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  Aerial view of Carcans Plage S.W. France


You got a 70 percent discount
off chalet 42 (could it be 10 square metres?)
in 33°C heat, with no fan, no kettle,
two kids, one mother, one boyfriend (58),
thousands of cicadas and other assorted insects –
mostly mosquitoes – and millions of pinecones.
Still, this is the Atlantic coast, not Eastbourne.
You haven’t fallen out with Mum yet, though as usual
she’s finding you fastidious.
He's the only person on the beach wearing shoes and socks,
and he’s out of cigarettes.
You didn't put factor 50 on your stomach.
It looks like you cuddled a jellyfish.
But you remembered the pareo and the beach umbrellas
and you can amuse yourself people-watching,
musing just how different women’s breasts are,
from gleaming bronze glands to pendulous shrinking fruit.
The leaky radiator and that clunk in the suspension
can be ignored a little longer.
Next time you're asked to play bat and ball you will –
and you will enjoy it.
First you're going to shake out your towel again,
mould your body into that inviting sand,
lie on your front and stop fretting that the kids are drowning –
they’re between the blue flags and anyway there are lifeguards.
He’ll probably overheat again tonight but so be it.
He just told you there are more stars in the universe
than grains of sand on all the beaches in the world
and you felt happy even though you knew that.
One child engrossed in building piles of shimmering stones.
Another riding the waves on his new body-board.
There is nothing to worry about.
Unless he gets anaphylactic shock and forgot his adrenaline.
Do I inject it in his thigh? Pistachio. Cellulite. Tsunami.
Why can't I tie my pareo like that?
Why can't I relax? Isn't 42 the answer to everything?