I do like to be beside the seaside

by James

The sand is warm against my bare toes. I can feel it trickling between each digit as I dig my feet through the hot crust to the damp cool beneath. It’s a natural exfoliant is what it is, sloughing dead skin from feet. The times Sandra has complained about my gnarled wizard’s feet surely she can’t complain when I track a little sand into our bedroom.

You’d think anyway.

This is a moment’s peace for me. The sun is warm on my face, breeze washing my skin, and there it is again, the harsh cry of a seagull or two, and combined with a sudden surge in the breeze and I’m there, on the beach, rumble of the surf ringing in my ears.

A shack on the beach, that’s all I would have needed. Four walls and a roof, and the roof could have been a sieve as long as there was one dry corner for me to curl myself inside my sleeping bag. It wouldn’t have mattered though, back in my surfing days, shagging all night out in the sand dunes, come rain or fine. Me and Lizzie, me and Sian, me and what’s her name? Not me and Sandra. I got her in the water once, and that was it. Stand up on a piece of wood floating on the sea, was I crazy?


The shatter of glass breaks the spell. Damp sand between my toes, and who knows what else, damn neighbour cats think my kids’ sandpit is there own personal litter tray. The seagulls are still here, two big bastards perching on the neighbour’s shed, eyeing me with disdain. Traitors they are, slicing through our bin bags with their razor beaks when they should be wheeling and soaring as I skip the waves on my board.

One of the kids begins to cry and that’s my cue to creak my weary body from its sandpit hidey hole, to don my happy mask as I straighten my back and return myself to the desolated kitchen where the three year old screams and the four year old is pushing the broken bottle around the floor with a broom.

Oh, the joy of this. Screaming kids cooped up inside our little house while my wife drives her fancy car to her plush office and spends her day inside air-conditioned meeting rooms. I could have stayed a beach bum, nothing but me and the waves, and Lizzie or Sian, or…Sue, that was the other name, Sue.

It would have been a pointless life, of drifting and driftwood, of night-time beach fires and cocktails drunk neat from the bottle. Wasting your life boy, that’s what my father would have said, though here’s the ironic thing, says the exact same thing to me now, house husband that I am.

Maybe I would have been wasting my life, but at least I’d have been surfing.