Friday, January 13, 2012

Things I Noticed on the Beach

There is always somewhere people gather to relax, a place associated with exercise, hobbies, activities of great and surprising variety and strangeness. In the centre of Madrid it’s El Retiro; in my little retreat it’s the old railway line; and in Málaga it’s the seafront.

There you will find the usual collection- a large collection, even on a cool January morning- of runners, skaters, walkers, strollers, cyclists, and old people not exactly moving but not exactly keeping still. And among them, and on the beach itself, the more unusual collection; people you weren’t expecting to see but you register without surprise. The sand sculptor who has created a little zoo of flattened animals, a lion painted yellow, a giraffe with darker spots, an unhappy looking elephant, a fat rhino and a rather terrifying crocodile.

There was a girl who appeared to be testing her abseiling kit. She had stretched the belts between two trees and was repeatedly pulling it as tight as possible and checking some aspect of it which I might have been able to define more precisely if I knew anything about abseiling. I hoped that when she’d got it all set up and working she would run into it and do a kind of human catapult thing, but it turned out that that was not the purpose of the exercise.

There was a pair of middle-aged tramps who were trying to work out how to have sex on the beach without attracting attention. If they’d simply got their kit off they’d have had the entire shore to themselves in a matter of seconds but they didn’t think of that. I assume they found a solution in the end.

After the 6th Jan, the front was also full of children on new bicycles and rollerskates, and skateboards and other, more modern forms of locomotion which passed this hedgehog by some time ago. It’s a standard post-Reyes scene, in which parents with hangovers have to take the kiddies out to play with their new presents. Imagine how her eyes will light up when she sees it, they said to each other with joy both paternal and maternal as they bought the new wheels. And they were probably right, but their own eyes did not open with joy, or anything much at all, at six in the morning when they were dragged out of bed to go and watch it being ridden. Such, I imagine, is parenthood. Ups and downs

A great swarm of cotorras- a kind of small parrot, this one I think- flew around in rough formation for a while as we sat eating fish. About thirty of them, a colony formed as a result of a pair escaping from captivity some years ago. They flock, and seem to obey either a leader or a collective, sheep-like instinct to avoid being seen to stand out. As the leader of a flock of sheep at any moment is the one most recently frightened by its own shadow, so these birds seemed to go where the most nervous one was taken by its fear of noise and movement. They are emerald green and strangely compelling to watch. The photo was taken on the phone from a distance and doesn’t do them justice at all.

The fish and the prawns were excellent, too.

Now I’m back at home, working and battling the frost that covers the trees every night. Not everything in life can be selfish pleasure (well, in theory it can, of course, but I’ve never got it properly worked out).

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