The Stone: Part One.

by | Apr 6, 2024 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

Like two gnarled hands, they presented the bay to the relentless waves like a gift.

I pulled Shimamoto into the small car park at the far side of my favourite beach, St Jean du Doigt. It was early so the place was deserted. I tried to imagine what it would be like in three month’s time; the height of summer.

A Renault Kangoo slid into the empty space to my right and an elderly couple got out. I say elderly, being around ten to fifteen years senior to my sixty-five. They took several minutes and a great deal of huffing and puffing to change into suitable footwear in which to walk. I recalled how close I was to that rigmarole of simply changing shoes and I shuddered.

The man was tall and gangly around six feet with an explosion of curly white hair. He wore round horn rimmed glasses of the type that are popular with French seniors. Dressed for the occasion, he sported beige and green outdoor clothing. His diminutive wife, also proud of her snowy locks, wore them in a stylish bob. The wind and the fine drizzle wasn’t doing the cut any favours but she didn’t seem to care.

Footwear exercises over, they closed the boot and headed down the concrete ramp to the beach. I took out my chilli bottle and scalded a tea bag with the hot water contained within. I unwrapped my tarte aux pommes, which the pretty young assistant had lovingly packed at the boulangerie. Gazing at the receding waves, I prepared for several minutes of vacant indulgence.

The perfect strip of buff sand was enclosed at either end by rocky promontaries. Like two gnarled hands, they presented the bay to the relentless waves like a gift.

Nevertheless, my self inflicted tea and cake induced trance was interrupted. Another vehicle pulled up to my immediate left despite the fact that the car park was empty. As the occupants decamped, and mimicked their predecessors’ dance of the shoes I realised I was in an ‘oldie sandwich’. At least they helped each other with their respective boots. They were the reverse of the first couple, he was at least a foot shorter than his partner. There were the remnants of a real beauty in the woman as she stood over her husband. Her hair was as red as blood and streaked with white like a barber’s pole. It wrapped around her elegant features in the wind.

What is it about folks who despite an empty car park insist on parking next to the only other vehicle occupying it? I pondered trying to lose myself back in the waves.

My sight returned to the original pair. I observed them disappearing around the outcrop to the right. The man was several of his lanky strides ahead of his partner. I took a bite from the crusty part of the tarte and accompanied it with a gulp of tea. At least this pleasure hadn’t been ruined.

Despite myself, I was now in people watching mode as I clocked the second couple walking in the footsteps of the first. At least they were hand in hand I said to myself, with a conflicting feeling of jealousy and comfort.

When the third pair glided silently in a silver Toyota Prius, into the next space along,  I all but abandoned my impromptu breakfast. The mesmerising effect of the Breton coast had gone, swallowed up with a third choreographed footwear routine. This one involved a great deal of hopping around from a short stout man while his wife sat inside the boot of the Prius laughing. If he falls there’s a broken hip right there in front of me, I thought, closing my eyes. Relief came as he finally tied the lace of his second walking boot. He simultaneously pulled a large beach towel and his giggling wife from the boot. 

I had a silent wager that they would toddle off in the direction of the other four octogenarians and quite soon cashed in. Abandoning my lukewarm tea and half eaten pastry, I decided to follow. I had never before been aware of what a pain it was to change into walking boots until my observations earlier. As I tottered sideways while tugging at the heel of the left boot with arthritic thumbs, I saw the future and it wasn’t good.

I set off down the ramp in pursuit of the six pensioners, at a safe distance, the final pair having disappeared from view. As I rounded the headland, the first couple almost flattened me as they skipped by like two children in a playground. Arm in arm they were dancing the Gay Gordon across the sand. Apart from their white hair, there was no evidence of age about them. Each had a youthful, almost sensual glow.

I received a cheerful “bonjour” in stereo and nodded, open mouthed as they danced down the bench to the sea. Turning towards my goal, I encountered the second duo, equally bouncy, in a lustful embrace behind a rock. They unclipped from each other just enough to acknowledge my presence, then carried on their squeeze akin two teenagers behind the bike sheds.

My mind was racing now as I anticipated an encounter with the portly man and his missus. What met my gaze as they came into view, shocked me.

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Childs



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