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Marie with Barney, me with beach first-timer Lilley and Millie with Daisy Dachshund

The Three Amigos

Love this shot.

We took loads and loads of shots. I carried the tripod slung across shoulder trying and failing for a David Bailey look, as we traipsed across very soft sand. Once or twice we sank.

Finally, days later, we reached the tideline. I erected the tripod and camera. Set the timer, press the button. Peep, peep , peep …

‘Get in position- GET IN POSITION- NOW’

For some unknown reason Marie managed to be out of position more times than she was in it. But when she was in it, my word, she made it look effortless.

Three little dogs that were each adamant they must play fight. Unfortunately, Lilley was their main target. She asks for it, if I’m honest. I swear she’s forgotten she’s a dog. Barney, the white one, had no idea why anything but turns out that is Barney’s default position. ‘No idea why'. Daisy Dachshund looks permanently worried. Lilley remained baffled all the way through the entire process and still is. She’s affected.

It was Skegness beach and it was cold, windy, but so beautifully sunny we were blinded by the light.

It was just fabulous. Don’t ever knock Eastern England beaches. The Wash. The North Sea…

Wild, windy, empty, big of everything - sky, sea, horizon, sand, tides. On a clear day we can see the North Norfolk coastline.

It’s been so long since I was there. God, I miss it. If it hadn’t been so darned cold I reckon I’d have sat there ‘til sunset. Staring out to sea…

But, we had photos to take, positions to assume, casual as **** Smiling at camera? Not us. Nothing so banal…

‘Do something’ somebody shouted. ‘What?’ Click. Too late.

'Stand in the sea'.


'You'. Me, that's right. The elderly person - go stand in the below freezing, tidal, mighty waves. Visions of an appearance on BBC1's Saving Lives At Sea flashed past so I declined the kind offer.

And yet, against all odds, these photos look good. I say it myself.

Care of a mighty backdrop.

After the shoot and another hike uphill across the soft, sinking sands, we sat at the outdoor cafe with warming mugs of tea. Sun was setting. It was beyond freezing. I hung on to Lilley for warmth. Her little body was warmer than mine. But we just wanted to prolong the magic. For that is what it was…

Eventually, we said goodbyes and went our separate ways. If I hadn’t been so darned cold I might have shed a tear. Suddenly I didn’t want to go back to being alone.

That’s when you realise how much you tolerate when left with no choice. But here’s the thing (and, by the way, reminds me why I no longer join groups or clubs - it’s other old people. Surely I’ve got enough putting up with me?) tolerating isn’t good enough is it? I haven’t worked my butt off, lived through every emotion three ways backwards to tolerate life. Being thankful. What for - that I'm still hanging on at 72? Sod that.

We are not second best, last in the queue because we’re awocs. We have a right. To love our lives. To mix with all ages, young as well as old, like grandparents are able to (if and when 'all ages' concur) because younger folk make us feel younger, for a while. If safeguarding is the problem then find a solution, authorities. Younger people need us- we need them. At the moment ne’er the twain shall meet. Unless, of course, you are a grandparent. Then it's different. Is it me but did mixing of generations not used to happen? You know, back in 1906 or whenever I was a child. Once again, grandparents luck out because they have the young families. We are never going to achieve that familial status so we don't, basically. They might as well say - 'do without, stay mixing with other oldies. Keep away from Youngers because you don't have the experience like what the grandparents do. And, by the way, get a DBS'. Anybody thought about that particular piece of intolerant and discriminatory slop?

Make it easy, cheap, accessible to get a DBS, then.

Phew. Sit down, you silly old fool. Sweating now…

'I said it'.

Somebody just did something that's for sure.

Anyway before I go, another thing I wanted to say was this:

To Marie and Millie and their family - thank you. Thank you for making all of our outings fun, loving, caring, interesting, inclusive. All I hope is that I’m giving back as much as you give me. Because all awocs should have a ‘Marie and Millie’ somewhere in their life. Millie, at 13, is an extraordinary, beautiful young woman and a credit to her parents. It's an honour to know her. Can you see where I’m coming from with my community talk? I’ve known (and worked with) Marie for many years so she knows me very well. However, I fully realise the formalities involved in joining up communities. But, unless I’ve got it very wrong and therefore deluding myself, everyone wins from the arrangement. Make it easier for authorities to obtain necessary formalities.

Make it community driven, community led, community safe. Make it a 'Marie and Millie' community - available for AWOCs everywhere.



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