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104


Laura’s Family

1 Visit Sunny Dunehaven

I am thy toad that evill shalt feare

Whatever thou sayest theye shalt heare,

Woe to the wikked for theye shalt rue

Whatever thou tellest them theye shalt doo.”

It was a lovely warm summer Saturday in the middle of July. The holiday season in my home town of Dunehaven was reaching its’ peak, especially now that the schools were about to close for the long summer holidays. Families with kiddies would soon begin to descend on seaside holiday resorts like Dunehaven all along the south coast of England. They would be joining young couples and youth groups, who were already here and increasing in numbers. I had thought that this year we locals would experience the usual quiet and relaxed holiday atmosphere that we always have done. But this summer was destined to be a bit different from the usual thronging of happy go lucky normal crowds that we were used to. But, more about that later.

So there I was, relaxing at a table with a mug of hot Cappuccino coffee and waiting for my wife Laura to come and meet me in The Sugar Shack coffee bar on the pier. I had with me some reading matter to occupy my mind while I waited for her. They were two glossy colour magazines, which I had picked up for free from the tourist information centre at the top end of the pier on my way here. So I started to read and study one of them. The first was a brand new holiday brochure promoting family summer holidays in Dunehaven and published in an official capacity by Dunehaven Town Council. I found it intriguing and fascinating because never before had my small home town been promoted as a holiday resort on so grandiose a scale in any glossy publications until now. The hype and spin on the introduction page of the glossy brochure read as follows:

Dear Holidaymaker,

Welcome to Dunehaven, a small but bustling holiday resort on the south coast of England, with an extensive sandy beach and many large sand dunes at its’ western end. We are an expanding and growing little town with an expanding and growing population. But we are much more than just those things. Our amenities and visitor attractions are also expanding and growing to reflect this. All along the seafront and around the town centre there are now more shops and cafes, amusements and arcades, than ever before. The centrepiece of our seafront is of course the pier supporting its’ early twentieth century glasshouse, The Sugar Shack café, with its’ wonderful new computerised drinks dispensing machine. Food wise there is a wide selection locally produced cakes and pastries available, not to mention some exciting locally caught seafood snacks to purchase. The floral gardens, which were created in the 1950’s when Dunehaven first became a resort, have been expanded further along the seafront in both directions. Water features include a much enlarged boating lake and paddling pool. A crazy golf course, model village and children’s go-karting circuit have been completed and are now ready to enjoy. We have also greatly enlarged and improved the Golden Sands amusement park, including the construction of the giant Shark Ride rollercoaster imported from the Rolleride Company in the United States. A new multiplex multiscreen cinema has been built to replace the aging single screen one in Stanley Road.

For holiday accommodation we have three hotels, The Sussex, The Dorset, and the centrepiece of them being the Ryman Hotel with its’ famous seafood restaurant. There are also many guest houses to suit all pockets on or within walking distance of the seafront.

At the far western end of Dunehaven there lies the small fishing harbour of Sandy Cove with its ever popular restaurant and pub, The Drunken Sailor, which often plays host to local music events and competitions. Overlooking the harbour is the popular beauty spot and picnic area of Camberwell Heights. It was named after the rare Camberwell Beauty butterfly, which is known to have a small breeding colony there. If you are lucky you may well catch sight of this rare and colourful butterfly while taking a stroll up there on a sunny day in the spring or summertime.

Finally, new developments nearing completion include the construction of over a hundred new beach huts for sale or hire stretching out to the west, and the building of a new RNLI lifeboat launching station and observation tower at the eastern end of the seafront. We hope that you and your family will enjoy your stay with us, whatever your needs and interests, and whatever time of year you come. Happy holidays!

Yours Sincerely,

Peter Goldstone.

Chairman, Dunehaven Town Council.

Naturally all of the aforementioned was accompanied by many large colour photographs with captions, and showing the various places to visit off to the best effect.

Then I started to read and study the second magazine, which was completely different in attitude and style. It was a quirky youth culture and fashion magazine called Rodd World which, co-incidentally, contained a major article about day trips and holidaying in Dunehaven for its’ devotees. The article concerning Dunehaven read as follows:

Greetings to all you dudes and chicks out there! The future of cool belongs to us. In this edition of Rodd World the editorial staff have been really busy with our hip scene research on all the cool places to visit this summer, and we have some red hot news and stuff for you. Dunehaven, yes Dunehaven, you may not have heard of it yet, but you soon will do. It may sound dingy and dull, naff and quaint, the sort of hang out for old crinklies lounging around in hotel lobbies and waiting to kick the bucket, and stuck out in the middle of noncey nowhere land; and indeed it used to be exactly that. But things change and its’ location on the south coast of England and still within easy reach of the capital makes it ideal for Rodd meetings, parades and excursions. Even though it only has a small (although expanding) seafront promenade - which is not much to look at if you ask me - it more than makes up for this with its’ broad promenade, which is perfect for posing and modelling on. We are sure to get the widespread attention of the press and news media. Beyond this there is a sandy beach with giant grassy sand dunes spread around it, these are also ideal for posing and modelling on. Although not on the same scale as Brighton or Bournemouth, there are still enough amenities, attractions and things to do, and plenty of cheap accommodation of course; which is all that really matters anyway. The night scene also has great potential if you are prepared to rough it a bit. After dark, the extensive beach and sandy dune area makes a great place for beach parties. There is plenty of potential for bonfires, boozing, joint puffing, glue sniffing, chick picking, logflogging, and any other ‘physical’ activities that large groups might feel the urge to indulge in. (Know wot I mean, know wot I mean, nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more). Take my word for it; Dunehaven really is an idyllic setting for gatherings and parades. So dudes and chicks have your rally and meet up with other members of the Rodd pack here!

