#ShortWrytz : a little sand between the toes

You might not think it from the photo, but the rain was beating down when I took the shot. Tess’ pose gives a clue. She’s fed up, too…

It’s the end of August, for heaven’s sake. But Storm Francis is trying to exterminate everyone north of Birmingham…

For once, the photo is not about the collie… The subject is the faded ‘summer sign’ on the walls of the Mad Hatter cafe overlooking Heysham Beach. I’ve always been a sucker for these. They take me back to my ‘shell seeker’ childhood, when a trip on the train to the seaside was a rare and wonderful thing. Simple sentiments – like the sign – were gems of wisdom, and, having spotted them, my brother and I would run back to mum and dad to pass on the message…

They seemed simpler times…

The Mad Hatter cafe is closed. It gave up on the washed out summer about the middle of August. Some businesses can just tell when there’s not going to be a reprieve.

Other cafes higher up the street in the centre of Heysham village were open – one even letting dogs in for their owners to catch a socially-distanced hot tea and possibly a toasted tea cake, rather than die of hypothermia.

The rain never stopped, all afternoon… torrential; as the latest ‘summer’ beating from the dreaded Jet Stream conspired to drag every low-pressure system in the Atlantic over the north of England and Scotland to dump its load.

Driving home, tea and tea-cake keeping body and soul together, the weather man came on the radio. “I’m afraid the north-west of England is very wet,” he said, with genuine sympathy. They don’t often put that much emotion into the bulletins. Training, of course. Wouldn’t want us leaping off (wet) cliffs to end it all.

We made it home. I could barely see on the M6, there was so much spray. Tess, having spent the better part of two half-hours (either side of the cafe) running into the sea to retrieve her long distance floaty ball, was soaked with salt-water. Arriving at the house, I was still so wet I didn’t bother putting my supposedly waterproof coat back on. I just pulled the sullen collie to the outdoor tap and hosed her down in my jumper. There would be a hot shower, shortly… Once Bernie had stopped laughing at the state of us both.

The shell seekers would have had ‘crumpets for tea’. I think it’s Thai chicken soup… which, under the circumstances, will do nicely.

©Stephen Tanham, 2020.

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness.