Monday, 26 October 2015

Seaside Scenes

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Outside the amusement arcade, a plastic parrot in a pathetic cage asked us if we would like a present, much like a dirty old man might offer a child a chance to stroke his puppies. Various video games beeped, buzzed and blasted out jingles trying to attract customers to part with their precious pennies. But the beach provided stiff competition; potential gamblers preferring to soak up the last of the sun before the winter rains sent them scurrying for the shelter of the slot machines.

The beach looked like a Lowry painting; with matchstick men, women and dogs placed randomly on the canvas of sand. Matchstick seagulls were set against the blue sky; coasting on the chill breeze that reminded us this was autumn, not summer.  Soon the tide would turn, and the canvas would be swept clean. But for now, the sun shone down on those enjoying their Sunday morning stroll, and the sea stood back, allowing the townsfolk to walk on its estate like a benevolent landowner.

The fairground wilted like a flower in the snow; colours faded, sounds muted, a shadow of its former self.  It tried to hide in the background, embarrassed by its ramshackle state. The people were polite, not staring, not pointing; instead they looked from the corner of their eyes, and wondered how a once proud specimen could let itself go so. But was there also guilt on their faces, a share of the blame? When an elderly neighbour dies in a cold, lonely flat, and the body lays undiscovered for weeks, we know we could have done more, but we were too busy watching Game of Thrones.

The café did brisk business. It was a haven for walkers wanting to warm their cockles after a bracing stroll along the prom. The coffee machine hissed and frothed, making hot chocolates and lattes that would hit the spot of the cold and weary. No one was a stranger here; the breezy barista greeted everyone with a smile and cheery hello. Customers slurped, and chatted enjoying their milky treat while ignoring the people discussing religion on a silent TV screen.

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