Somewhere deep inside this structure of iron and timber that thrusts itself outward into the waves and surf, lies a treasure trove of memories, some slipping away in to the silent depths and others stretching over the noisy shingle on the beach.
My first memory, a thirteen year old boy on a first nervous date with a girl I hardly knew, and now a memory that waxes and wanes with the tide. Her face lost somewhere in a fog over the coast and our childish conversation dashed amongst a stormy sea crashing at the iron legs below, only the slip of a memory that she has probably forgotten clings forlornly to the rusty barnacles that remain silent and unmoved under a slate grey sky. A return in my twenties, to friends and lovers all too frequent and over too soon like the lightning storms that would shake the foundations of this Victoria relic.
Here a memory of an affair that should have died with the final sigh of the tide, which rolls away to leave everything exposed, waiting for the creeping fingers of night to cover its shame. The night though brings out the lights and the illuminating moon and feeds a lust for life and a thirst for a thrill, and the affair continues amongst the complicated shadows of girders, legs and stanchions.
A friend, the calmness in a storm, lost like me standing looking out to sea from the farthest tip waiting for our future to arrive on a wave, separate islands on the same continental shift, gripping salty railings and rolling away falling tears and waiting for the sound of the raging surf to lay down its hammering tools in our heads. We walk the length of our wooden frame slowly and quietly knowing the future will break our friendship, like the breakers part the waves and only the lonely shrill of a trailing gull might remember our moment together. A walk with someone alone, lost in their thoughts and oblivious to me, their chaperone, for the hour land on the place of my memories but no comfort to them and no feel for the history under their feet. Our connection unimportant, and loosely defined we pass moments of time together but apart in our thoughts. The shape and form of this platform to the sea our only witness to this sad play until we drift from this moment and leave as if we never happened.
My final memory of the white paint glistening from the sun sees me waving goodbye on a cloudless day. Waving goodbye to the South coast and the memories folded underneath the Downs and the life that I had within the crumbling chalk and the sand. The loves I lost and the friends I knew now just the flotsam on the beach ready to be collected by the next tide and clawed away to a past that only I remember. And here I stand on the one permanent fixture of my life silent and strong and bid it farewell. Alongside me, an angel I met one night when the storms were at its height, and now she leads me away to the future I once waited for.
I don’t look back because it’s there in my thoughts an image of permanence, strength and defiance a platform to the sea and a viewpoint of my life within the iron and timber that stands tall on the Sussex shore.