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“The Seafront”

It’s dusk and the promenade is rain-licked and grey. The flat expanse of concrete curls clean along the lip of the sea, which is punching great cold fists of water against it in a frenzy of February cold.

Down along the seafront at intermittent intervals the concrete dips down to face the sea; a moment for boats departing or waves arriving. There, the fist of the sea claws at the incline like it would smash it to shingle and drag it under.

And there, standing perfectly still, just against the sea, are a couple; ramrod straight. He is arms crossed and bespectacled. She is small and domestic; a biscuit-baking denizen of the middle-class kitchen.

And there, just where the waves claw over the wall and send flumes of foam and saline in an ejaculate of Neptune’s frustration fast towards them, are their children. He is about five and his sister, her hair a tangle of cold salt and seaweed, about eight.

They are facing the waves and every time one catches the declining wall to rear up its frothy head, it drenches them; violent and chill viridian. They are braced against the wall and welcoming each assault of the ocean with glee; elemental, dancing in joy and freezing cold against the grey sky.

Their father turns fractionally towards me and inclines his head very gently, expressionless. His posture is grave, his rationality impeccable and gravity irreproachable. Just the faintest of grins twisting at the corner of his mouth betrays that inside he’s laughing; he’s laughing fit to burst.


For more delightful stuff like this – and a lot that’s completely different – skip over and have a look at Jamblichus – an intriguing if unlikely mix of beautifully observed daily life, boxing, poetry, internationalism and well-informed commentary on Korean politics.

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