Pebbles were a prominent feature of my childhood. We spent a lot of summers in Dunoon, back when we had proper summers, and not this sun-today-snow-tomorrow nonsense we get these days. We could plan to go to the beach the next day and know it would be sunny. Actually, it didn’t really matter if it rained. Well, you were going swimming anyway.
My dad could go in paddling. Could, but didn’t. In the 1960s, Scottish men saw no reason to remove their socks. Secondly, Dunoon beach was what my mother referred to as a “swimmer’s beach”.
The steep slope was a joy for those who loved to surge into water deep enough to crack out our Australian crawl, but a nightmare for the casual paddler.
Careful eyes had to be kept on unwary toddlers, least they slid on the pebbles and vanished beneath the waves leaving just a jaunty sun hat on the surface.
It’s not as bad as it sounds. There were always legions of attentive grannies on hand to carry out any emergency tot-rescue, under the careful supervision of my pipe-smoking dad, who clearly saw himself as a sort of cardigan-sporting Baywatch lifeguard.
The water was always as clear as gin and as cold as the North Atlantic. We had a choice between hypothermia and sunburn. Dunoon beach was a pebble beach. Little, white roundish quartz chuckies, perfect for throwing into the sea during a late evening walk in the last of a stunning sunset. Flat, blue slaters, superb for skimming and counting the jumps.
Further up the beach, and too big to chuck, big, marbled sandstone and granite. In the summer they would soak up the sun. Nothing beats lounging on a blue and white towel marked Property of Bellshill Baths on a scorcher of a day with the heat of those flat, smooth rocks on your back. It’s a spa treatment today, y’know.
Of course, the seaside shops of Dunoon had trouble shifting those wee packets of paper flags that fluttered atop sandcastles from St Ives to St Andrews. Building a high-tide fortress in Dunoon required planning permission and a JCB. We felt no lack. Pebble beaches are much better than sand, any day. Sand just gets between your toes and sticks to your back.
Pebbles were recreational. They were relaxing. They were even decorative. When my old great auntie needed the front garden restocked with white quartz pebbles, off we went with a borrowed wheelbarrow and looted the beach for bounty.
Last week, at the garden centre, me and the Grumpy Yorkshireman were standing looking at bags of white, round, quartz pebbles. They’re about a tenner a pop.
Suddenly, from the Great Beyond, I heard my dad, gone these 30 odd years, incredulously bellow: “Folk these days buy pebbles?”
Heavyweight advice by nurse
The last time I fell into the clutches of the NHS, the nurse lady made a comment about my blood pressure and my weight. No surprise. In my head I’m a leggy thoroughbred but really I’m a pit pony.
I felt the comment was a bit harsh. For one thing, I was only there to get hay fever tablets. Secondly, the medical practitioner herself was clearly no slouch at clearing her plate. And several other people’s besides. She then lectured me on how to lose weight. She had loads of advice to give, because she wasn’t using any of it.
Last week I found myself in no fewer than four different coffee shops in the city. The waiting staff, cheery and attentive, were invariably tiny, skinny wee things.
Obviously, it’s a conscious recruitment decision. Some of these coffee joints are so small that only wispy little creatures can waft between the tables. They happily fling out sugar and fats like nobody’s business and the word ‘diet’ just makes them laugh.
The solution to Scotland’s obesity crisis is simple. Take it out of the hands of the NHS and hand it over to the coffee shop gals. Whatever they are doing, it works.
Polls made up in my opinion
WEEK three, general election. Why are we still talking about Ukip like it’s a thing? From what I can see, you’ve more chance of meeting Nessie than a Ukipper, but the BBC still asks their opinion like it matters.
Still no one has canvassed my opinion for a poll. I’m starting to think folk just sit in offices and make this stuff up.
Where has Theresa gone? She’s vanished. She’s probably mortified. That dinner party at Number 10? Worst episode ever of Come Dine With Me.
Fanfare gets my vote
My son voted for the very first time in the local elections. Perhaps we should do something to reward the first-time voter? I was thinking a glitter cannon and a marching band every time the maiden ballot is cast. Perhaps it would encourage the youngsters, who seem to be somewhat