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September 21, 2011 / Siobhan Argent

Beachy keen

If you work or live in the Port Melbourne area, you’re bound to notice a couple of things:

a) the exorbitant price you have to pay to get a sandwich
around here

b) the beach

c) that I’m here.

Put away those cameras! Don’t get too excited; it’s my place of work, not my place of leisure. The chances of being able to spot me at any of the trendified bars around here is much like saying Top Gear Australia repeats have every chance of being shown directly after The Rupert Murdoch Sincere
Apology Special
. While I’ll admit that Port Melbourne is not my preferred place to let loose, swing a cat or just plain hang around, it has its benefits. Momentary, fleeting beach escapism is one of them.

My workplace may not overlook the beach, but if I can scam a lift from someone, it’s reachable in a lunch hour. Accompanied by an over-priced sandwich roll (and possibly, the person who actually drove me down there), it’s possible to dash off to my own personal beachfront for a few minutes before it’s
time to go back to my office chair and my scenic outlook facing a concrete wall (hey, it’s better than nothing).

I’m no fan of spending a hot day at the beach, mainly because sand is not your friend when you’re wearing less clothes than usual. Sand is the stalker of nature; it gets in everywhere and sticks around for days afterwards, reminding you of that stupid day you did something you shouldn’t have (i.e., went and watched all the posers at the beach).

And then, further joy. Once your skin gets sand-blasted to death and dries out, the logical thing to do is go for a swim, right? Not when salt-laden waves threaten to simultaneously drown you and invade your tired old pores, leaving you with the same type of all-consuming salt crust as a Masterchef chicken. A chicken and I also have another thing in common; the fact that, when plucked of most of our coverings, our thighs are disproportionately larger than the rest of our bodies. While I’ve been fielding calls from Donald Trump about entering the next Miss Universe contest, beachfront culture is where my dignity tends to curl up and die.

It’s seems as though beaches are hard-wired into an sympathetic part of the Australian brain. Most people have the same reaction when they visit the wind-beaten, sand-whipping, choppy shoreline. Beaches are not so much about sitting on the sand and sucking in concave stomachs. For me, it’s the thought that, during a lunch hour, I can sit on the edge of the continent and remember that I’d rather be here than anywhere else the sea might take me.


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