Saturday, 4 October 2008

Attracting a crowd

Nicely settled on the beach. You have chosen a spot away from everyone, down by the waves, but out of the spray. In the glorious optimism of a sunny October morning, with no clock watching tyranny for the next few hours, you sit out of the wind behind a groyne. You shuffle about a bit on your backside (because the beaches here are covered in stones) and you throw a few sacrum cripplers into the sea, creating satisfying plops and gulps. In this wonderful solitude you pick up a pen and venture forth into your sketchbook with freedom and playfulness. The energy builds and you turn over the page as words tumble out with an unselfconscious verve.

Footsteps crunch and slither towards you, and a voice talking LOUDLY on a mobile, obviously with a very bad connection to someone very far away. They sit down so close you can smell their perfume. A big lolloping puppy dog flounders along behind. It bounds over to greet you, all tongue, big paws, panting and wagging, like you are their long lost pal. Dogs are adorable, however..........It dribbles on your sketchbook, grabs your hand in it's soft mouth and sits down heavily on your foot. Then, it sniffs loudly at your bag which contains 3 chocolate biscuits and a small flask of tea, all wrapped against spillages, possible dog visits and frantic seagull peckings, and proceeds to push it's nose into the dark heaven of a challenge. The owner throws a ball for the dog, just missing your head, in fact, you feel it leaving a pathway through your hair. The ball lands in the sea, and the next time the dog comes to look for the biscuits, it spin dries itself about a yard away from you. There is a whole beach to sit on and this person comes to sit right beside you.

It doesn't happen a lot, but over the years I can remember several extraordinary situations like this. One involved a whole family arriving with surfboards, wetsuits and barbecue. They set up camp in front of me, so that my view of the beach was blocked by a row of writhing naked bottoms of various sizes and sexes being squeezed into wetsuits while the charcoal started to smoke. Another involved me and a friend reading on a massive beach with no-one else in sight. A large family appeared far off in the distance as little specks. And they walked and walked and walked, getting closer and closer until they reached us, whereupon they immediately switched a massive ghetto blaster on.

Someone I know will tell me that I need to work on my protective shield. In response, I will joke about making a three mile exclusion zone around me, complete with KEEP OUT signs. Then she will tell me that she was only trying to help and why don't I just avoid the situation by staying at home writing at a desk. 

AGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! What to do, dear reader?