Monday, August 06, 2007

Hayling Island

It was the click I really liked. The guy was caning his Yamaha 750 along the hot and dusty road, misleadingly called Sea Front. He would languidly spin it round at the traffic lights, then gun the throttle. As he roared past me he shifted up - there, that click from the gear-change mechanism. He hit the brakes, spun the bike and did it all over again in the opposite direction. Occasionally a family car would trundle along, which he would treat with contempt, whizzing around it as if it were stationary.

Sun-blasted, I was walking along behind two skinheads. Wearing just shorts and boots, their pale legs and pasty upper bodies would have been ridiculous in other circumstances. I ambled along, chewing gum, trying to look hard. I wished my hair was shorter.

Reaching the pub, I noticed the big screen and asked the barmaid. “You showing the match this afternoon?” “No, it’s on Sky. You could see it at the West Ham.” “Where’s that then?” “Just across the park.”

I walked up and down Sea Front. A hundred yards back Mr Moto was still cranking it up, backwards and forwards. No park, just a road called Stamford Avenue. Well, a bit London then.

I retraced my steps to the beach. You can’t actually see the sea until you get there, if you see what I mean. Some grass scrubland then the ground rises as a kind of natural sea wall, about twenty feet, and then you’re at the top, looking down at stepped shingle towards the waves. Through the distant mist, that low-hanging dark smear of cloud reveals itself as the Isle-of-Wight.

I, of course, had less than zero interest in Chelsea vs. Manchester Utd, but Adrian and Alex wanted to watch. I gave them what information I had and a little later they departed to find the “West Ham”.

What kind of dialect can make “Town” sound like “Ham”?