Sunday, 31 May 2009

Herne Bay - a place for the very young and the old

Sitting outside the ' Petit Poussin ' restaurant, in front of the Palace Pier in Herne Bay on the Kent coast, I observed the to and fro of visitors along the seafront - a number of children in push chairs guided by their parents and a number of old people in wheel chairs guided by their carers. Toddlers assisted in walking on their reins were matched by the elderly assisted in walking on their sticks.

A little further along the promenade the teenagers performing magical stunts on their bikes were matched by pensioners speeding along in their red, mechanised carts.

Forty years ago, I was a twenty year old student living in Hove on the Sussex coast. In those days I wrote the occasional piece of pretentious poetry, which in my vanity, I have preserved. The piece I wrote about the sunday seafront now seems apposite :

As long as a sunday sea
Soaps the beach Where whisky-scented anglers
Sit in hope.
A brigade of walking sticks
Will pass along the prom With gouty, varicose companions.

Sea gulls scream
At sadistic school boys'
Catapulted stones.
While hands which once
Would have intervened
Are now, pocket-deep,
A web of blue arthritic bones.

Unheard too
Those cold soliloquies.
Issued from loneliness
Carved in despair
Served in a whisper
And fed to the breeze.

The lines I wrote all those years ago are now rich in irony, since my sciatica may well necessitate me using a walking stick and falling in step with that brigade of walking sticks along the Herne Bay Sea front.

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