CONTENTS - SCROLL DOWN FOR FRONT PAGE STORIES - TWO TINY TALES OF SUMMER 'SUMMER OF EIGHTEEN' AND 'SUNNY BAY'
THE WEBSITE OF AUTHOR JANET GOGERTY
READ ABOUT THE NOVELS AND COLLECTIONS
VISIT THE AUTHOR'S LOCAL AREA AND CATCH UP WITH THE LATEST SEASONAL SHOTS
SEASIDE SCENES - 20 COASTAL SPOTS - HOW MANY CAN YOU SPOT?
TRAVEL NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND
A REGULAR BLOG ABOUT PEOPLE AND PLACES ILLUSTRATED IN TECHNICOLOUR
FOCUS ON SHORT STORIES - TWO DARK TALES OF THE FOREST
Summer of Eighteen
It was the Summer of Eighteen, the summer we thought would never begin, then never end. Flowers bloomed in a blaze of late glory then withered under the relentless sun; first there was the hosepipe ban, then the pipe ban. The ferryman was out of business, people could walk across the river at low tide. Until they emptied the municipal pool, to send tankers to market gardeners, it had been a duck and swan rescue centre. Everyone became a fisherman till the last gasping fish was scooped off the river bed.
The heath fires never went out, they joined up. After the power cuts people gathered at the edge of the heath to bake the last of the vegetables in the embers, though there was no shortage of venison. When the wild fires started on the cliff top the promenade was put out of bounds. At high tide we made our way down the narrow river channel round to the cove where we trod on burning sand and pebbles.
The leaves dropped from the trees, but autumn never came.
As I surveyed the cracked river bed I noticed him, Ben the Boiler, Evan the Inventor, we’d called him at school. Nobody had wanted his inventions so he went to work for Plumbprompt Services. Now, nobody wanted heating and there was no water to fill the boilers. Benjamin Evans was rolling logs under a stranded boatwreck. He wiped sweat from his brow, more from habit than any chance of relief.
‘How’s the sailing going Ben?’
‘Laura? Green Laura Green from school?’
I picked my way across the baked ruts; a river bed does not look how one imagines.
‘Did you get your degree in environmental science Laura?’
‘Got a first,’ I retorted ‘work for the National River Authorities now.’
He laughed. ‘Made redundant then.’
‘Planning to sail across the world?’
‘Only to the Isle of Wight.’
‘Conditions are no better there, Tennyson’s rolling green downs are the colour of toast and Freshwater Bay has none.’
‘It will soon, I can turn sea water into fresh.’
A grey sea feebly lapped the narrow strip of pebbles, the wind farm the only indication there was an horizon, blades motionless against the flat sky. The children had begged their parents to interrupt the long journey with a visit to the seaside and the signposts to Sunny Bay had looked promising. Now the sun itself had let them down.
But the regeneration plans described on the board looked exciting and the brightly coloured map hopeful; 0.7 kilometres to the pier, 0.8 kilometres to the model village and one kilometre to the boating lake and café. They followed the new concrete promenade with its shell design and blue railings until their path petered out to gravel, the railings turned rusty and lottery funding came to an end.
The family passed dog walkers, elderly couples quarrelling, bored teenagers on bikes and the benches where the local alcoholics gathered.
Hung over the padlocks and chains that barred their entry to the pier, a sign in large red letters read
DANGEROUS STRUCTURE NO ENTRY
Further on, a crooked, cracked wooden sign welcomed them to Sunshine Cove model village. The rusty entrance gate was detached from its hinges. Narrow streets were strewn with bodies, in long grass model cows lay with their legs sticking in the air and the church steeple had toppled onto a wedding party.
As the children pleaded for ice creams the family came across a pond covered in green slime and another sign.
Boating Lake Café closed for refurbishment.
FOR A MORE CHEERFUL VISIT TO THE SEASIDE TURN TO CHAPTER TWO COASTAL VIEWS
FIND STORIES FROM FLASH FICTION TO NOVELAS IN 'SOMEONE SOMEWHERE'