Dunk’em Dave (husband of the Youngest of the Darling Daughters) likes to tell me that I am “tribal.” I take it as a compliment because, as you know, I always think that, in the interests of self preservation,
this is the best course of action when you can’t be too sure of the intention behind a statement.
Besides, there is something rather wonderful about being
part of a tribe - it’s about belonging, isn’t it, and helping each other out, providing support, and understanding exactly where the other members of the tribe are coming from. Yesterday I was rather honoured to be invited to join the members of
a particular tribe on a Day Out at the Seaside.
The Tribe in question was formed initially out of an easy friendship which developed between the Middle of the
Darling Daughters and two other first time mums she met at ante-natal classes. In the beginning, nearly seven years ago, there were just the three of them and their first born sons. Since then between them they have added another boy and four girls to the
Tribe. Despite the fact that my daughter and her family have since moved away from the area, they still meet up pretty regularly and mothers and off-spring alike remain delightfully close.
The Rascally Trio called in to see their Grandad on their way to the beach, whirling around the house and garden like small tornados (it had been a long journey down) before being packed back into the car. I was to follow on, once
the District Nurse had called to see Mr B. “Be quick!” Faris exhorted me from the back seat as they drive off. I promised to do my best, even though events were beyond my control. In the end, it was more than an hour later before I was able to
I knew roughly on which part of Littlehampton beach I would find them. “Look out for the blue and white striped chairs,” my daughter instructed
me - but it wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Finally, after hobbling around for a bit (I kept getting pebbles in my sandals) I spotted a green dinosaur. It was Faris wrapped up in a rather splendid stegosaurus beach towel. There was no mistaking him.
I received the warmest of welcomes from the Tribe and was immediately provided with a cup of coffee, two egg sandwiches and some Garibaldi biscuits for a much-needed lunch.
I haven’t had a Garibaldi biscuit for simply ages - I had forgotten just how delicious they are. I needed the sustenance, by the way, because I was gearing myself up for The Big Build.
You see, I haven’t built a sandcastle yet this year and with the sea going out and a sandy beach fast unrolling behind it, there could surely be no better time. I immediately set to work, in my time-honoured fashion, digging
a moat - only to be told, very sweetly, by Young Ruby that she knew a better way. Well, you know me, I am always prepared to learn from the experts - and Ruby’s castle building methodology was especially inspiring. Particularly because, unlike my efforts,
it offered an easy option for others to join in. Our construction was comprised of dozens of individual castles, some large, some small, all crowded onto a sandy foundation, surrounded by a ring of shapes - stars, elephants and turtles. Provided you could
fill a bucket with sand, you were welcome on the building site. As an architect / builder, Ruby’s modus operandi was very much more inclusive than mine and I shall adopt it forthwith, next time I find myself on a sandy beach.
Our efforts reminded me of that film “Field of Dreams” - “if you build it, they will come..” - and indeed soon all the younger members of the Tribe, aside
from Matilda (the very littlest) were gainfully employed. It was Team Work At Its Very Best. My main tasks were to assist in Castle Placement, Seaweed Decoration, and General Encouragement. I like to think I played my part, as required of a Tribe Member By
I was almost as sad as Ruby when our sandcastle ended up being trampled on. I had to remind myself that, unlike castles of the Solid Variety, sandcastles
inevitably have a transient life-time - but that there will always be another day, another beach, another sandcastle.
Thank you to The Tribe for inviting
me to join you.
For one splendid, castle-building afternoon only...