Hello to the seagull on the beach, who calmly walks into the water, bobbing on the tiny waves. Tess wants to bark, but there’s no point.
Hello to the man repairing the sea wall. Again. Like every winter. Tess sniffs. No food.
Hello to the man in his 80s, with the thinning hair and a Shelty. He forgets our names. Always. And Tess is a ‘he’. But Tess loves his dog, and they bark excitedly at each other.
Hello to the woman, walking slowly, with the overweight white Labrador. Her dog is over-amorous, and a nuisance. Tess walks on by, very quickly, tail pulled down.
Hello to the man with the irritable and antisocial brown Labrador. She wants her ball, and no dogs around her. Tess views her with suspicion. She’s been snarled at before.
Hello to the man walking back from the gym, his two border collies in the house. He has a biscuit for Tess. She is grateful, but wants more. Always.
Hello to the fit man who works from home on Fridays, leaving his van parked by the side of the house. His dog, a mongrel, belongs to his brother-in-law, but seems to live with him. Tess wants to play. His dog doesn’t, because there is a stick.
Hello to the woman who is working on her house. She doesn’t have a dog. “Bleedin’ nuisance, they are.” But Tess is always friendly, and she gets a pat on her head from the woman who doesn’t like dogs.
We are back at the house. Tess looks up. “Is that it?”
I love the walks with the dog, and we meet so many nice people. Never enough for Tess, of course.
Creased-white hands circle the plastic cup, steam rising into the cold damp air. Matching scarf and hat, woollen, fir trees, Christmas is due soon. “All right, mate? What’s it to be?” I can’t decide whether to go for the baking potatoes or the butternut squash. I settle on an apple strudel from the stall next door. And a small focaccia. I am nothing if not cosmopolitan.
A trip to the market.
Don’t let me in, will you?
That was my space.
What are you doing?
You don’t look disabled to me.
What an idiot.
The voice, with its questions and statements, is loud in my head. I keep my counsel, quiet the voice; shopping awaits.
Thoughts on a trip to Aldi.
A solitary bird, a crow.
My dog, Golden Retriever.
Bird hops, jumps, comes near.
Dog sniffs, investigates.
She wants to play.
A solitary crow, sitting on a breakwater.
It’s the first time I’ve seen a bird actually deliberately bait her. As soon as she started barking, off it flew. But only to a breakwater, where it watched from a safe distance until we had passed.
NaNo+ continues, with over 1,000 words yesterday, taking our main characters closer to their destiny.
The drab greyness of early winter paints everything with a dour patina, but the bright chirrups of starlings on the telephone wire bursts the leaden bubble and brings brightness to a dull and sombre day.
Sea, dirt-brown and churning, flotsam strewn along the promenade. Man and dog dodge puddles, seaweed, grey wood, plastic milk bottles, rope, dislodged concrete, carrier bags, and a dead gull. All of marine life, and death, is here.
Grey skies, dotted by airborne leaves, dry and husky. One cat, old and frail, looks at me with large eyes. He knows the mobile cat carrier is out for a reason. He tells me: “Really, I’m fine.”
Early-day shoppers, coats pulled tight around them, heads down, stare at wet and dark pavements. Bright-light frontages, welcoming and warming, tease and offer shelter. Coins are exchanged for items we didn’t know we wanted.
Strong sea forces have begun the long shore drift, moving tons of sand to heaven-knows-where, and exposing bases of rusting metal, rotting wood and crumbling concrete. How will these misshapen and broken objects protect our houses, our possessions, our families? But somehow, they do. The TV shows other areas, where the sea has broken through inadequate defences, and amongst the feel-good stories of pets rescued and Dunkirk spirit, are sad faces, gazing at ruined homes.
Blue skies and sun foster memories of a lazy summer. Bright greetings shouted between neighbours lift grey winter spirits. TV warns of a return to dark and wet days. ’Twas ever thus.