Yours till we meet up again,

Jonathan Rodd.

Editor-in-Chief.

Rodd World.

Copyright Rodd Enterprises Limited.

The following pages contained several rough and ready looking photographs of Dunehaven beach, seafront and pier. They were in complete contrast to the bright and sunny pictures reproduced inside the Town Council brochure, having been taken on a somewhat dull and overcast day, and looking like it was about to rain. At this point in time I really had no idea exactly what a Rodd was, although I supposed it must be something to do with being a follower of Mister Rodd, the creator of this publication. But what Rodds might do concerning all this “posing and modelling” at their gatherings, and precisely what the purpose of all this might be was a complete mystery to me. Did they really think that they would get away with smoking joints on a public beach? As for “logflogging” well, I dared not begin to speculate exactly what kind of activity that might be! Was it the sort of thing one did in public? Or in groups? I shuddered to think.

Deep in thought, I placed the magazines down, rested my elbows on the table top and raised the coffee mug to my lips. As I took a long sip I glanced upwards and caught sight of someone with whom I am very familiar come striding in through the sliding electric doors. It was my friend Debra Twigg. Wearing a white lacy blouse and a short black mini-skirt showing off her lanky and bare legs, she stomped along in a somewhat angry and sulky way. I got the impression that she was really miffed about something. Unusually for her, she was all alone and was not accompanied by her long term live in boyfriend Vincent Berry. Indeed, he was nowhere to be seen. Something was definitely amiss I thought, they must have had some silly argument about something or other I hazard to guess. Catching sight of me sitting on my own in a seating booth, she came storming over to me. Without saying a word, she sat down opposite me, blinked and stared at me momentarily, and then began to look down at her shoes and visibly sulk. I paused, and waited for her to say something, but she still didn’t speak.

“Ah-hh! Debra arrives, so how are things with you today then?” I enquired all innocently and pretended not to notice that something was wrong.

“Bloody, bloody awful.” She replied, looking up at me with a scowl.

“Why? What’s happened now?”

“It’s Vince. I don’t think I am going to be with ‘im for much longer. We might be splittin’ up soon.” She whined and continued to sulk.

“Why, what’s he done now?”

“It’s what he’s goin’ to do.”

“Aw no-oo, he’s not dumping you for another woman is he? Cos’ if he is then he’s a rotten dirty love rat if you ask me.”

“No, it’s worse than that.”

“What you mean much worse?”

“Much, much worse.”

“Don’t tell me he’s got some health problem, he’s not been diagnosed terminally ill; he’s not dying is he?”

“Nope, nope much worse than that.” She shook her head vigorously.

“I give up, what on earth could be worse than either of those two things?”

“He’s gonna have a sex change.”

“He wha-aat!” I nearly dropped my coffee cup.

“He’s going in for a complete sex change.”

“You’re kidding! He’s not is he? That doesn’t sound like the Vince I know. Where is he right now anyway?”

“He’s in that River Island clothing shop. I heard him telling a girl in there that he wants to have a sex change; you know the op to chop orff his dongle and nuts. So I walked orff and left him in there. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life living with another woman. I don’t wanna become a lezzie just to suit his new lifestyle choice.” She began to visibly shake and weep. I saw several large tears come rolling down her cheeks and splash onto the table top.

“No, I don’t suppose you would want to do that. But why on earth does he want to have this sex change op all of a sudden?”

“It’s because his underpants don’t fit him anymore.”

“But that’s completely daft. It’s a really, really silly reason. If his wedding tackle is getting too big and bulky then why doesn’t he just buy some larger more reinforced underwear?”

“I dunno. But he’s determined to go ahead with it, cos’ I heard him telling this girl and then an older woman who was her boss, that he wanted a complete sex change.”

“But why would he tell them that information and not you?”

“I dunno. Maybe he was too scared to tell me or sumfin’.” She buried her face in her hands and began to sob quite loudly. I heard the sliding doors swish open again and looking up I saw Vince come striding in. Catching sight of me and Debra he came strolling over towards us, looking somewhat confused and bewildered.

“Oh, here you are, in here with Rob. What’s the matter with you? Why did you go storming off and leave me in the underwear shop like that?”

“I don’t want you to have a sex change just because your underpants don’t fit you anymore!” She sobbed even louder. The young woman serving drinks from the machine and several other customers on the other side of the room stopped what they were doing to turn and stare at us.

“I’m not! I’m not having my meat and two veg chopped off, whatever gave you that idea you daft moo?”

“But I overheard you telling those two women in that shop…..”

“They were shop assistants; I was taking back those two packets of underpants I bought there because they were the wrong size. I told them I wanted to have an exchange.”

“Oh-hh…..” She fell silent and stopped crying as the penny dropped.

“Ah-hh, ha, ha!” It made me laugh out loud.

“You daft cow, I wouldn’t go in for a gender reassignment at any cost. I’m not going to take female hormones to grow some titties. Besides, how are we supposed to start a family soon if I have all my wedding tackle removed?”

“You’re starting a family soon?” I was intrigued.

“Yes…..well, we’re thinking about it anyway.” He shrugged.

“Would you like to order something now?” A waitress came over to us with a pencil and notepad in hand.

“Yes please, two cappuccino coffees and two prawn sandwiches…..No, make that three prawn sandwiches; one for Rob as well for putting up with all this daft nonsense.”

“Thanks.” I smiled back at them. The lady went to fetch the order.

“If we do have any kiddies then I hope that they don’t grow up to be as daft as you.” He told her. I felt like telling him that being daft and is what Debra is famous for; gormless is her middle name, but I thought it best to hold my tongue. Our food and drink was duly delivered and we all silently got stuck in. After all that Debra heaved a huge sigh of relief and cheered up enormously. I finished eating my sandwich and then turned to address Vince.

“So what do you make of all this Rodd business in the newspapers then?” I had assumed that he knew what I was talking about.

“Rodd business? What Rodd Business? What’s a Rodd?”

“Oh…..you haven’t read anything yet. Here have a read of this and tell me what you think.” Opening up the Rodd World magazine, I folded it over to the article featuring Dunehaven and then handed it to him for him to study. While I waited patiently for him to read it, Laura arrived at The Sugar Shack. She came in wheeling our little three year old daughter Tammy along in her pushchair. She was wearing her long white summer frock, the one with all the large yellow sunflower prints on it, and Tammy was wearing her little toddler plain white summer frock in tandem with her mother. Momentarily glancing around to see where I might be, I gave her a wave to attract her attention. Catching sight of me, she smiled and waved back and then came over to join us. She parked Tammy at the end of the table and sat down in the empty seat beside me as I shuffled along to make it vacant. There was a white plastic shopping bag bulging with shopping hanging from the handle of Tammy’s pushchair. I could see an unusual cellophane packed package poking out from the top of the bag.

“What’s that you’ve got in the bag then?” I enquired. She took it out and laid it flat on the table to show me.

“And where’s my kiss?” She asked.

“Oh…..” I turned sideways to embrace her and our lips met for a long kiss of greeting.

“I went to Mothercare and I bought a kids’ bathing costume for Tammy. It’s very fashionable and cute, see here…..” Lifting up the bag vertically, she tore open the top and pulled it out to show me. The garment was a white one piece girls’ swimsuit, there were no patterns or writing on it, just a plain creamy white. It had little tie up shoulder straps that could be adjusted for length. The material was quite thick and strong to resist the wear and tear and the rough and tumble of a child’s running, swimming and playing. It was also designed to stretch quite a bit in all directions to accommodate a child’s growth rate.

“That ought to do the job quite nicely.” I commented.

“What has she worn for swimming up to now then?” Vince wanted to know.

“Well…..er-rr, nothing much really, she’s just been wearing her thin cotton knickers, which aren’t really suitable because they won’t last long in the sand and sea.”

“This sounds like a good investment then.”

“Yes, it’s good to have the right gear for the job.” She confirmed.

“Let’s ‘ave a good look at it then.” Said Debra as she reached forward to take it out of Laura’s hands for a close scrutiny. Turning to face the entrance doors where the bright summer sunlight came streaming in, she held it up to the light to study the material more closely.

“Yep, that oughta be OK. I don’t think there’s much chance of it going see froo when it gets wet.”

“I should hope not. I want Tammy to be able to preserve some degree of modesty and decorum while out bathing in public now.”

“Perhaps you should get yourself an adult version of the same style of bathing costume now.” I suggested.

“I’ve done better than that; I’ve got myself a sexy little tie up bikini for the beach. It’s in the bag under those toilet rolls.”

“Oo-oh! Let’s have a look at it! What colour is it?” I exclaimed excitedly as I reached forward and began to rummage around under the domestic shopping items. It didn’t take me a moment to find it. Pulling it forth, I laid out another cellophane packet on the table for everyone to see.

“It’s white, the same as Tammy’s one. You two like dressing in sympathy with each other don’t you?” remarked Vince.

“A creamy white.” She corrected him.

“Wot no bikini for Tammy as well?” Debra wondered.

Mothercare doesn’t make them that small.”

“Still…..maybe one day…..” I added.

“By then she’ll most likely be old enough to wear an adult bikini and buy it herself.”

“Of course. Have you finished with reading that article yet Vince?”

“Yeah…..er-rr, well…..to be completely honest, I don’t know what I really think. I hope that there aren’t too many of these Rodd people coming our way and that they don’t overwhelm our town. I hope that they don’t crowd the rest of us out on the beach and in the cafes and such anyway.”

“Wot’s a Rod anyway? Isn’t it some sort of metal pole or sumfin’?” Debra was puzzled.

“That’s Rodd with two d’s instead of one. According to that magazine article and something I read in the newspaper yesterday, it’s some sort of new fashion movement, you know a cult group or something. It appears that they like to visit seaside holiday resorts for their mass gatherings and now Dunehaven has become top of their list.”

“Just as long as they don’t bother us that’s all.” Vince said solemnly. With that I supped my coffee in silence. By now little Tammy had dozed off to sleep. As we bought various cakes, biscuits and more cappuccino coffees for ourselves, the four of us continued to chat and debate some more. Presently, after bidding our farewells to Vince and Debra, Laura and I, with a very tired Tammy, caught the next bus home. With high pressure dominating the south coast and reluctant to move away, the weather remained fine and sunny all through that weekend and well into the following week. It seemed that nothing could spoil or interrupt our peaceful life in our quiet little seaside idyll.

Early on the following Sunday morning, before we set off for church, we had a visit from the local health worker, or community nurse, who came to do a quick health check on Tammy. The nurse did a thorough test, which included her eyesight, hearing, throat, blood pressure, breathing and reflexes. She concluded by doing a close inspection of Tammy’s unusual birthmark. It is situated on the outside of her left thigh, about midway between the hip and the knee. It had been there from birth and during this whole time it hadn’t moved or altered in size or colour. Taking out a magnifying glass, the nurse lifted up one side of Tammy’s little white frock to examine it in close up. In this location there is a reddish-purple ‘port wine stain’ in the shape of a perfect crescent moon about one inch in diameter. Instantly the nurse seemed puzzled.

“Hmmmm…..I simply can’t understand it. Now that she is more than three years old this birthmark should be almost gone by now, but it hasn’t faded or begun to disappear one little bit.”

“Yes it’s a bit strange isn’t it?.....” I commented.

“…..We’re just glad that it isn’t anywhere noticeable or embarrassing like on her face or neck. That would be a bit of a social handicap.”

“Yes, it could have been like that.”

“Have you seen any other children with a birthmark the same or similar to this?” I felt it would be interesting to enquire.

“No, never.” The nurse replied.

“I think it’s been put there to signify that she is something different and special. A bit like a hallmark stamp on a gold watch or a silver plate to show that she’s the authentic article. You know, like she’s a genuine Red Moon Child.” Laura added with a knowing nod. The nurse didn’t know what to say to that, so she just kept silent. Putting all her equipment away in her medical bag, she bade us farewell and left. We put our shoes and coats on and went to church to meet Dolores and The Reverend Popplethwaite, although we were a little late.

2 Beach Matters

The next day was Monday, and after I had finished work setting up displays and serving customers in Ye Olde Curiousity Shoppe, the little gift shop where I worked, I then went to meet Laura and Tammy at the childcare centre where she worked. I had been collecting Laura in this way nearly every day since before Tammy was born. Working in a childcare centre for small children was very useful for placing your own little ones there safely for the day before they grew old enough for school. There was no charge or deduction from wages, as it was a perk of the job.

After greeting each other with a kiss in the reception lobby, we made our way towards the seafront. Since the weather had continued to be warm and sunny, we thought that we’d go for a stroll along the promenade before catching the bus home. As we were quietly walking along, I sensed that Laura seemed to be uneasy about something. She kept sighing as if she wanted to say something but couldn’t find the right words.

“You seem restless today, what’s the matter honey?”

“It’s Tammy. I’m really worried about Tammy…..”

“Why, what’s happened?”

“OK, so it’s like this. I took her to the beach today during my lunch break. As usual she wanted to go paddling in the sea, so I thought that now would be the time to try out that new swimming costume on her. So I took off her shoes and dress, then she pulled down her knickers and took them off on her own without waiting for me to do it; she’s never done that before. But when I took out the new costume from my shoulder bag to show it to her, she just shook head and pushed it away. Would you believe it? She just ran off into the surf with nothing on. I have tried and tried to persuade her to put on the new outfit but she just won’t wear it. She prefers to go swimming in the altogether, you know, stark naked!”

“I guess nudists are starting really young these days.” I couldn’t help sniggering.

“It’s not funny; she has got no modesty or public decorum at all.”

“Little kids rarely do have. I think modesty and public self-consciousness have to be learned.”

“Yes, but I don’t know what I’m going to do the next time we go to the beach to go for a dip. I very much doubt if my wearing that new bikini or any one of my other one piece swimsuits will entice her to wear anything. She’s become an embarrassment to me. I can’t force her to wear it, but I can’t see her go swimming in the nude either. What on earth am I to do with her now?”

“Shall I tell you what I think?”

“Yes, go on then.”

“Let her go in naked for now until she starts to become more self-aware. Then when she realises that nobody else is in the buff, and that people are staring at her, she will most likely want to cover up her private bits.”

“Hmmmm….. Well, OK then, I’ll try that for a while.” She mused, while I laughed again.

We reached the broad paved area in front of the main entrance building at the top end of the pier and began to walk across it. We were then surprised to see that a major public display with promotional stands, consisting of banners, gazebos and trestle tables had been set up all over the available space. There were also several chalk written advertising billboards placed on the pavement. The owners of the new beach hut development were making a big splash promoting the sale of their new luxury beach huts. We assumed that they would all be well beyond our modest finances, so we didn’t pay much attention to all the hype. However, the last billboard we came to announced a grand prize draw to win a beach hut, with all the proceeds going towards supporting local charities. After thoroughly reading all the blurb, Laura couldn’t resist the chance, and she suddenly turned away from me and went towards the stall selling tickets. With a sigh, I reluctantly followed her.

“It’s all a big con you know, there isn’t much chance of winning.” I warned her.

“You never know. I’m gonna buy a whole book of tickets right now.”

“You’re wasting your money you know.”

“Even if I don’t win, the cash will still be going to help good causes.”

“Well…..yes-ss, there is that I suppose. I hope it makes you feel good anyway.” With that I watched as she handed over a ten pound note in return for a large wad of twenty draw tickets. She then proceeded to write down our home address and telephone number into their record book. The draw ticket numbers were also made a note of. Turning away from the stall, she kissed the book of tickets for good luck. A few minutes later our bus arrived at the bus stop at the pier head, and we caught it home. We paid our fares and took our seats. Tammy’s pushchair was parked in the designated space for them between the seats. Glancing down at the book of tickets resting on Laura’s lap, I saw that it was now plastered with bright red lipstick marks where it had received several more kisses.

“Gosh, I wish that you would kiss me like that tonight. I wouldn’t mind being covered in your lipstick more often.”

“Only if you sleep in the buff tonight like little Tammy does.”

“She sleeps in the nude as well?”

“Oh yes. Well, when the weather is hot anyway.”

“OK, it’s a deal. You’ve completely messed up your lip gloss by the way, there’s more on that book than on you.”

“Oh no! I haven’t, have I?” She frantically took out her compact make up mirror from her black leather shoulder bag and hastily began to try and re-apply it again. I just laughed.

The bus dropped us off close to the end of our road and we arrived home in good time. We live in a one bedroom first floor flat in a block of four. There are two blocks of four side by side, the upper flats having external concrete staircases leading up to the front doors. We have to be really careful when taking Tammy’s pushchair up and down the concrete staircase, we don’t want to drop her and have an accident. All eight flats have a communal garden and rubbish bin area around the back. Leading away from the road, around the side and rear of our block there is a narrow alleyway with the fence of several back gardens of houses on one side, and a small wood on the other. This alleyway leads to another street containing a small corner shop and newsagents run by an erudite Sikh gentleman known as Jarinder Singh. This is where we first encountered Sheba, who became Tammy’s beloved pet nanny goat. Sheba has to be kept at Dolores’, i.e. Laura’s mothers’, house for convenience. There is also a big black rooster called Mister Coo Coo who was also ‘adopted’ by Tammy. We sometimes spend a weekend staying at Dolores’ house, which is about twenty minutes’ walk away in another street.

I watched as Laura completely undressed Tammy and put her to bed naked as she had claimed was the practice now when there is hot weather. Tammy climbed in eagerly and kicked her legs about inside the bedclothes as she was tucked in for the night. She was obviously enjoying her newly acquired freedom not to have to wear anything at bedtime. Afterwards we both went into the lounge to watch some evening TV before going to bed naked ourselves. It was getting so hot now that we had to dispense with the thick winter duvet and sleep beneath a single thin white bedsheet to keep cool now that high summer was well and truly upon us. The rest of the week passed uneventfully.

As it happened the draw for the beach hut raffle was held on the following Thursday and on the following Saturday morning we received an official and important looking letter in the mail. It had come as swift as possible; by first class post. To begin with we didn’t pay much attention to the rattle of the letterbox as we lazed in bed that morning. We slowly rose, washed and got dressed. It was not until after we’d had our morning cornflakes and coffee that Laura finally wandered into the hallway to pick up our mail from the floor. When she saw its’ significance she came running back into the kitchen to show me. I was still sitting up the table and having a second bowl of cornflakes. After throwing away several advertising leaflets into the flip top bin, she proceeded to slice open the letter with the blade of the letter opener. I kept quiet, thinking it would just be notification of someone else having won the big prize, and loads of advertising waffle trying to persuade us to donate some more money to various local charities. I was just waiting for the right moment to say: I told you so to her.

“Oo-oh…..Oo-ooooh! Rob, Rob, Rob-bb! Guess what? This letter only says that I’ve won that beach hut!”

“I don’t believe it.” I replied sardonically.

“See for yourself.” She handed me the letter to have a read, folding her arms and narrowing her eyes huffily as I did so.

Tomlinson Holiday Enterprises Limited,

18 New Road,

Websterville,

West Sussex,

WS1 8QT.

Tel: 01244 820360.

Dear Mrs Laura Johnson,

It is with great pleasure that I am writing to inform you that you are the holder of the winning raffle ticket, number 1984, in our grand charity prize draw and have won a Tomlinson Sirocco luxury beach hut located at our new site on the Dunehaven sea front. Please will you telephone our head office in Websterville at your earliest convenience to arrange a meeting with our site manager, who will then take you to the beach hut for you to sign your ownership document, and then officially hand you the keys. The local press will be in attendance to cover the story and take photographs.

May I take this opportunity to heartily congratulate you on your win and thank you for supporting Tomlinson Holiday Enterprises Limited and local charities.

I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Charles Clackhorn.

Chief Executive Officer,

Tomlinson Holiday Enterprises Limited.

“Well, I’ll be blowed…..” Was all I could say.

“OK, maybe tonight when we get back home, but right now I’ve just gotta make that phone call.”

“Oh-hh…..Er-rr, har, har, har.” I retorted as I handed her the handset to our landline telephone. She made that call.

So there we were, on our way by the first available bus, with little Tammy strapped in her pushchair, to the top of Dunehaven pier, and straight to the promotional office where Laura had bought her book of raffle tickets. Having been alerted by phone to our impending arrival, the site manager greeted us with a cherry smile and a handshake as soon as we stepped inside the door. He was Richard Clackhorn, as it turned out, the brother of Charles. We couldn’t conceal the fact that we were bursting with excitement and anticipation. All this in less than an hour since Laura had opened that letter. He was handed a set of keys by a female co-worker, which he carefully placed inside the left hand pocket of his jacket. Then he took out a mobile phone from his other jacket pocket and proceeded to call the local press to invite them to rendezvous with us at the beach hut. He gave them precise directions and they replied that a reporter and a photographer from The Dunehaven Gazette were being despatched straight away. Together we left the building and headed westwards along the seafront promenade to the beach hut. Realizing that something momentous was afoot, Tammy began to gurgle and bounce up and down excitedly in her pushchair. He was such a fast walker, and with such long legs, that we had trouble trying to keep up with him as he strode along. Laura had to jog at times to try and keep up, the right front wheel of Tammy’s pushchair wiggled about madly with the sudden bursts of speed. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what to expect, but resolved not to be too disappointed if it wasn’t quite as luxurious or spacious as I’d imagined.

The beach hut lay right at the far end of a block of twelve in a row. They were all painted in a wide range of bright gaudy colours, covering the entire rainbow. Our hut by contrast was a pale shade of military green, as if it were camouflaged and trying to be discreet and unobtrusive. The number on the door was twenty-four. The Tomlinson range of beach huts were all named after winds; ours was a Sirocco, while others in the range included Mistral and Bayou. It turned out to be somewhat larger than I thought it would be; in fact they were all built to be family sized, which made me feel very satisfied.

We had to stand outside the front for a few minutes as we waited for the press to arrive. Presently, a reporter and a photographer came trotting up from the opposite direction from whence we had come. After all the greetings and introductions we were given a brief interview, with some background information provided. Then several photographs were taken of Mister Clackhorn handing a set of keys on a large metal keyring to Laura while the two of them stood in front of the hut and smiled at the camera. Next he unlocked the door and opened it wide. I couldn’t resist a quick peek inside. Finally, several more pictures were taken of all four of us standing together, my right arm around Laura and with my other hand holding a handle of Tammy’s pushchair as she sat out in front. Laura then signed the acceptance and ownership forms, for Tomlinson’s and The Land Registry’s records.

Once the pleasantries were over with and the press departed, Mister Clackhorn proceeded to show us around inside. It was better than I’d supposed, it was truly luxurious inside. There was a basic electricity supply; the bills of which we were told should be paid via our home address. A single lamp with a pink spherical paper shade surrounding it, hung from the centre of the ceiling. There were several plug sockets around the three windowless walls. A double socket was beside a long wooden shelf, useful for plugging in a kettle, charging up a mobile phone, or even setting up a laptop computer. Immediately under the wooden shelf there was a small fridge to keep things like milk and ice creams in. I asked if there was wi-fi to receive an Internet signal and he replied that could be fitted at our own expense by a service provider if we wanted it, but the electricity supply for such a transmitter was certainly there. There was of course no plumbing, so therefore no toilet or wash facilities, but that didn’t bother us; there was a public lavatory block with wash basins about a hundred yards away back in the direction of the pier. We could also obtain fresh drinking water from there to top up a kettle for teas and coffees, etc. The inside walls were decorated with pretty pink wallpaper and the floor was covered with white Norwegian pinewood slating, which was waterproof and easily washable. Furniture consisted of two pink wickerwork chairs, a small collapsible table and even a fold up single bed pushed up against the far wall, which had a long rectangular rug in front of it. At the foot of the bed there was an electric heater for the wintertime and a wooden clothes horse or dryer for hanging wet clothes on. There was a little more room to add more of our own seats and tables, if required. There was also room to have a few guests in if we wanted to entertain, although I could discern that would begin to make things a bit crowded. Then I thought how it would also make a great little secret hideaway love nest as well. All in all, Laura and I were well pleased with our new beach hut home.

The following day was Sunday and we resolved to get up early that morning and return to our new beach hut to stock it up, customise it, and really make it our own. This of course meant that we would have to forego The Reverend Popplethwaite’s usual morning church service for once, and the following Sunday dinner with Dolores at her house. To compensate, we took a packed lunch to eat on the job, so to speak. We took so much stuff up there that we needed to order a taxi to ferry everything we wanted to keep and use up there. Then we both had to carry it all in three trips back and forth down the concrete steps beside the toilet block. It was hard work lugging so much stuff but we knew it would be worth it in the long run. We parked Tammy in her pushchair just outside the open door of the hut to guard everything. She was coached to stare any would be thieves directly in the face, and order them to depart empty handed if they tried to pinch anything. Either that or instruct them to hand themselves in to the nearest policeman to confess all and ask to be arrested. With her developing powers we knew that tammy fully understood us and was well capable of enacting such a coup. Luckily, this wasn’t necessary.

We took an electric kettle, a teapot, mugs, teaspoons, etc., and with a good supply of various brands of tea, coffee, milk and sugar. Certain other foods were taken to be stored up there; these included sausage rolls, scotch eggs and mini pork pies. There were plenty of boxes of cereal bars, pots of yoghurt, packets of crisps and nuts, sweets, and a large bar of smooth chocolate for good measure. We knew that we would need some kitchen rolls and toilet paper to clean up spills and for blowing noses, wiping ice cream away from Tammy’s grubby mouth, etc. For those hot summer days we took several beach towels, along with trunks and bathing costumes. We also took along spare day clothes, including underwear, and blankets, woolly hats and scarves for the wintertime. We placed three fold up camping seats up against the wall for use on the beach or for guests. A large golfing umbrella was leaned right up in the corner at the foot of the bed to use as both a rain shelter and as a sun shade as required. Laura hung a few flower pictures around the three walls. Other electricals included some hand torches in case of a power failure, chargers for mobile phones and a large digital radio. Reading matter included some women’s magazines, a small wildlife handbook with photographs about seabird identification, and a large book of word puzzles. Other vital accessories included note paper and pens, a Swiss army pen knife, needle and thread, a box of matches, scissors, corkscrew and a bottle opener. Naturally, we didn’t leave out a blow up beach ball and Tammy’s extensive collection of brightly coloured plastic buckets and spades and little sand castle flags. Finally, Tammy’s as yet unworn new bathing costume was hung up on a hook on the far wall to keep it clean and dry and ready to use at any time.

Presently we stepped outside to survey our handiwork and consider what else might be desirable to bring or do.

“Anything else?” I enquired of Laura.

“Mm-mmmm…..Nope, I can’t think of anything else right now…..” She mused with her hands on her hips.

“Well…..we can always come back if anything else needs doing.” I concluded.

Looking round in the distance, we noticed a middle aged man coming towards us from the opposite direction to which we had come. Briskly striding along, he was exercising a large brown Boxer dog on a lead and he was casually dressed in a tee shirt, shorts and tatty trainers. We didn’t know him, and at first we paid little attention to him. That was until he did something appalling once he had drawn up to within a few yards of us - or rather his dog did. Close to the promenade wall to the left of our new hut, there stands a somewhat old and rusty metal lamppost that has been there for as long as we can remember. It was part of the original early Twentieth century street décor, that is, when Dunehaven had first become a holiday resort. Attached to this lamppost at about eye level was one of a series of brand new little metal notices that the council had only very recently put up at strategic locations all along the sea front and pier. It was there to relay some new beach byelaws which had recently been passed.

Dunehaven Town Council

Beach Byelaws 9 Section 12(a)

In the interests of public health and safety:

Please keep your dog on the promenade and on a lead

No dogs allowed on the beach

No dog fouling on the promenade or beach

Penalty £1000 fine

Be a responsible dog owner

Clean it up!

The last line was written in red, presumably to emphasize the instruction more forcefully. It was as if this man treated the new signage as an invitation to do just that; foul the walkway - or rather his dog. They paused right beside this historic lamppost, and he just stood there, watching nonchalantly, while his dog squatted down its’ rear end in order to relieve itself and produce a large brown deposit right at the base of the lamppost. The dog whined audibly as it strained to squeeze it out. And believe me, it really was a very big deposit, a full twelve inches at least. The dog stood up again and panting, looked its’ master in the face. The man briefly looked down to check that everything was in order. He wanted to be certain that there were no more pieces needing to drop down. Satisfied that there weren’t, the man slowly started to lead the dog away. We could clearly see that he wasn’t going to do anything about the mess. Each with a shrug, Laura and I glanced at each other in horror.

“What the?.....I hope you’re gonna clean all that muck up mate!” I shouted to the man.

“Naah! I don’t think I’ll bother. Why should I?” He laughed and shook his head dismissively.

“It’s in the interests of public health and cleanliness.”

“Lo-ook, don’t worry about it, it’ll soon wash away in the next shower of rain.”

“Look, what does that say on that sign up there?” I pointed angrily to the lamppost now behind him.

“I know what it says, I’ve read it all before and I don’t take any notice of all that.”

“There’s a thousand pound fine you know. You got enough cash to pay it then?”

“Hey, do you see any dog wardens anywhere around here? So who’s gonna fine me then? Not you that’s for sure.” He stopped and shrugged, again in an indifferent manner.

“Do I have to be one then before you’ll clean it up?”

“So what are you gonna do about it then, eh?” He started to get bolshie.

“I’m a mother and I’ve got a small child here, we use this beach all the time and we don’t want it made foul by selfish lazy people like you. I don’t want my child stepping into that and catching some horrible disease. That’s a filthy disgusting health hazard so bloody well clean it up right now!” Laura screeched at him in a full throttle rage. I have very rarely ever seen her so incensed, but this was obviously pushing all her buttons.

“Aw bugger off you interfering busybodies! I ain’t cleaning it up and you can’t make me!” Screwing up his face contemptuously, he bellowed back to both of us and then turned to continue on his way.

“You wanna bet.” I replied in a low monotone voice.

“I beg your pardon mate?” He said aggressively.

“I said you wanna bet.” I spoke up to make myself heard. The man just stood there, and arrogantly placed his hands on his hips to challenge me. Turning to Laura, I frantically gestured with my arms.

“Laura, quick, quick, pass me your bag!” She dashed briefly inside the hut, and then jumped back out again clutching her black leather shoulder bag. I reached out to take it from her, but she kept it close to her.

“No, no, no…..let me do it.” She insisted. Lowering my hands obligingly, I stepped back to let her do the honours.

“What? Are you gonna chuck something at me then? Hey wow, like I’m really scared!” The man taunted us. Laura ignored him and quietly stuck her right hand into the bag and grasped hold of our ancient fossil toad relic inside. Being well practised at this by now, she spoke loudly and clearly, and carefully worded her instructions.

“Now you listen to me you stupid arsehole…..” She paused as the man suddenly went silent; the smug grin fell from his face. He frowned and went into a deep trance, as if trying to figure out what was happening to him.

“…..You are going to pick up that poo right now, and take it with you all the way back to your home.” She continued. He stared down at the turd in deep contemplation as he absorbed these instructions.

“Must…..pick up poo…..right now…..and take it home…..” The man muttered under his breath. He was getting the message. With a sudden flash of inspiration I stepped into our hut and then came back out again holding one of the small cardboard boxes that had previously contained two dozen cereal bars.

“I’ve got something here for him to carry it in.” I said to Laura and handed her the box. She eagerly accepted it.

“I have a box here for you to take it home in.” She stepped forward and handed it to him. Still staring down blankly at the offending object, he took the box and stooped down close to it. Slowly turning the box on its side, he laid it on the concrete beside the deposit and then proceeded to roll it delicately inside with the palm of his left hand. He was very careful not to smear it or cause it to break up. When he had finished his task, he turned the box back upright and triumphantly raised it up in both hands. With a look of joy, he beamed back at us as if completing some dangerous and difficult undertaking.

“Now take it home with you…..”

“Must take it home with me…..” He repeated parrot fashion. She was going to end the commands at this point, but I realised that they were incomplete. There was another task I really wanted him to do. Putting my forefinger to my lips to indicate silence, I gently took Laura’s bag from her. She released the toad and I then put my left hand inside to take a firm hold of it.

“And when you get home put your doggie poo on display in your front room.”

“…..Must put poo on display in my front room.” He confirmed with a nod. Laura couldn’t help letting out a loud snort, but she quickly managed to stifle her amusement and not burst out laughing just yet. The dog tilted its’ head and looked at her quizzically.

“There, that’s all finished now.”

“…..There, that’s all finished now.”

“Ooops!” I hastily let go of the toad, closed the bag up tight and handed it back to Laura to avoid confusing him. Wrapping the end of the dog lead three times around his right hand, the man cradled the box containing its’ precious cargo in his left arm and casually continued on his way. The dog coughed and let out a single short bark, as if to acknowledge that everything was finally complete and in order now. We still didn’t know who the man was, nor where he lived, but we knew that he would carry out his instructions to the letter; and that was all that really mattered. Once he was well and truly out of earshot, Laura bent double as she burst out into a fit of hysterics. She had to let it all out. This was swiftly followed by an urgent visit to the ladies loo in the toilet block nearby, as often happens when her merriment becomes too intense. With great satisfaction, we stepped back into our hut to make two well-earned mugs of tea. Still seated in her pushchair beside us, Tammy was silent and looked somewhat bemused by it all. Looking across at the electric clock on the rear wall, it was fast approaching one o’clock so we decided that it was time to open up our pack lunches and eat.

