We went on our first outing, to the beach at Littlehampton, but I’m not sure it was as stress-relieving as it could have been. We kept getting into trouble with the two-metre-ites. These are the people who are using the two metre rule as an excuse to be damnably rude.
We packed a picnic and put the spaniels in the car with our beach mats and swimming things. We stopped at the filling station in Dorking to pump up a tyre and as the builder boyfriend saw to that, I went into the shop and got myself into trouble.
I picked out some goodies to add to our picnic — a giant punnet of strawberries and some pork pies. He loves a pork pie does the BB.
With this armful of items I headed for the counter. There was only one customer being served and so I planned to leave the requisite gap behind her and stand myself on the first dot painted on the floor. But as I made for it, a man covered in tattoos stormed into the filling station, swept in front of me and stood himself on the dot.
I looked over my shoulder and at that moment two more customers put themselves on the dot behind me. I suppose I could have hidden myself in an aisle or tried to find a place behind the people behind me, but there was a Costa coffee machine behind them.
In the confusion, I stood for a few seconds panicking about what to do. And the tattooed geezer turned and shouted at me: ‘BACK OFF!’ It was so mortifying I became even more incapable of sorting myself out.
I nearly burst into tears. I put the strawberries and pork pies down and left the shop trembling. I looked at the other customers and they shook their heads in sympathy.
When I got outside and told the BB what had happened, he looked around for the angry two-metre-ite with that protective look he has whenever a man does something ungallant to me. I love that about him, although I’m always glad when he can’t find the offender.
This one had scarpered. We went back in and found the strawberries and pork pies. Then we tried to forget about it as we set off for our favourite stretch of the south coast.
When we arrived at Climping beach the normally laid-back seafront had a new parking system in place. The chaps on the gate were very nice, though, and helpfully explained we must follow the steward and park two metres apart. ‘We’re shutting at five,’ they said, which we took to mean what it has always meant: that they shut the snack kiosk and leave one barrier up for everyone to make their way out.
We got our usual spot behind a breaker and the sea was creamy blue, the waves warm, with not too many people, just a few canoeists and the odd speed boat. Heaven.
The spaniels frolicked in the sea for hours, we ate our sandwiches and pork pies and the BB moaned bitterly about me feeding him ‘a load of old fruit’ when I produced the sweet, delicious strawberries. Still, he ate some, glugging them down with Fanta to disguise the taste.
The trouble came later, when we packed up the picnic at 4 p.m. and took the dogs for their customary walk along the beach as the tide went out.
To access the path behind the rocks we had to go through a gate, and here we paused as we saw a line of people coming the other way down the narrow opening. I stood behind the gate but the builder b held the gate open because the first person was a woman. Call him old-fashioned. He did what he felt was the polite thing.
The woman stopped dead in her tracks and looked daggers at him. He turned round and asked me what was going on. ‘Stand back behind the gate with me,’ I told him. ‘She doesn’t want to approach because when she gets to the gate there won’t be two metres between you and her as she goes through.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ he said, and dug his heels in. This was a mistake. The lady got angrier and angrier. ‘Stand away!’ I shouted at the BB, for I sensed a horrible confrontation coming.
He moved back and the lady approached. As she passed through the gate, the two-metre-ite looked at him like he was filth on her shoe. And she lashed him with the very words that would hurt him the most: ‘Your wife’s right!’ I could have slapped her face. We walked in silence, his wounded pride pulsating between us.
When we got back at 5.30 p.m. both barriers were down and we were locked in.
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