Sunday 22 April 2012: Naylor's Cove
Met my friend Y as I was leaving Fiachra's, having sorted out a few more things for the film/ghost story we're making. I was in the mood for a drive and she was on her way to Bray, so I persuaded her to take a lift rather than the DART. When we got there she invited me along to meet her mother P and go for fish and chips. So we did, in a lovely little restaurant near the amusement park at the end of the prom. It was empty so we got a table by the huge viewing window. We had a great chat, everything from P's upbringing in Bray (in a lovely old house on Prince of Wale's Tce.) to the 'elderly' couple who set up a tent in their garden recently to protest against being evicted from their house in Killiney (though they apparently still own 18 or so houses which they get rent from). During this, I couldn't take my eyes off the sea and its shifty colours, heavy clouds trailing those smudged curtains of rain, a faint line of vanilla light just below the horizon to the right. By the time we left the line had extended over most of the horizon but was dark grey.
We walked up the Head. I noted the bleached photos of a young woman on some of the lampposts, under the tragic ominous headline: MISSING. Then the winding stone steps down to the little cove. A long time since I've been in Naylor's Cove. I wrote about my time in Bray (i.e. about when I first moved there in the mid 1970s) on my blog, and there is a photo I took, nearly a decade later in the 1980s, of the snow-covered bathing huts. Interesting to compare with the photo above: nearly all the concrete huts have been demolished by the sea.
Only three of the smaller huts survive, thoroughly cave-painted as you can see, smelling darkly of fairly recent camp fires. Heaps of seaweed (that slippery stewy iodine stink), also various bits of rubbish: beer cans, discarded taggers' spray cans, etc. The place spoke of desolation, neglect, spontaneous cider parties and riotous good fun.
The only song I know which features this obscure little cove is by the wonderful Fionn Regan (whose mum I used to often meet in the 1990s, when I lived in Bray). The song is his early Put A Penny In The Slot. And the only poem I know which features Naylor's cove is one I wrote, published in my third collection, Fade Street.. Not a happy little poem, but true to its occasion:
One night you stumbled down to the cold shingle
to scream fuck death at the sea
(derelict concrete changing rooms gaping behind you)
as if this could abort the journey.
Months later, across the water, in the blank
aftermath, while she took a nap,
you watched grey squirrels skitter up and down
the skinny overgrown pines.
This is to nothing, to no one, an ocean, a merman
thrashing its tail - a boy
who would now be almost thirteen. Atomised eyes
level and look straight through
your own, unfocusing, till you know nothing but the air
that stares you so thoroughly out.