BEN KEITH’S BLOG: They’s, You’s, Us’s and We’s
Oh Blog, what a fabulous weekend I’ve had with Belindabelle in Whitstable. The faultless menu at The Oyster House, a seafood-platter at Wheelers, a stroll along the quirky and disjointed sea walk of the front, the warm water of the estuary to flop back into after lunch. I’m addicted. I admit it. If you haven’t been, come and check out this shining little gem of a town.
Blog, the red mist descended yesterday. It comes so rarely to me but it fell upon my being. I came into contact with one of the ignorant people.
Do you remember the disaster some years ago (2004) when a huge group of Chinese illegal-immigrants were picking cockles for a gang-master, he forgot to come and collect them from the sands, and the tide came in and tragically drowned them all? When this came onto the news, it was far more than just a distant statistic of death. In the way that it found a group of people who had escaped together, for a better life, to live out their dreams in the ‘perfect’ western world, it was so much more cutting and cruel than a freak natural-disaster or train-crash.
What struck me about the event though, was the inhumanity and cold attitude shown buy ‘Us’, the ‘We’; People. How do you forget to collect a group of fellow human beings, working miles out on the sand, picking shellfish out of the salt, for a pittance in remuneration? The tide’s coming in. You know when it’s coming. There’s a timetable for Christ’s sake. But it wasn’t just that. The incident had happened. There was no way to reverse it. The people’s lives had gone. What cut me most though, was the sickening jokes and barbaric attitude that so many of the spoilt English people had towards the event. In the sounds they made, coming out of the holes in the front of their alcohol and nicotine worn faces, were pure examples of the worst side of human ignorance and lack of compassion for others.
Before us, lay a wide, round, blue glass plate. A quarter of an hour earlier, a vast array of seafood had lain upon it. I had, in my usual style, managed to eat about 2/3 of the shared portion, and my belly was announcing to the rest of my body that an afternoon of relaxation should lie ahead. In Wheelers, like the bar at English’s, they serve you at the counter. At the same time though, in Wheelers, customers are invited to come and go, purchasing small portions of shellfish to take away. To my right, at the front of the take-away queue, an individual had reached the front, awaiting his turn in line.
‘Smawl ba-ug uh cohckles, pleez’. Was the first sound that emanated from his ‘Ah nah mah rahts’ type of voice.
The counter-hand girl turned and filled a plastic carton for him. Passed it over to the customer, and responded:
He handed the money over, in coins, then looked right at her, starting a dark chuckle to himself, and offered as a parting charm:
‘Let’s hope they didn’t miss the tide this time.’
He turned to leave.
Oh, Blog. Oh, Blog. It’s coming. That feeling that comes so rarely, you block it out, and make yourself forget it.
There’s a knife, it looks like some kind of meat-cleaver, the other side of the counter. The girl working must use it for a task like cutting up the role-mops or smoked-herring. It’s pristine clean, but has a greying, expert age to it. I wonder if it, as it has gutted so many fish over the years, would cut through his rib-cage and remove his ignorance with similar ease?
Its the ‘Theys’ again, isn’t it, Blog? That group that so many people don’t seem to recognise. The small-minded think that the ‘Theys’ are some kind of anonymous faction, living amongst us, as a lower-order but secret cult, identifying themselves to each other only by the use of Masonic handshakes.
Around London I’ve seen a bus with ‘Duck Tours’ painted across it. It collects people, gives them a guided look at London, then metamorphosis’s itself into a boat, and immerses itself into the Thames, to complete its journey, travelling along the river.
I think I need to borrow that guy’s bus.
I think I need to collect the man from Wheelers, with his family.
I think I need to bring him on a special tour, and introduce him to the ‘Theys’.
The Cockle-Picker tragedy was in Morecambe Bay. Let’s drive up there. On the way, on the motorway, I will point out some places where there were pile-ups. I’ll say ‘THEY died there.’. ‘Five of THEM’. Things like that. I’ll let out a little cackle. They’ll think I’m weird. That’s fine.
When we get to the beach, I’ll press the magic button, and sail the coach out to the sands. Timing it nicely. When we get there, we can look out at the water. To feel as small and meaningless against its omnipotent power, as we are. Then when I start to get bored, I’ll press another button. And the back of the bus will lift up and slide the guests, like the remnants of an unwanted fried egg, onto the sand-plain, as if they were the slime of the egg slipping off a plate into a bin-bag.
The engine of my bus is back on, revving into gear. I’m moving forward and my doors are locked. I wonder of you think it’s funny now? I wonder if you’re letting out a cynical chuckle to yourself? I wonder if you still think it was okay to laugh at the Chinese immigrants, desperately trying to make a better life, because you’re such a special and spoilt English whitey, and you think you have the divine right to laugh at others? When you were a kid, you took the piss out of the down-syndrome children in the park, didn’t you? ‘Them’. I wonder if you thinks it’s fair that no-one is here to help you, you spoilt white English, with your constant self-inflicted afflictions and attitude of self-entitlement? As the waves cover you like you are dust, and you drown slowly and helplessly, with your family around you, I wonder if you’re finding out who the ‘Theys’ are now? But, oh no, the ‘Theys’ and the ‘Us’s’ are all the same. Oh fuck – didn’t you know? At long last, it’s your go. It’s just your turn to now be a ‘They’. As I sail slowly and steadily away, waving back, you’re finding out that life is really about the ‘We’s’. I really do hope you appreciate this enlightenment during your final moments.
In other news:
Here’s an interesting fact I bet you didn’t know, Blog…
My favourite actor has got to be Albert Finney.
I was reliably informed recently that Finney’s dad was an independent greyhound on-course bookmaker, in the north of England.
He was spotted by the great William Hill as having real talent and employed as their on-course representative, to bet for Hills at the races. Small world, isn’t it?
Agent Y took me recently, for a fantastic birthday dinner, at Patara, off Regent Street. Blog, 10. This scores a clear 10. A faultless Thai meal was served, and from the Satay starters, through to the Massaman curry, and then quirky desserts, this place is a must visit. Don’t miss the Pad Thai.