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

Thursday 14 August 2014

'I must go down to the sea again, for the call of the running tide..

...is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied.'

Well, we expected this week's unusually high tides to bring some interesting examples of Man (and Woman) failing to grasp the fact that the sea goes up and down and we certainly weren't disappointed.

Coastguard and RNLI reports show a predictable host of unwary day-trippers managing to get cut off in a variety of scenic shoreline locations but special mention must go to the woman stranded at the old breakwater in Lyme Regis with her six children, potentially making somewhat belated amends for having contributed so generously to the gene pool.

Also worth noting are the two cars which had to be extracted from the sea at Redcar yesterday. In one case, rather than wading to shore through a few inches of water, the occupants scrambled up to the roof of the vehicle and sat there in state like two latter-day King Cnuts.

Similar automotive woes awaited an unfortunate fisherman whose boat broke down off Dunbar. Finally rescued by the RNLI, he returned to the harbour to find his car under five feet of water (in the great tradition of local headlines, The East Lothian News gives us 'It's park and tide').

Forget the dour east-coast stereotypes, Dunbar's finest are clearly compassionate souls...
Gary Fairbairn, coxswain of Dunbar RNLI, said: “We didn’t have the heart to tell him about his car until we got back to land." 
...well, either that or they are veritable connoisseurs of Schadenfreude and wanted to savour the look on his face when he saw his submerged vehicle:
"To say he wasn’t happy is an understatement.
 There was less sympathy, however, in the comments:
'A full moon, highest tides, and he leaves it on the slipway to get in the way of other users? Sell yer boat son and stick to dry land.'
Meanwhile, we've become familiar with youngsters outsourcing their thinking to phones which, in some cases, appear to be smarter than their owners. There is certainly a growing tendency to rely on the things at the expense of common sense, as three holidaymakers from Essex found out when they set up a barbecue on a remote part of a Devon beach.

They had no idea of tide times, so it must have come as something of a shock to find themselves marooned on a fast-diminishing patch of sand at the foot of a sheer cliff. It was at that point that they realized - oh, the horror! - that they had no mobile signal to call for help.

Natural selection was thwarted by some distant observers calling out the rescue teams who airlifted them to safety, but even these Darwin Award hopefuls are presumably more of an asset to the gene pool than a group of teenagers from Norfolk.

With a high spring tide and a surge predicted, Hunstanton's Environment agency teams spent Tuesday night checking their flood defences. Patrolling the beach in the early hours of the morning, they found a cheerfully coloured tent pitched well below the expected high-water mark and containing five happily snoring teenage boys.

As anyone who has ever given houseroom to the species will know, teenage boys can sleep through alarm clocks, ringing phones or determined hoovering - almost anything, in fact, except the smell of frying bacon - so it's highly likely that without intervention, the youngsters would have been swamped inside their sleeping bags.

I hope their parents - and future progeny - are duly grateful.


  1. "Sell yer boat son and stick to dry land."

    Reminds me of an incident on the narrow roads of Norfolk yesterday.

    A guy in a big 4x4 was blocking the traffic because he couldn't reverse up close to a roadside wall. One of the bus drivers had to get out and show him how it's done.

    Our bus driver commented "if you can't drive it why buy it?"

  2. Some folk can't help pissing in the gene pool. Tis my fervent hope that these folk don't reproduce. Alas, I'll probably be disappointed. Dozy buggers seem intent to flood the world with their ill bred brats with IQs stumbling on the sub-normal. I think we should all be issued with a license before we breed. Consider a point system with a threshold. If you don't make it past the line, off with your nads. Of course, beautiful, tall, blond, magnificently formed, educated coves with a high IQ, such as my self would be constantly supplied with a bevy of pulchritudinous young lovelies with exceedingly large breasts.

  3. AKH, much the same thing could be said about the 4x4 mummies at our local primary school; in a typical example, I had to reverse for 50 yards along a narrow road because the one coming the other way could not - or would not - manoeuvre into the passing place just behind her back bumper.

    FS, It's not a new idea to suggest that modern life in the West is reversing natural selection, though it's generally not a line to take in public if you want to win friends and influence people, as at least one academic has found to his cost.

    I don't think 'intent' has much to do with it, though. It's more the lack of sabre-tooth tigers and other hazards associated with an earlier epoch - nature just hasn't caught up yet.


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