It's what I like to call a Turn The Clock Back day. The calendar tells me, with unflinching honesty, that we are now in the second half of September, moving inexorably towards winter. But the sun is shining, there is a
warm and gentle breeze, the seaside is beckoning. We appear to have turned the clock back to June or July. It may be for One Day Only but that day must be seized. Carpe diem, as Miss Delahay, my long ago Latin teacher, would surely have declaimed, theatrically.
Living at the seaside, as we do, means there is no excuse for failing to make the most of a day like this. I could, of course, have spent the afternoon in the garden but the local hardware and garden shop is not able
to deliver my bags of multi-purpose compost until Monday morning. I shall therefore declare Monday to be a Garden Day, leaving today free for a stroll along the prom, prom, prom.
Mr B is not feeling up to
a stroll, whether along the prom, prom, prom or anywhere else for that matter. He is, however, in complete agreement that one of us should partake of the "fresh sea air" as my dear Mum always used to call it. I tell him I won't be long - then realise later
that I have forgotten to put my watch back on after doing the washing-up. This means that I will be as long as it takes, which is a miraculously invigorating thought.
I walk through Marine Gardens on my way
to the sea-front and stop to talk to members of the Bowls Club who are preparing for the Start of Play. Everyone asks after Mr B and wants me to be sure to pass on their best wishes. They are not playing against another club today but have organised themselves
into two teams. This means that Marine Gardens is bound to win, I say. Nobody seems to have thought of that. I say I will be back to watch the play once I have had my Constitutional.
Oh, it is so beautiful
down on the prom! I wish I could say I keep up a smart pace, healthy-walking style, but to be honest I saunter along enjoying the warmth on my back, the sun on my face. I sit on the beach wall and phone the Youngest of the Darling Daughters for a chat. We
keep getting cut off which is slightly annoying, especially when I realise I have been chattering away to nobody.
Here I am at the Lido. A notice on the pavement reminds me that this is the turning place of
the red land train which runs between the Park on the Prom (much beloved by Young Faris) and the Lido. A family of Mum, Dad and a little lass in a swirly, lilac skirt are waiting patiently for the train to arrive. They tell me they have never ridden on the
train before so I tell them what a beautiful ride it is, especially on a day like this when the sea is sparkling, the palm trees are waving and dozens of white sailed boats are visible on the horizon. It's just like the Mediterranean, I tell them. They regard
So entranced am I by my own description that I decide I will take the train myself. Does this seem a bit strange, I ask the Mum, given that I have no children with me? She responds, stoutly,
that she thinks she would do the same if she were in my position.
Perhaps, I tell myself, I need an Imaginary Child to keep me company? I could, of course, conjure up one of the Tremendous Ten grandchildren
to accompany me - but how would I choose one above the others? It would smack of favouritism and I pride myself on not having favourites. As far as I am concerned, my grandchildren are like snow flakes - all of them beautiful, each of them unique. Even as
this fanciful thought crosses my mind, I can hear Young Morgan protesting: "I'm not a snow flake! I'm a Power Ranger!"
No, I need an Imaginary Child, just for the journey.
She is there when I take my seat in the second carriage and pay my £1.50 single trip. I don't pay for her, as she is Imaginary, and to do so might see me being regarded as a Mad Old Bat by the train driver. I notice that she holds on tight as
the train begins its turning circle, she is definitely not a risk taker, my Imaginary Child, some people (though not me, of course) might say she is a bit of a wimp. She lifts her face to feel the fresh sea air whipping her cheeks, as if she has been told,
many a time, that this will be good for her. I can tell she loves the seaside, that she is a "bucket and spader" at heart.
Excellent! She is also a waver! She and I wave crazily at everyone we pass - or at
least everyone who looks like a "waver." She is very, very good about guessing who will wave back at us and who will not. She likes to make up stories about the people we pass - where they live, what jobs they do, what hobbies they enjoy. The more unlikely,
the better she likes it.
At the Park on the Prom, our train comes to a halt and most of us dismount. I am planning to buy myself a coffee in the Marine Gardens cafe and watch the bowls for a bit, at least
until the Tea Bell rings when I will head back home to tell Mr B about my afternoon's adventures.
My Imaginary Child is going to stay on the train for the return journey. She says she won't be lonely, with
the sea, the sand and the palm trees for company but I can see she is chewing her upper lip in a gesture both poignant and strangely familiar.
I rather think my Imaginary Child is me...