postcard from Autotelia

by uzwi

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.