The Bluebell Abbey Guide to Being British: The Seaside

Posted on August 30 2018

The Bluebell Abbey Guide to Being British: The Seaside

The Bluebell Abbey Guide to Being British: The Seaside

Of all the things that fundamentally impact the British psyche – from milky tea, to disorderly queuing and people who presume everybody is from London, nothing is so strange and so powerful as the affect of direct sunlight. Expose a British person to UV rays for longer than thirty seconds and they will suddenly find themselves irresistibly compelled to sit in traffic for four hours as they make a slow but purposeful beeline for the seaside.


Once committed, nothing can stop them, least of all the actual weather, and pausing only to assemble a small picnic, a thermos of hot tea, a small inflatable unicorn, and seventeen layers of clothing, so that it might appear to the uninitiated more like an impromptu expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro, they will set off, bound for the nearest stretch of coastline.  


Once there, all worries in life fall away and nothing matters except walling off a small stretch of the beach with a windbreak and defending it to the death if necessary. From this impenetrable, acrylic fortress they will then sally forth to build a sandcastle, or dig a hole, or perhaps indulge in a spot of crabbing – a uniquely British pastime that involves renting a small plastic bucket and striving to catch inedible crustaceans by tying a piece of bacon (also brought from home) to a piece of string.


From there, the entire family will inevitably set out to explore the nearest seaside town, which fortunately for navigational purposes all look exactly the same – an intoxicating brew of ice cream parlours, fish and chip shops and souvenir stores selling rock – a small rolling pin of solid sugar that sends all who dare eat it into a saccharine-fuelled frenzy. Then, irresistibly, the entire family will be drawn like crabs to a slice of stale bacon, into the arcades to pour money into the penny slots, or use a grabby claw to win a prize worth significantly less than the £2,000 it costs to actually succeed.


Perhaps the most unusual aspect of British seaside behaviour however, is the lingering idea that being hit by bird droppings is somehow lucky – a myth propagated by parents to placate screaming children who suddenly find themselves covered in fast moving, air born guano ejected from a cholera inflicted seagull hopped up on fish and chips. Research is currently underway at several major British universities to discover how far from the water you need be before this event reverts to being a cause for morbid depression.


So devoted are the British to the seaside in fact, that not even the weather taking a turn for the worse, as it surely will, can stop them getting their money’s worth. Should it rain, hail, or they be unexpectedly subject to the twelve plagues of Ancient Egypt, the British will simply bear it stoically until the allotted home-time arrives, whilst clinging to the thermos of tea for warmth and thanking their mother’s foresight at packing twelve jumpers and a cagoule, before sitting in the same traffic jam in reverse as they make their way home - ready to do it all again the next time the sun fills the sky.

However on a good day, when the sand is as soft as demerara sugar, and you can’t tell where the sea ends and the sky begins so painfully blue are they both, you can’t help but feel that it might actually all be worth it.

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