Southsea Shingle

Three Months On

Just over three months.

I’ve been writing this blog for just over three months. Looking back at previous posts it already seems like writings from another time. Football matches, concerts, poetry events…how long before these days return?

Of course this is all pretty trivial when compared to the real impact of Covid-19 as it spreads across the UK. The first fatality has been confirmed here in Portsmouth.

Alongside the panic buying, the increasing pace of events, the unspoken sense of dread, I wonder if there is also going to be a forced opportunity for us to spend more quality time with the people we care most about. Maybe it was simply that we had a dry sunny Saturday here on the south coast, (finally!), but it certainly seemed like this to me when we went to the seafront at the weekend. No Pompey home game, no football on TV … lots of family groups on the beach, a few instant barbecues, a packed Tenth Hole Cafe (excellent cakes as always!).

I guess it’s something to hold on to. Whatever happens in the coming weeks and months, we are going to need our friends and families more than ever.

To all of my readers, (well, both of you!), take care.

I thought I’d finish with a loosely related poem from happier times.

On the success or otherwise of disposable barbecues
Not like that time at West Wittering,
a gaggle of teenage girls,
enough matches to model a battleship.
Each sparked a flicker of yellow
soon extinguished;
a barbecue that wouldn’t burn.
Eventually we got it going,
huddled bags and boxes around
damp coal and spent splints of wood.
The wind dropped enough
for smoke to just about take hold,
too fast the flames were done.
This time we were promised instant light;
for once the marketing spiel was true,
and as the sky began to turn
a mellower shade of gold,
the last of the kite-surfers
packed up and drove home.
On the other side of the Solent,
streetlamps from Ryde to Bembridge
were necklaces of precious jewels.
As charcoal embers glowed,                                  
we sank fingers into the shingle,
took every breath as if it was our first.

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