SUBWAYHer stepmother, P, lives in Ramsgate, but has caregiving responsibilities elsewhere, so she has not been home for a year. I’m here to check that the plants haven’t died, but she knows that’s not why I’m here. It’s because I love it. The regular reader will recall that I have been excluded from Wetherspoon’s, the most magnificent pub in Europe, but I still love the city. The intensity of the skies, the smell of whelks, the port that you think is so elegant (because it is), the neighborhood, so colorful, so cheerful; every morning is like the opening shot of a Disney musical and especially the arcades.
There has been a terrible role reversal in the family because of the confinement, worse than TJ, the boy, who is taller than me. Has become the manager of me Expectations. He spent the entire trip here explaining why the arcades weren’t open. “They are not essential on anyone’s terms. Even if you were addicted to gambling and 2p machines were like your methadone, that wouldn’t be essential. “
“How do you know about methadone?”
“Non-essential stores are open,” interjected H, female. She is much more of my mind. Everything you want to be open must be open, because that is how the universe works.
“Yes: a) you are right, they are essential, they are the sellers of dreams, and what could be more important? And b) the non-essential stores are also open, which is how we spent last week at H&M and everyone was yelling at me for calling him Hennes. “
“I’m just saying, don’t get your hopes up,” TJ said softly, but that ship had fully sailed. Our hopes were through the roof.
We arrived and I deactivated the burglar alarm, the only pin that I have never forgotten, thanks to the most intense discussion I have had or witnessed about an access code. My dad, who died in 2004, explained to all of us once, “You can remember it because it’s my date of birth, just two different digits,” and my sister said, “I have no idea what year you were born,” And my math brother said, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard; you could also say, ‘You can remember it because it has four numbers and two of them are not the same.”
Honestly, we went around like this for hours, turning into other territories: did you remember any of our years of birth? Who in the gene pool was the best at math? – until it was two in the morning, with the result that I have never forgotten it, while my brother would no doubt forget it on purpose. Who cares about your eardrums when they could be right?
We checked the indoor plants, which by some witchcraft were still alive. We marvel at the state of the place. Some people are born so orderly that they can bring order to a place even 60 miles away. Or maybe one of your neighbors has come in and dusted, while singing a song, assisted by starlings and squirrels. We’d better get going, I said, or we’d lose our gags. It was 5.32 pm. A neighbor was at the door waving and her eyes took on an evasive shadow. What did she know that I didn’t?
“Annie,” I said, point blank. “Are the arcades … not open?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never been to a game room. I am 71 years old. “
This seemed reasonable. But why did she look so cautious?
“We already missed the retching!” TJ was calling from within. “We should have gotten here in 2019.”
“Good,” said H. “Where is all my money? I’m going to need a lot of money. “
“You have no money, donut, you spent it all on lip gloss at Hennes.”
“OKAY, are he’s going to need a lot of money. “
One time, we spent £ 25 trying to win a treasure chest made of plastic, with plastic gold coins inside, retail value £ 1.99, maximum. Finally, the manager opened the case and gave it to us. He couldn’t bear to see more waste.
We sail along the wide and majestic boulevard to the beach, with the sea on one side, on the other artificial caves where generations of teenagers have engraved the names of all the people who have performed obscene acts over the years. (Really, if you tried to find out if Ross had slept with an eel, you’d realize that he probably didn’t.) We approached the street of pleasure, noticing who was open. Ice cream shop? Check. Bars named after maritime events? Check. The whelk stand, the seal-watching boat expedition, the seaside accessory dealer, selling sunscreen for a joke? Check, check, check. The signals were good at this point. I carefully watched my firstborn for signs that he might be thinking, “Maybe I’m wrong.” Say ah. No way.
We got to the game room. It wasn’t just closed. It was desolate: dust everywhere, Pikachus hanging lifeless from the ceiling as a warning. There wasn’t even a sign saying they had closed. It looked like Poundland Pompeii. I looked at my son, but he fulfills his “I told you so” silently. I like that on him.
Tomorrow we try Margate.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism