What a brilliant day! On days like today I celebrate the fact that we have weather. The wind so raw, whipping the sea to a frenzy. So loud my ears ache. High contrast: interesting light when clouds shade the beach yet there is still bright, diverted light, the strong reflection off the sea and foam.
It’s messy on the beach: debris scattered not in lines. It’s another battered-feather day. The seabirds must be moulting. Peregine hovering, working hard but efficiently to stay absolutely static in the wind. Somehow it is more sinewy than a kestrel. It never flaps its wings in all the time I watch it, just writhes to keep its wind speed at perfect zero, its position frozen in the air. A kestrel would have given an occasional flicker of a wingbeat.
As with my recent visit to Seatown I did not take my still cameras but relied on the videocam and my phone. Yes I miss the flexibility and the quality of the Olympus or the Sony for that matter, but I am quite enjoying the slightly strange colouring of the video and phone and the shortcomings of their lenses and processors gives the results an artificial air, an arty aspect.
My eye was caught by this sliver of brittle plastic from a child’s crab bucket. I think they make them specially out of plastic that goes brittle and will never last more than a few days: forget about bringing it back next year! What I like is the cheesy graphics, that’s what I picked up on first. It is so in the stream of seaside history, a stream that includes kiss-me-quick hats, rock with “Bognor Regis” right through, the Kursaal, “what the butler saw” machines, and Donald McGill postcards. I got to thinking about what makes things beautiful, what makes them trendily retro rather than crass, desirable rather than trash. If I had discovered a similar sized bit of rusty enamelled sign from the forties rather than a bit of plastic from the noughties, somehow I feel it would engender interest from people, would be imbued with historical relevance, be somehow intrinsically more valuable, artier. Why would that be? Is it just the age? If it is how the weather and the elements have altered the object then the modern should be beautiful too. Would the design be that much shoddier on the modern object? I am very interested in the whole thing about popular values: about religious relics and their modern day equivalents, celebrity ephemera. Even in Chaucer’s day everyone knew that most relics were “pigges bones”, no less fake and mass produced than today’s celebrity souvenirs.
The spray was seriously damp at times. I was caked in salt and I had to clean my glasses many times to refresh the sparking clarity of the scenes before me. Once again I was worried the tide was coming in too fast for me to get back along the beach. As the tide reaches the top of each platform on the beach there is a sudden decrease in the available dry beach. A few waves have reached, wind-driven, to the grey mud of the cliff edge. No problem in the end.