Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Monday 28 November 2011

The tide is high (but the IQ's aren't)

...Here we go again!.

This time, we're off to JuliaM's stamping-ground of Southend for a startling tale of man vs nature.

We've mentioned here before that, despite our island nation status, there are still Britons who appear totally baffled by the fact that the sea goes up and down (see 'Roll on, thou grate and restless ocean').

One might, though, expect rather more awareness from those actually involved in seashore construction work...

Workers building flood defences on a beach were left red-faced after returning from a break to find their construction vehicles underwater.

They had parked their digger and nine-tonne dumper on the shore at Chalkwell in Southend, Essex but were caught out by a high spring tide.

As it happens, one of our favourite haunts is a beach further along the same coast, where maintenance work on the sea-wall and breakwaters must be done on a regular basis to prevent beach erosion and flooding.

The contractors we have observed there have it down to a fine art; during the spring tides, they arrive in force as the sea is receding, drive down the beach to work at full stretch throughout low tide and then retreat before the oncoming waves.

And here's the clever bit; those contractors are local chaps and, knowing that the lowest tides - which uncover a maximum area for them to work on - are also the highest ones, they remove their equipment completely from the beach until the next low tide.

So why should this lot have lost the plot so completely? Well, there's a clue at the end of the article (complete with authentic Daily Mail typo):

Council contractors North Cotts Civils were unavailable for comment.

Once you decipher it (with the help of the photos), it turns out that this coastal engineering was being carried out by North Notts Civils, based in - you've guessed it - the distinctly landlocked town of Nottingham.

Carried out under the aegis of Southend Council's Deputy Leader with responsibility for Regeneration and Enterprise (now there's a title to conjure with!), this has all the hallmarks of another triumph of competitive tendering over common sense.


  1. Yes, I know Notts well and the sea defence work is rather limited in scope. Local lad D H Lawrence never mentioned it once.

  2. :D

    I don't recall much maritime action in the tales of Robin Hood either, come to think of it.

  3. Funny things, tides, the way they go up and down like. Often twice a day.

  4. Indeed, JH.

    And all because of this, O my Best Beloved...



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