Sunday, 5 June 2022

A Tale of Two Beach Huts

As the man said, before he became your annoying uncle you avoid apart from at Christmas when he tells you we should be weighing raspberries in that ancient English measure the drupe: stop me if you've heard this one before.

There were two beach huts. And one was immaculately painted and presented. For minimum of labour, it had a lawn in artificial turf. And a little decorative area of crushed slate. And summer, autumn, winter and spring it was always the same. Predictable. Low maintenance. Tidy. You knew where you were with that beach hut.

And the hut next to it was a very different proposition. Now it's possible there had been some sadness. Maybe the hut's owner was unwell. Or had died. Or it was the subject of some massive divorce dispute, to be argued about alongside who got to keep the Afghan hounds. Or maybe the owner just didn't care. But there it was, unmaintained for, I would guess, five years.

But it was in a terrible state. The paint was peeling. The fence was un-tanalised. It faced the Atlantic storms and it absorbed them all.

And the garden. What a garden. There may once have been a lawn. But it had grown wild. There were weeds halfway to the height of the hut. Feral, West Country weeds, raised on salt winds and a thousand setting suns. An affront to lovers of the Qualcast Concorde, and a challenge to the mightiest of strimmers.

And I guess in the summer the resident or residents of the looked-after summer house would sit on deck chairs on the immaculate green plastic of the turf, with their canned gin and tonic, and look out to sea and reflect on the beauty of a Somerset sunset.

And I expect they'd come down in the autumn and sit there in the beach hut with the door safely shut, drinking their exactly-measured tea out of their bran-new tartan vacuum flasks, and respect the might of the wild Atlantic as it crashed upon the rocks in a moderate breeze.

And I wonder if they kept their eyes firmly fixed to the north-west, so as not to see what new species of nettle had taken root in the patch in front of the beach hut next door.

But I hope, now and then, on a summer's day, they'd enjoy the sight of a butterfly. As it flitted across from the garden on their left. Maybe said to themselves, isn't it great when we don't try and bring everything totally under control. Before going home to buy some wasp and ant spray. Ready for next time they came.

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