To celebrate the publication of Where? Simon Moreton asked a group of writers and artists to contribute new work on the theme of Grief, Place, Landscape. Today, it’s the turn of Maxim Peter Griffin.
The front – Mablethorpe – April – she’ll not see another summer – no matter eh, wheels keep turning – that sting of salt and wind, a supertanker that waits on the tide, hitting Immingham before dark – all the buoys will glow.
She’d been born the day Paulus surrendered, that’s how her old man described it – 78, not terrible, just an ordinary age to, well – gulls coming in, low – the scooter buzzes forward – sandblasted sticky tape flicking about off the railings, end of a Christmas wreath, a cluster of withered daffs – the café up the end is open, takeaway only – she trundles on, pulls up in the shadow of a chalet – just out of the wind enough – a tin of rollies the girl who comes to help made up yesterday – click – click click – inhale – better – a jogger jogs by all in bright sports clobber – he tuts under his breath as she exhales – a black dog on the sand.
They’d moved here in the 90s – cashed in and moved out east – he got a caravan – property was cheap – you could buy a bungalow under the sea wall for buttons – she used to bring the kids here – they used to go up Jackson’s and pour coppers in the slots then have egg and chips at the Mermaid – postcard stuff, they were good weeks – the cheerful efficiency of a North Sea holiday.
There’s a slate grey sky out there – cloud masses, sudden bolts of sun – she inhales – a small dog is walked on a long lead by a couple she doesn’t recognise – there’s a bloke on the sand with a metal detector and a couple with a toddler making tiny steps – she’s happy to see they tried again.
On a bit – someone painting a chalet door frame – bright gloss on salt burnt pine – two carers with an older man, Downs Syndrome, heading to the café – regulars – alright duck? Morning Greg – he can’t have bacon any more so they fix him scramble egg and tomato sauce in a bap – She sees them most mornings – on a bit – someone has drawn a cock and balls on the information board – something about fossil trees and mammoths – She’d seen them years ago, with the kids – black stumps at low tide, some fella taking pictures for the museum – and soon enough her children will scatter her ashes there, down in the root mass of a forest under the sea – it’ll do nicely.
A concrete shelter that doesn’t keep the elements out – she pulls in – a few spits of rain.
An airliner passes overhead, baring towards Europe – she pops another rollie from the tin – there are starlings across the concrete that take off as she lights up. Someone unseen, whistling.
The sand glitters – a jackdaw struts – there’s a red ship in the distance – no one about, the joggers have retreated – turbines across the horizon – it’s alright – she exhales.
Maxim Peter Griffin is an artist, writer and night shifter. He lives quietly, below the jaws of Humber. Follow him on twitter here.
Books on the horizon include:
These Towers Will One Day Slip into the Sea (with Gary Budden )
Field Notes ( Unbound 2022 )
Mother Sky : Devil Choirs at the Gates of Heaven
Where? by Simon Moreton is out now. A memoir that combines prose, illustration, photos, archival texts, and more, Where? weaves a story that slips and slides in time and geography, creating connections across geographies, histories, families, times, and circumstance.
Where? is available from the Little Toller website, and from bookshops everywhere, including Little Toller’s own, in Beaminster, Dorset.