December 30th, 2020

Free To Roam

Ever since Kent and Sussex were put in separate tiers we've been very "good" about not crossing the county border- even though it passes quite close to where we live and is only a line on a map- but now that the whole of the South East is in tier 4 we feel free to roam. Yesterday we visited our favourite farm shop, then carried on down the A21 to Hastings- where we ate our picnic lunch under the cliffs in the car park at the end of Rock-a-nore road, looking out to sea while some ever hopeful gulls came and perched on the bonnet and looked in at us through the windscreen.

I'm very fond of gulls. I love the way they talk. I love their little knobbly knees.

Hastings didn't look much like a town in tier 4. There were plenty of people on the streets. The food shops were all open, of course, and if the food shops are open (as they have to be) I don't see that very much is gained by shutting down the others. It just puts money in Jeff Bezos's already bulging pockets. Sometimes- in my more alternative moments- I wonder whether that isn't exactly the point.

Dunkirk (2017)

We never see the face of the enemy- except at the very end where in a blur of grey overcoats and poking rifles they close in on one of the principal characters and make him their prisoner. Otherwise we see the enemy's flying machines bearing down on us and experience his presence as gunfire coming from locations we can't exactly pin down.

Almost the first thing Tommy does (he's the boy soldier we'll be following in his desperate and sometimes not strictly ethical attempts to get off the beach) is panic under fire and lose his rifle.

The beach is vast, the sea is vast, the sky is vast.

All these arenas of conflict are very lonely places to be.

Alliances are formed, briefly, seemingly at random. Expediency rules. Under the circumstances it's hard to blame anyone for behaving badly- as they do. But they behave admirably too. Some of them.

Arriving home, the soldiers expect to be spat at on the streets. Instead they find that politicians and the media have spun their abject defeat into a kind of victory. Which it is... of a a manner of speaking. "Well done" says the man on the dock who is handing out tea and jam butties. "What for?" says the squaddie. "All we did was survive." "That's good enough" says the man on the dock.

And the weekend sailor who has brought home a bunch of men in his pleasure cruiser, had a teenage member of his crew killed, and seen men fry in burning oil, puts his civilian hat back on and slopes off into the crowd...