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April 2019 Vol. 15 No. 1

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Jonathan McKeown


Once we manage to get the grouchy teenagers up and goad them into the car – we’re off. I put a song on – Tom Jones, If I Only Knew – and crank up the volume as we skirt the airport. It is one of a select few I only play when I’m feeling good, exuberant – on holidays, for instance, setting off on some promising adventure with the whole family captive in the car. I instantly transform into my Carpool Karaoke character and start singing along, busting some of my behind-the-wheel dance moves. In full swing I look across at my wife with super-cheesy rock god intensity and sing the chorus as if she were the only other person in the car. My look is met by that reliable expression of hers which I love, half-mocking, half-admiring. I check the rear view mirror: our ten-year-old, Tallulah, is smiling appreciatively – though probably about those delicious freshly baked muffins we get from the Pavilion kiosk on the promenade. (What kind will they be today?) Saffron – sixteen in two days – tries to resist my invincible super-power with her deadpan freeze-stare, trying to appear unaffected by my irresistible intensity. Jesse – seventeen, male – has his earbuds in. His mouth, hanging open slightly; he is looking obliviously out the window at aeroplanes on the tarmac. It’s hot, but hazy and slightly overcast. Yesterday the water was a deliciously chilly 17C.

dark chocolate and orange
a white sail
in the hazy offing

Sitting on the beach, watching the cluster of swimmers revelling between the flags, the thought crosses my mind that one day, in the perhaps not-too-distant future, all this will be a memory, a wistful yearning for a sort of encore ...

ocean breeze
gull prints
in the concrete