we shall hear angels, we shall see the sky
Saturday, 7 June 2014
There's a beach near the bots' school where we have gone since they were small enough for me to see the tops of their heads or be in a room with them for more than eight seconds without their lips curling involuntarily and the klaxon in their brains shriek 'NOT LISTENING.'
I bought a painting of it last year at a local art fair; the artist told me how her life had cracked open and she and come here to start afresh. This was the first view she had of her new home. The painting shimmers and she told me her jeweller friend had given her a bag of diamond dust that she'd mixed into the paint she used for the sea.
It's a perfect bowl of changing sky; beige sand and curving banks of navy blue shingle, huge oyster and mussel shells crunching underfoot. When the tide goes out you can walk for miles on cool watery ridges.
The promenade is Victorian, offering careful pleasure in swan-shaped boats and swathes of stern forest-green bathing huts. They cost as much as houses in the North.
On this beach, the bots have thrown off little stripy uniforms, free from the exhausting strictures of clapping and finger-painting and shot, chubby-thighed and squealing, into the sparkling sea.
They have played cricket here, had class barbecues, sand-sculpture competitions. I'm sure they will also come here, furtively and tentatively believing they are the first generation to thrill to booze-fuelled disobedience and all the fun that brings.
They snorted in that teenage way when I told them that there was diamond dust in the painting and said I'd been ripped off and was a mug for a fairy tale.
I drove them in to do huge exams this week and went down to the beach with the dog. She squealed excitedly, remembering the time before the cool detachment of the school bus when we came down every morning after drop-off and knew all the dogs.
I let her out in the bright early sunshine and she disappeared off across the flats, running up excitedly to friends old and new, sniffing them just to make sure. I followed with a genteel tea and fistful of poo bags and looked at the spangled, glittering sea.
There's diamond dust there alright.