I sit on the bench, placed on a small area of green in an otherwise stony promenade, vain attempts at the mimicry of a Cote D'Colour otherwise doomed to failure by climate and psyche. But my bench, and it's small patch of natural green evoke the smells of my youth; cut grass, wind-borne salt, burgers.
Before me, a small-yacht marina. Row upon row of retirement fund dreams, weekend delusions of Kontiki or Captain Cook, whilst belowdecks the thoughts are more of Harvey Niki and Captain Bligh.
The wind stirs my grass and with it the furled rigging, metal implements that exist beyond my knowledge of name or purpose, striking the aluminium masts, creating an anvil chorus of a thousand effeminate dwarfish smiths.
The seafront is dead. Despite the sun sinking low in the sky in a denial of the stereotyped weather I had been promised, only a smattering of pattering trainer-clad feet pass my patch, theirs owners lost in the intricacies of music from distant shores, denying the cultural heritage proclaimed from every road sign.
In the distance, a clock tower lends it sonorous chimes to the dwarfs, a counterpoint and gentle admonishment, a teacher gently demonstrating without discouraging: then the moment is past and the Dwarfs continue their discordant song, but more quietly now, as they realise that only I and the small black dog are their audience, the former with no ear for their music, the latter's perhaps keen enough to hear their subtleties, or too polite to criticise by walking away.
My shadow lengthens, pointing the way back to my beautiful, luxurious, soulless and oh-so-lonely hotel, reminding me that a reverie can only ever be an interlude. An interlude now ended by youths in hats that, unaccountably, make me angry. Is this the sum of what I have become? A man who gets angry at hats?
The Sun continues to shine, but it's capacity to heat has long past, like an elderly body-builder, it is merely going through the motions, oblivious to the quiet scorn of the audience. It is time to return, to leave my patch and face my evening. Will I carry the memory of this patch with me, or will it fade like so much else, leaving just the distant sound of tiny anvils and the disdain of the small black dog?
Travel, they tell me, broadens the mind. New sights, sounds, sensations. But alone, they almost feel like a critique. Home is not wherever you lay your hat, but where it doesn't make you angry.