The Sun blazed high in the sky and the clouds stayed away, so naturally, it got hotter and hotter and we eventually began to feel the heat. At just after two o’clock we decided that it was a good time to take a dip in the sea, to try to cool off and also to get some exercise. So Laura and I changed into our bathing attire. Sweating with the heat, I stripped off and put on my baggy blue trunks as Laura changed into a new red one-piece swimsuit. She took off her jeggings and white cotton blouse and draped them over the clothes horse beside her. This was followed by a dainty set of white lacy bra and panties. Stepping naked into the costume, she unrolled it up along her curvy body, and then unfurled the cups up over her firm perky little breasts. She raised her arms up behind her neck to tie up the halter neck bow. The swimsuit was very stretchy and clingy, so she had to wriggle and squirm about to pull it into shape and make it fit around her bust and hips as best as possible. Being straight out of Baywatch, the American TV series which had made this style popular, it was cut high around the hips with the crotch of it little more than a thong. Throwing her head back, she fluffed up and tossed her long rich auburn coloured hair to make sure that every lock was clear of the neck tie, and as she did so her largely uncovered and unfettered buttocks quivered like two pink jellies. Her bust was easily covered because she wasn’t too big and pendulous up top, but her pert nipples did tend to stand out a bit though. I guess that was all part of the fashion. Laura hadn’t gone bathing in public wearing anything like this before, and she was a little nervous and apprehensive.

“Oooh! My golly gosh, that looks really good on you.” I exclaimed.

“Does my bum show too much in this?” She enquired looking down and twisting from side to side to examine just how much of her buttocks were being revealed.

“Yes, but that’s all part of the Baywatch fashion.” I replied in a matter of fact way.

“I suppose so…..”

“You’ll get lots of blokes ogling your bum cheeks wearing that.”

“Well I don’t mind if you don’t.” Looking down, she ran her flattened palms up and down over her belly to smooth out a couple of wrinkles in the suit.

“I don’t mind too much ‘cos I know you’re mine and nobody else’s. And if you get any improper advances we’ve always got our Mister Toad.”

“Yes, that’s true.” She concluded looking back up at me. I went over to embrace her. She placed her arms around my neck as I sensuously ran my palms over her exposed hip bones and then up and down her slender tightly clad waist. With our eyes closed and tongues entwined, we had a deep long snog. Glancing across at Tammy, she gently broke away from me.

“Tammy is staring at us and she’s getting a bit restless.” I turned to see her looking sullen and kicking her legs about impatiently as she sat in her pushchair. We turned our attention towards her, as it was now her turn to be changed. Undoing the clasp on the cross straps of the pushchair, I grasped her under the arms and carefully lifted her out. She stood still and quiet on the wooden floor as I squatted down low and undid the front buttons on her little white frock. Aware of what was coming, she obligingly raised her arms up high when I lifted the dress up and over her head. I turned to drape it over the clothes rack beside me. Meanwhile, Laura had stepped over to the back of the hut to remove the little white bathing costume from its hook on the wall. She returned holding it up by the shoulder ties, one in each hand. Seeing this, a look of disdain began to spread across Tammy’s face. Paying no heed, I removed Tammy’s socks. As I turned to drape them also on the clothes rack, she promptly squatted down and pulled her knickers off all by herself; all while I was distracted. She couldn’t wait to go bathing au naturel, and she spun round and went towards the door to open it and go outside. But the handle was too stiff for her and she struggled to open the door. With a look of horror on her face, Laura dashed over towards her to stop her from going outside.

“No, no, no, sweetie! You can’t go out in public like that, you haven’t got your cozzie on yet, you’re stark naked!” She knelt down in front of her, still holding the costume up by its’ shoulder ties and proffered it to her. Shaking her head from side to side, Tammy stubbornly pushed it away.

“No…..no…..no…..nope!”

“Come on no-ow…..Mummy wants you to wear it. Wear it for Mummy.”

“No…..no…..No-oo-oooop!” She began to flail both her arms aggressively. With a loud sigh of dismay, Laura stood up and turned to speak to me.

“See what I mean? She’s got absolutely no modesty or feminine decorum at all. I simply can’t do anything with her. How long will she keep this up?” This turned out to be a big mistake. As soon as Laura’s attention was elsewhere, Tammy spun around again, wrenched open the door and darted outside before anyone could stop her. We leapt outside and ran after her. Speeding along on only little legs, we caught up with her just as she had run down a short concrete boat ramp and begun to cross the sand. It took us a few moments to realize just how hot the concrete had become to bare feet in the blazing Sun. We stopped her and found ourselves having to stand one either side of her to shield her from public gaze. We made another, more determined attempt to get her to wear the little swimsuit. I held her up high by the armpits, with her little legs kicking about madly in the air, while Laura held the costume down beneath, and stretching the top open with her hands. I lowered Tammy firmly into it and Laura pulled her legs down to make sure that they came through fully at the bottom. She quickly tied up the shoulder straps to prevent any sliding out of it again. I wondered just what sort of comic public spectacle all this might be making. I had a quick glance about in all directions, but I didn’t think that anybody was looking at us anyway. After I had briefly returned to the hut to collect two large beach towels, we then made our way contentedly up to the shoreline, satisfied in the belief that the costume issue had been sorted. As it happened the tide was fairly close in, so we didn’t have far to go. Since we had left the door wide open and all our valuables were inside, we didn’t go more than about a hundred yards away. We kept our hut within sight, and we definitely didn’t go behind the dunes. We resolved that next time we would lock up and bring the keys in Laura’s shoulder bag or something, so that we could wander much further afield and feel secure. We would probably need to bring Tammy’s beach toys along as well.


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