This month our new coastal columnist MARTIN DOREY has been wondering how to make a start.
Hello! Thanks for reading this. It’s nice of you to take a punt. When Andy Cooper, the editor of Coast, rang me up and offered me this column in this magazine, I said yes immediately, almost bit his arm off with excitement and was halfway to my laptop before I had stopped to think about what I’d write. Once I had put the phone down, it dawned on me the pressure I’d just agreed to put myself under. Be interesting. Be entertaining.
I sat down to write. I started at the top, as you do, with a few ideas for a natty title that I thought Coast magazine readers might like.
‘A Life on the Waves’ got thrown out first. Yes, so I am a surfer, and have been for all of my adult life. But come on! That’s a yawn-a-geddo, right? Besides, sometimes it’s too cold to surf. I will admit that.
Next it was ‘A Cornish Lad’. For a start it isn’t true. I know Coast loves Cornwall but I am not Cornish. Yes, so I wear shorts in February but I will never be proper Cornish. Besides, I like my scones cream on first, the Devon way. That’s heresy round here.
Another one died a death before the ink was dry: ‘Bimblings on the Beach’. It sounded like a dull day in Frinton-on-Sea. Andy said he wanted quirky, interesting, controversial even. It ain’t Frinton, mate, that I CAN tell you.
It wasn’t going well. I went for a walk on the beach to clear my head. When I got there I started to walk along the strandline. It only took about 30 seconds for me to become apoplectic. Multicoloured microplastics, left by the last wave at high tide, drew a line along the top of the beach. There must have been a million tiny pieces.
I have been beach cleaning for a long time now – I was the determined, angry bloke who started the #2minutebeachclean thing on social media – and I still find it drives me crazy. If it’s not waste from the fishing industry, it’s escaped raw material plastics from manufacturing or biobeads, the substrate from sewerage works. Sometimes it’s washed up cargo and sometimes – grimmest of all – it’s panty liners and wet wipes. All of it – even the wet wipes and panty liners – in case you didn’t know, is plastic.
I picked up a handful to make myself feel better – it’s amazing how cathartic it can be – and trudged off up the beach, thinking. Just as an idea for this column was forming in my mind, my phone beeped in my pocket. It was an alert to say that a combined sewer overflow was spilling raw sewage into the sea near here.
“And there’s another thing…” I thought to myself.
Martin Dorey is a writer, campervan traveller, surfer and environmentalist. He lives in Bude in North Cornwall with his partner, Dr Seaweed, and a collection of bikes and boards. Find him on Twitter @campervanliving or Instagram @martindorey. Don’t look for him on Tik Tok.