by Rebecca Loxton
My Frenchman has come to England to Meet the Parents. “I’ll bet what he’d love,” says my mother, “is a trip to the seaside,” forgetting momentarily that his country is ringed by magnificent coast. It is true however that the Frenchman has not experienced the idiosyncrasies of an English beach.
My family and the Frenchman bundle into the car, double-check the Labrador is on board, and motor towards the southeastern edge of our island. Having sweetened the Frenchman with a custard-drenched Sticky Toffee Pudding at a nearby gastropub, we meander towards the water.
“Where is the sand?” says the Frenchman, looking perplexedly at the expanse of saltwater-polished pebbles before him. “This is a pebble beach, Alexandre,” my mother chirps politely. “Just smell that sea air!” My parents stride off across the beach, pebbles crunching beneath their sandals.
The water licks the shore and winks in the sun. As the sun emerges from its duvet of cloud, my sister and I jam straw hats on our heads, then place hands on heads to keep said hats from whipping into the wind (or “sea breeze” as my mother would say). The dog tiptoes around in the shallows, uncertain as to whether he appreciates the seaside and the sensation of soggy paws.
The Frenchman, on the other hand, seems quite content. He has produced his camera and is snapping arty pictures of sea and pebbles. “Ah, I am so lucky,” he says, gripping me by the waist in a half-hug. “Oh, really?” I peer up at him in what I hope is an apt imitation of Parisian coquettishness from beneath the brim of my hat, and await compliments. “Yes,” beams my Frenchman, squinting at the waves. “I am in England during the three days of the year when it is sunny.”
PHOTO: A pebble beach, Suffolk (U.K.), found at thebeachguide.co.uk.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece is about a recent trip to the Suffolk coast. It is an extract from a longer piece of prose fiction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in London, Rebecca Loxton read for a degree in French Literature at Oxford and now teaches English at the Sorbonne in Paris. She enjoys writing in her spare time but also whiles away many happy hours reading or wandering around art galleries.