Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on a stony beach at a place called Tankerton on the North Kent coast. The sky was almost cloudless and you could see all the way across the estuary to Essex. I had taken my shoes and socks off and was letting the tiny waves break over my toes. I picked up stones and grooved over them. So pretty, so interesting, what with the spodgy patterns and the swirly patterns and the layers of colour and the glazes and- in the case of the flints- the glassy blackness at their core. After a while I got tired of admiring them and started shying them at a piece of floating driftwood. I don't think I ever hit it, but I came close and, as the little explosions rocked it, I imagined that it was a Napoleonic man o'war and I was a shore battery. Kersplosh! kersplosh!