rubbed repellent in my eye and spent some time in the bathroom trying to sluice it out, dried off in the sun, Skype-messaged Dave, and checked the hotel’s collection of books-to-swap ever hopeful that someone had taken some of the German ones and replaced them new books by Richard Ford, William Boyd and Joyce Carol Oates).

Anyway, I don’t mean washed up in a personal sense, although I am rather out of the Bob-a-Job freelance loop, but rather the stuff that gets tossed in and rejected by the sea, and washed up on the beach. I was  hard on the sea (The Narky Sea), but I love the beach, a place you can explore from scratch every single morning. And I get great pleasure from tracking the tracks – the fact I’m not alone in enjoying that early morning snuffling.

Two more quotes before moving away from the sea – figuratively, for now. The first is a perfect description of the sounds of the sea from Douglas Adams, So Long, and thanks for All the Fish: “from among it, voices calling, and yet not voices, humming trillings, wordlings, and half-articulated songs of thought . . .Greetings, waves of greetings, sliding back down into the inarticulate, words breaking together.”

 While I was searching for the Adams quote, I came across this, from Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, Anna Quindlen, which I like very much indeed. I’m going to appropriate it and use it when I next stand next to a stranger at the Margarita Sunset bar: “I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.” Top stuff – although I can’t work out whether it’s supposed to be hilarious.

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One thought on “On the Beach

  1. Tim says:

    Sounds like you’re on the verge of going feral. Come back immediately.

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