A Cuppy Tea By The Sea
A Cuppy Tea By The Sea
I sit by the sea,
Wave aged, salt-stained.
Talking to the pebbles,
Each a long time friend.
The spray coats me
With memories of childhood days.
Eyes glued to the blue horizon
Dad's games to pass the time
'How many red or green cars can you
Count in the next 10 minutes?'
Pavarotti and Domingo on the cassette
Player followed by The Goons.
'Are we nearly there yet?'
'I can see the sea!'
I pick up a palm sized pebble,
It's smoothed, polished, mirror-grey;
A window to so many summers spent
In the exact same spot.
The pier glittering with Penny Falls
Bells, whistles and robbed by the
One Arm Bandits. Pockets-full of nothing,
Except the happiness of holidays.
I squeeze the pebble close to my chest,
Remembering the giant embrace of
My Grandad. Ernest, warmth in every word,
The only bitter, a glass of beer he favoured.
The foam decorating his top lip,
Like the wave tops
A couple of minutes walk away.
I pick up another pebble, smaller, smoother
And hold it to my cheek.
It is isn't cold, but its warm glow
Reminds me of my Nana. Bessie,
A wee Scottish lassie from tha' Borders
But England lived, a home by the sea,
Accent forever Scots, never lost.
'Wud ye like a cuppy tea?'
I sense my Nana, smell her lavender scent
And feel the kindness in her never ending hugs.
I stand against the wind, summer cold.
Bracing, uplifting the seagull songs,
They caw, croak and screech.
Three gulls sitting on the cracked, weathered groyne.
'Hey, do you remember this one?' they sing to me.
The decades have passed, as have Nana and Grandad too
But the gulls sing the same song,
'Memories of Youth.'
I scatter the pebbles like the years,
Each making their own unique sound,
But together, a mass of sound and memories and time
Clattering into one.
It's July. My Grandad has passed, breathed his last
Breath of Sunshine Coast air,
Eastbourne filled lungs. 98 years.
I'm sure the sea air gave him 10 more to enjoy.
I walk the promenade, hand in hand with Nana and Grandad,
Invisible to all, but I see them.
I wrap my hands around theirs.
We stop for ice cream, sit on a bench admiring
The flower carpet gardens, stroll some more.
Laughing at the Eastbourne ladies,
Deck chair sprawled, legs akimbo
Asleep in limbo, mouths agape.
'Catching flies' says Grandad.
'That'll be us one day, ye ken!' says Nana.
On the Bandstand we stand by the wall.
There's no band today. No marches from the past.
No hits of the Forties, no nostalgia.
But it's there. Nostalgia fills the sea air.
I lean over the wall, watching each wave set unfold and
Unwrap itself and launch against the Bandstand.
Nothing. Not like those long ago storms,
A high tide of crashing foam, wave after wave.
Running home with happy soaked faces and sodden clothes,
Shivering with delight after being soaked to skin by
Willing, mischievous waves.
The towel rough against the skin, warming.
As Nana brings a 'cuppy tea' and a mint chocolate Viscount.
'That'll teach you, won't it?' Nana says with a glint.
She knows it won't.
I'll soon be back at the
Face full of Spray and Sand.
I walk back along the prom,
Passing memories with every stride,
The boat trip to Beachy Head.
Mum looking greener than the sea
That tossed and swelled
Pitched and rolled,
Laughed and mocked.
'Never again.' And I never have.
One day perhaps.
I watch two young boys carefully selecting pebbles.
A game of generations. Throw them in,
Who can make the biggest splash, who
Can throw them the furthest, who can skim a pebble?
My brother and I. Always competing, always hoping
To defeat the other.
The end of games, as an errant pebble left my hand,
Hitting a little girl in the face.
I won't make the cricket team.
The seagulls stare. Do they remember me?
How long do seagulls live?
As long as Nana and Grandad?
I'd love to think so.
I turn away from the sea front,
Passing the familiar smell of
Fish n Chips, waitress service,
A smile and a 'What you having darling?
That was Grandad's favourite place.
Long after Nana left us to do her
'Last toilet inspection in the sky.'
They had better be spotless up in Heaven,
Or there'll be 'hell to pay.'
Fish n Chips on the breeze
White bread, butter, portion of mushy peas.
Chips dipped in red sauce,
Chipped mugs of well brewed tea,
Salt and vinegar, splashed over the plate
Waves of you and me, us, I recall the dates
Yesterday, yesteryear. Eastbourne days.
The 70's, the 80's. A boy who dreamed of
Summer holidays by the sea.
Yet, cries of 'I can see the sea' were always secondary
To 'I can see Nana and Grandad.'
And each time I stand and watch the waves
I can hear them.
'Come on then lad, better get home' Grandad says.
'Aye, yer'll be wantin' yer tea' Nana says.
'We cannae be late...the fidba's on in a bit.'
Nana loved her fidba.
Just a few minutes more I whisper to them.
Just let me stay here and sit,
I'll be home for ma cuppy tea in a wee bit.
On #NationalPoetryDay my new poem, A Cuppy Tea By The Sea.
Dedicated to my wonderful Nana and Grandad. Eating their lunch in the great Fish n Chip shop in the sky. Never forgotten, two kinder, lovelier people you could not hope to meet. I miss them very much. As I miss those wonderful summers staying with Nana and Grandad in Eastbourne, by the beach as a young boy.
Also dedicated to my Mum Donna L Frobisher wife Rni Dad Graham Frobisher brother Stuart Frobisher aunt Delyse Marsden and uncle Paul, cousins Martin, Stephen and Kirsty Marsden and to Louisa and Milla.xxxxxxxx.
Do not be sad they are no longer with you, be happy they were with you, for the love and happiness and memories made. And just close your eyes and listen to the sea and the wind. You'll hear them. They are always with you.