Solvitur ambulando – It is solved by walking – October 2022

Words by:
Maxim Griffin
Featured in:
October 2022

4th September – the dust blows back, the year turns. By Maxim Griffin.

High tide – sand on concrete – the first murky morning of autumn is burning away, a brush mark along the horizon – a child who has not seen the sea for many months – a woman, surrounded by family – holds the railing – heavy dogs on heavy leads pull a man south – a couple walk slowly, falling in love with each other again – the ocean is the colour of wings and bombers – they are trying to fly a kite but the line gets more tangled with each crash – mid morning, the engines of the chippy fire up – fat and potato and salt – chalets with price tags, nautical themes, driftwood embellishments, numbers and names – a baby is carried on the father’s back, lolling with his flip flopped steps.

The promenade may well be the best walk in Lincolnshire – a straight line for miles – you can walk it in an hour or so – there will be ships and people and colour – the closest one can get around here to walking through a Bruegel.

A gull laughs at the edge of Mablethorpe – you can hear the depth of the water as each wave churns in – part of a buoy has made landfall – it was red once, bright as blood – the sea has sucked the colour away – there’s no trace of sewage in the water today – someone is out there, attempting to surf – it is hardly Point Break, but it’ll do.

The fog rises – blue sky coming through – the newest chalets are largely plastic – a couple have opened up, placing chairs and a folding table out front, Classic FM burbling from a small yellow radio – a man strolls by – plumes of cherry smelling ghosts from an electronic cigarette, fist clenched about a tin of Vimto. The small yellow radio chimes in the hour – 11 – short news, Charles Trenet – at the next chalet a man lights a pipe – ‘La Mer’ warbles through the wireless with impeccable timing.

On – a little girl is learning to ride the bicycle – her parents grow impatient – she collapses down in tears and clicking spokes – 400 starlings take off – look, the tide retreats – a figure walks the strandline – pausing to select rocks perhaps – the dog catches up with him and barks – two older boys are digging a hole with undersized shovels – they are up to their chests – the father grunts approval.

Marram grass takes root where it can – the wind picks up and the struggling kite launches – fast clouds cast fast shadows on to the sea – the wind quickens the waves – a gull floats idle – there have been reports of jellyfish – the wind brings them in – a plastic chair falls over and people dance around it – men go for chips.

A boy, 3 at the most, strides along the sea wall, zigzagging this way and that and is called back – his father is dressed for a different day, perhaps one at the golf club – he has a fear of gravity his son has yet to learn – a dog barks, the concentration has gone – the boy plops off the wall into the arms of golf club man.

Harried mothers marshal a sandcastle competition – best castle wins a bag of Haribo – they have bought themselves ten minutes at most – a boy with fire in his eyes claims a bucket related injustice – a moat has been dug and water fetched but the water keeps draining away – the solution is to bring more water faster – razor clam shells reinforce keeps of wet sand – an old couple keep score as though they were at the Test match.

On – it has brightened up – warm, a breeze – several families gather at a blue chalet – wet children, towels, deck chairs – the man has a camping stove on – two rings on, one for the kettle, the other for pasta – four large jars of branded pasta sauce and a sack for pre-grated cheese – there is genius at work here – cyclists comment on the smell.

The residents of a nearby care facility are heading north – chippy lunch perhaps – the support workers are masked up, keeping things moving – a woman shoos a gull away and it shines in the light – across the south, turbines flicker.

A man cuts the season’s circus posters from posts and poles – a Stanley knife and the sound of crackling tape – a gurning clown’s face stuffed into a black bin bag – a luminous sift of clouds moves south – a woman in wolf fleece rides a mobility scooter – she greets the poster man – his name is Michael – their short conversation covers the changing weather and the inevitability of death – she’s off to Lidl first though.

A seal emerges from the surf to the delight of children and the confusion of dogs – an outrider of the Donna Nook colony perhaps – seal season is coming soon – people gather in a semi-circle with camera – dogs bark and are led away – the seal turns back into the water. A couple discuss the possibility of swimming – the teeth of the sea pull back – no trace of scum or sewage today – the couple are going to risk it and scuttle off to get changed – children run across tight packed sand – bare feet, pasta smeared faces – there is one curlew trilling out there – a man pockets freshly landed flints – a child finds a holed stone the size of an ogre’s fist – the girl is dressed in the colours of a tropical bird and holds a dead starfish – the man launches a perfect skimmer, but nobody witnesses it.

Back to land – on – a man has portraits of his extended family tattooed on his calves and wears more gold than an Aztec prince – he speaks delicately to his ancient mother – the great grandchildren appear with whoops and hollers – the golden man and his ancient mother are overjoyed, glittering in the moment.

On – behind the chalets, the park is having work done – there’s been grumbling about the benches, the bowling green, the colonnades.

Down the road, a pub advertises an upcoming Elvis night – tombola, buffet supper, Hail to the King.

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