In this instalment, we head into the surrounding marshland and salt flats to the west of Jaywick.
Eating somewhere old. Exploring somewhere new. A journey begins. The Heart of Marshness.
The Seafisher’s Hand is an old seaside restaurant west of Jaywick, furnished with the type of tables and chairs you’d find in a school assembly hall. The tables have laminate cloths over them; once colourful, now faded, having been swapped around the same tables for a decade or more and sprayed down everyday with cleaning chemicals, slowly melting and burning away at the film covers. At least, that was the feeling. Not just of the tables, but of the whole place. This isn’t a criticism either; it isn’t dirty, it’s just old school and unabashedly working class.
Dotted around are shelves that display cheap plastic beach toys and sweet dispensers, all of them bright primary colours. The walls are busy with images, murals of an ocean fairing theme; pirate ships, anchors, sails… sailors. It’s a lot kitsch. Amongst them, you can find strange poems and customer notices painted.
“Naughty” would you be?
My transcription maintains the structure of the original text. As well as replicating its unique grammar and syntax, somewhat reminiscent of Yoda.
You hear accents from London and Essex, and frying, kitchen clatter, mugs sliding across tables, the radio playing the most cheesy, puff pop music; so sweet it could give aural diabetes. One thing that stands out, besides the awful pop music, is that it was sitting in that café that I heard for the first time that Nelson Mandela had been rushed to hospital.
After we’d grabbed our breakfast, we picked a direction and started walking. The only sensible choice seemed to be to go further along the un-travelled route, so we carried on past the Seafisher’s Hand, with some water, a little munch and at least a couple of joints stashed.
The further you go, the less appealing the beach gets; at least in the quaint British seaside village sense. First it turns to stone and shingle, the sea is grey and sandy brown, then to mud, to rubbish and rank smelling ditches which criss-cross the beach. In the ditches are shin high pools with faint chemical rainbows floating inside, flowing towards the sea.
We walked so far we left the sea wall behind and our path changed from concrete to grass. We were miles from anyone. To our left, the ocean, to our right, a drainage ditch, then farmland. I stopped when there were neither people nor houses in sight. I opened my arms out, I felt the wind blanketing my face and whipping my fringe into my eyes and I yelled, at the top of my voice, ‘Hello!’
Ben joined me. After, he turned to me and said, ‘Feels good to let it out sometimes, don’t it?’
This far along you couldn’t see the beach. All you could see were flood plains and marshland, dotted with long, brittle tufts of grass, cracked mud, tiny sluice-like ravines, a couple inches of dirty water draining around the bottom. There is rubbish, rusted metal. Further back, where the beach is still a beach, you find driftwood and whole ancient tree trunks, turned porous and white by sea water.
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