when night falls

bournemouth at nightI’ve come by a 1967 visitor’s guide to Bournemouth.

The book promises a great many things happened in swinging Bournemouth when the sunshine shied.

Bingo, bowling, ballroom.  A blistering schedule of ‘pop’ artistes, revues, international wrestling, ice follies, aqua shows and a bewildering concept piece: “water burlesque”.

Whether this is burlesque of the raucous or racy variety, I am anxious that a big, muscular body of water isn’t something to hassle with a tassel.  Or crack a joke over.

The sea is terrifying.

And so is the night.

And so is bingo.

They are, all three of them, dark oceans of panic.

They invite you to follow their little glowing will-o’-the-wisps —  bioluminescing esca, stuttering neon signs, the water-based blooms of a Bingo dabber — through a thick curtain of salty smells and damp anoraks.  Until, eventually, you descend into their perfect silence.

It is the heavy silence of the long drowned, the fast asleep and the audio-linked bingo hall.  Every breath you take rolls like thunder.  The caller tuts over the mic, announcing to the room that the newcomer might like to count inside her head.

Ok, so maybe I’m more afraid of bingo.

But, for Lit Up! and the Tailored Tales commission I am facing my fears.  I am spending some time washing myself in the saturated colours of an old tourist guide to piece together a short fiction for the young readers of Hamworthy Library I wrote about in my last post.  The Book Stormers delivered a brief for a tale woven with riddles, myth, animals, the fantastical and the futuristic.

Bournemouth, the guide says, “assumes a new mantle – a bewitching one” at night.  For now, I think, then, that’s where I’ll begin.

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