postcard from Autotelia

The whole of the beach is artificial, white sand trucked in from somewhere else to complete the ruler-straight concrete strip with its fringe of mostly ghastly hotels, lowrise apartment clusters & restaurants. It receives a lot of traffic in the early & late summer but the rest of the year it’s like this, empty, exhausted-looking & scattered with objects you can’t quite understand. If you walk round the point at the south end, though, you find a different kind of beach altogether–rocky, terraced, without beach umbrellas or tourists. You have left a sullen, humid day, with a sort of hidden light coming through the cloud, for sunlight & abrasive air. A brisk inshore wind drives the sea up over the tide pools, the water is a murky detergent of grey and green, & a huge bank of black weed has formed on the tideline. A few hundred yards behind the beach lies the town crematorium, a curious truncated cylinder decorated on the outside with a huge mural like a 1920s woodcut: dead people silhouetted by the invisible sun & weird perspectives of the afterlife. One warning: when they offer you “Tiny Fishes” in the beach cafes, they are not. For me, whitebait are tiny fishes. These fishes are three inches long. On the whole, they eat like whitebait; but tiny is a misnomer. “Quite small” would be better.

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Filed under fantasy, landscape

2 responses to “postcard from Autotelia

  1. Simon

    Reminds me very much of the ‘new beach’ at Barcelona. That said, being flung around by the five foot waves breaking on the trucked in sand was still a lot of fun. The sea doesn’t care.

  2. I had a photograph on my first mobile (A Nokia from about 2006. I was a very late adopter.) of a beach some notional miles up the coast from there. A ruined Carribean hotel spills its seed of furnishings and kitchen detritus onto the curving walkways that lead out to an artificial lagoon. Palms rise to the fifth and sixth storeys threatening to burst into fire in the scorching air.

    And the focal subject of the picture: a hybrid coupling of swivel chair and bucket chair. The seat of the bucket chair had been lost and its chassis had found a legless office chair. Its spindle coupled through its partner.

    The memory of the picture makes me want to whistle Astrud Gilberto. Tristes Tropiques.