Tuesday, September 08, 2020
blunted jewel of the Thames estuary,
almost the proper seaside for a weary Londoner,
come for the day and walk a mile out to sea on rusting stilts.
catch the lemon sorbet before it drips,
Rock - Fudge - Hats - Fancy Goods - Ice Cream
the slot machines dispense their winnings as redeemable tickets.
the cliff lift's closed,
Adventure Island will reopen on Saturday,
find a patch of pebbles near the car park and lay your beach towel down.
the longest walk-down in the world,
pay your two quid at the ticket booth and step out,
(or take the rumbly train, but the exercise'd do you good).
a mile and a third to be precise,
try not to drop your phone between the planks,
keep left and let the nans and grandads and pushchairs pass you by.
but only if the tide's gone out,
better for worm-digging than for castle-building,
shoals of dogfish swimming slowly through the rippled shallows.
it's much further than you think,
small children wave as Sir William Heygate passes,
a group of repairmen emerge from under the pier and break for lunch.
chunky and stacked with containers,
aiming for Tilbury, London Gateway or the North Sea,
test your eyesight by trying to read the letters on the side.
slush, Calippo, Biffa bin,
fish and chips from a hut with a plywood counter,
no takers for the £17.50 afternoon tea in Jamie and Jimmy's cafe.
cafe pavilion and wooden tables,
feed the turnstones from your mobility scooter,
Olga the Octopus tempts nobody to try the 12-hole crazy golf.
Caution Lower Deck May Be Slippery
no ferries, no disembarking passengers, no access,
an angler heads to the tip of the pier with a rod over his shoulder.
because that's Kent over there,
gantries, cranes, pylons, silos, chimneys, gasholders,
the Garden of England is a thin smudge between grey sky and grey waters.
n.b. actual sun is weather dependent,
set atop the lifeboat station beside a giant bell,
nowhere to go but all the way back to the distant shoreline.