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 2 July 2015

'...it fell: and great was the fall of it.'

With the advent of warmer weather, we are bracing ourselves for the seasonal surge in the number of citizens of our island nation who set off for a spot of littoral recreation blissfully unaware that the sea will not necessarily stay put for the duration of their visit.

We are, of course, familiar with tales of Foolish Virgins plucked to safety after ambling along the water's edge or driving onto the sand with no thought for the rising tide but occasionally the inundations are on a grander scale, where freely available tide tables have somehow been overlooked.

This week furnished a particularly entertaining and cheerfully harmless example:
A long-awaited sandcastle competition on Cleethorpes beach had to be abandoned after the tide came in, and washed away the exhibits.
 It seems, according to the organisers, that there had been 'some misunderstanding about how early the tide would come in'. So who was in charge?
Organised by the British Architects (RBA) Love Architecture programme, the event was staged in front and to the side of the Pier.
This may not come as a surprise to anyone who has had to endure the inconvenience and impracticality of living or working in an 'award-winning' building - the sort where the architect has won prizes (or lucrative public sector contracts) for an assortment of radical features in drawings and scale models without the faintest idea of how to make those high-flown 'concepts' work in the real world.

Five teams of architects and nine teams from the general public were involved, making this a reasonably large-scale enterprise and one the organisers presumably hoped would be an excellent public relations exercise for their profession.
The competition was to finish around 3pm but with an hour to go all hope was lost as the tide came in which surrounded and then swamped the creations.
Stop! It's too much!
There were only four castles still standing on dry land by the end.
While less euphonious that the usual piss-up/brewery analogy, you have to admit that the inability to organise a sandcastle competition on a beach must confer some sort of distinction.


  1. I have lived all my life in the Midlands, about as far from the sea as one can be, but even I know about tide tables. I look them up before any holiday spent on the coast simply because it's a useful thing to know.

  2. There ought to be a law, or better an EU Directive enforcing standard times for the tide to be determined by national needs. Also, strict penalties to ensure enforcement.

  3. Or President Obama could be asked to order the tides not to come in. After all, sea levels stopped rising when he was elected - he's said so himself.

  4. Checking the local paper, they don't identify the "wise virgins" who built above the high tide line. Shame that.

  5. Akh, they are available as never before thanks to the internet - it still amazes me that I can, when researching a post, fins the tide times for the most obscure parts of the BritishIsles in seconds.
    Demetrius, as you said in a previous comment on a similar story, this would doubtless lead to innumerable fact-finding missions to agreeable tropical

  6. F2a etc I am reminded if Matt's excellent Telegraph cartoon on Obama!s election; a workman painting a sign by the ornamental lake in the White. House grounds: "please do not walk on the water"
    Frank, that would certainly have been interesting to know.

    Julia, thank you!

    Apologies all for fragmentary ressponses ;working on a borrowed ipD with fragmentary internet connections today.


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