That staple of coastal living,
The pre-dawn chorus
Of ducks and gulls,
Of pigeons and crows,
And a single menacing magpie,
Echoes across a misty Radnor Park.
Untimely ripped from a fractured slumber,
I prepare for my morning ritual
Of checking if the sea is still there
And that this is not all a dream.
Caught in a leaf storm along Castle Hill Avenue
Joni in my ears telling me
She doesn’t know where she stands,
And there it is, that ever, never changing view!
Dunkirk and Dungeness
Wink from across the water.
The Leas is rife with life this morning
Walkers, joggers, mobility scooters,
Teenagers with learning difficulties
On escorted pilgrimages around town,
From each and every one
A “good morning” or “isn’t it beautiful?”.
This is such a friendly town.
Vacant, whispering benches
Call out across the century,
Remembrance of courage and sacrifice
That allow me to wallow
In this stunning spectacle today.
As the sun begins to burn,
Parched dogs yank at leads
And stop to lap at the cool water
Filling the empty margarine boxes
Left outside the Leas Cliff Hall.
Below, on windswept Mermaid Beach,
Young children sprint into the sea,
Mindless of the pebble and shingle
That scrape and bruise their fragile feet;
But soon they head for the refuge of towels,
New victims of the unforgiving Channel chill.
Across town, on the old, cobbled street,
Where art and cake have usurped rock,
A triumvirate of weary sprucers,
Unheralded heroes of this dirty old town,
Trudge past the The Quarter Masters store
Trailing bags of indeterminate bulk.
Young men, slaves to their primal needs,
Cajole reluctant wives and girlfriends
Into lunch at Big Boys Burger;
Buggies resignedly hauled over the threshhold
Wake the sleeping child within,
Soon to shatter the peace of other diners
At the foot of the winding hill,
Gleeful children squeal with ecstasy
As the newly repaired fountains,
Wedged between pub and seafood stall,
Erupt in thrilling power shower.
Gulls squawk and squabble
Over the crab and seafood remnants
Lobbed periodically from Chummy’s staff,
Before resuming their ablutions
In inner harbour pools
Left by the receding tide.
A single gull plants itself on a table behind Bob’s
And pleads silently for a bite of my crab sandwich,
Or the family’s chips on the next bench;
A staring contest ensues as I begin to eat,
Not daring to avert my eyes for one second.
I try to rationalise with my insistent guest,
Explaining that feeding it would be cruel
But it seems unconvinced
And resumes its glare.
As I finish the last mouthful and fold the wrapping
It flaps its wings and screeches its disappointment,
Before scooting perilously past my left ear
In pursuit of more sympathetic diners.
On Sunny Sands, oblivious of mermaid stare
Dogs scamper breathlessly after balls
Hurled by owners, equally relieved
At their release from summer banishment.
I head for Steep Street,
Swiftly become my second home,
To capture this all in print;
Renewed self-confidence, even nerve
To write this down and share with you,
Another thing to thank Folkestone for,
Or is that blame?