This week’s column is by Helen Pine. And there’s more to come from Helen in the coming weeks, too...
The women coming towards me on the beach looked like an ad for Barbour. Immaculate mac, hat and wellies. How do they keep them so clean?
Or perhaps they just lob them in the bin when they get a bit mucky, like Elvis replacing his car when the ashtray was full.
They looked odd in the windswept dunes with their tidy hair and lipstick. Walking dogs, they showed no awareness of the fragile land which arouses such passion in those who live here. I smiled as I passed them and my dog, Jack, rolled over for their Alpha males.
I’d gone 20 yards further along the boardwalk, built to protect the dunes, when right bang, smack in the middle of the path was a huge pile of still-steaming doggy doo. My pet hate.
I pasted on a smile and turned around. One of the women was on the phone. The other was shrieking at Sebastian to lay off licking Jack’s nether regions.
“Excuse me,” I called sweetly. “Would you like to borrow a poo bag? There’s a bin just up ahead of you.”
The Shrieking Lady stopped in mid squeal and froze. Her friend muttered into the mobile without taking her eyes off me, hung up and slowly slid it into her pocket. I thought they might put up their hands. I glanced down to check that I was, in fact, waving a small plastic bag at them and hadn’t accidentally pulled a Colt 45 from my anorak.
One of them held out a beautifully – fortunately – gloved hand and took the bag. I wanted to say, “Was that so hard?” but I made do with “It’s so terribly pretty around here, don’t you think?” and walked on, wondering why I felt the need to toff up my vocab.
I wonder all sorts on these morning walks. I wonder whether I could be a foster mum, whether Elvis really did that thing with the ashtrays and how best to help my littlest learn her tables.
It’s precious time, in a place that means a lot to me (I wonder if I should scatter my ashes here?) so it rankles when people stride through it and leave mounds of poo behind them.
I’d barely gone another 20 yards when there it was again. Another seriously big pile. Same sort, if you know what I mean.
I turned to where the women were still standing, watching me as though I was some kind of weirdo. My silly grin reappeared and out came another poo bag but I just didn’t have the balls to go through the whole process again.
“Not to worry,” I called in the same silly, plummy voice, waving my little bag. “I’ll get this one.”
And off I tootled, in the opposite direction, away from the poo bin, stuck with carrying the smelly bag myself.
I wonder if I’ll ever learn to keep my big mouth shut.