Written Work

Piers Were Invented To Save Us From The Beach

If there is a group of people on this planet completely unequipped for coping with the strains of British climate, it’s the Brits themselves. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Climate, we can cope with: it’s the weather that catches us out. In my opinion, it’s the summer months that cause the most problems. We are so unaccustomed to temperatures above fifteen degrees Celsius – the mere sight of a blue sky sends us into a frenzied fit of barbecue-ing and panic-buying sun cream.

The natural progression after a mere three days of sunshine is a day out. Inevitably – be it family member, friend or colleague, someone will make the mistake of uttering the phrase “what about the beach?” This is a risk. You panic. After all, if it rains, there is no way out, nowhere to hide. And what if it’s too hot? Your vitamin D-deficient skin can only cope with so much, after all. But your friends all seem far too cosmopolitan for you, and it’s down to Worthing Beach you go.

You over-pack. Buckets, spades, towels, raincoats and emergency sandwiches are all sorted meticulously into your favourite ‘I heart Sunny Worthing’ tote bag, and you’re ready to lie back on the sand; perhaps even looking forward to building some kind of sand construction – maybe a sand umbrella. You’ve forgotten in your excitement that attrition is still working its magic here in the South-East. There are now stones in unmentionable places, chalk stains smothering your much-loved tote, and the sky has turned an HB-grey.

Just as you are about to lose hope, something catches your eye. You try to casually amble East, but you trip over the stone ridges, and end up running uphill and getting nowhere. Eventually you are saved by the wooden groyne, and you reach the promenade in a triumphant daze. Your hopes are confirmed and you see the pier jutting out into the sea – your knight in shining armour.

You see children experiencing it for the first time, treading so carefully over the wooden slats, as if terrified that one wrong move would have them slipping between the planks themselves. Soon you find yourself on your second ‘Flake 99’ (this one should be safe now that you’ve shielded yourself with the windbreak.) One change machine and you’ve lost all inhibitions, gambling away nearly all of your money on the grabber machine in the amusements, saving just enough for a plate of chips at the Southern Pavilion.

Things are acceptable on piers that one wouldn’t attempt anywhere else. I would thoroughly recommend enlisting an If-It’s-Not-On-Land-It-Doesn’t-Count mentality when trying any and all of the following: re-enacting scenes from the Titanic, accidentally catching your skirt in the wind and flashing your enormous pants to complete strangers, trying to eat non-conical food out of a newspaper cone, failing, and dropping it into the sea by mistake (I’m sure the French like scampi), and Morris Dancing.

Jenny Hirst

Tim HallWritten Work