It’s a steaming day out there today, and boy that Pacific feels good… all of a sudden it’s properly hot again, and the hoards have descended on Manly for the sea breeze and relief. It’s also school holidays at the moment, so the Manly Ferry is heaving with imported youth as it drags into the wharf, excited day-trippers in clusters of friendship and awkward romance.
All these things are right and proper, and recall many fond memories of my own school holidays with friends – surely we were the most hilarious people in the universe? Surely no time had ever been spent quite so enjoyably as ours? Surely the sky was higher, the sun brighter, and the water more brilliant than ever before? Surely.
But yesterday, something dreadful happened. I was here at my desk all day, venturing out only late afternoon for a walk along the beach in the last of the light. I called Llew and had an unsatisfactory conversation with him that kept me distracted until about halfway down the beach promenade. I hung up on him. Then I turned to the beach and it took a moment to absorb what lay before me. Carnage. Absolute carnage.
“Oh my god,” I said aloud. “Oh my god. Look at the beach.”
I turned round and round and tried to catch someone’s eye.
“Look at the beach,” I cried to anyone who would listen, “look at the beach.”
I almost started crying. For there, for several hundred metres, from North Steyne to South, was a rubbish tip the likes of which I have never, ever seen before. Not in my entire life. Not even on Bondi Beach after Christmas Day. Rubbish was strewn from one end of the beach to the other. McDonald’s bags and burger boxes, chip packets, remnants of Hungry Jack’s, Coke cans, beer bottles, fish and chips containers, kebab foils, plastic, paper, aluminium cans, a tidal wave of consumer detritus, gorged and then discarded.
How could they? How could anyone, I ask you, come to a pristine, beautiful natural environment like this beach, sit on their fat fuck lazy godforesaken arse for the day, shove their overfed lard-choked face with more deep-fried artery-choking nutrient-free CRAP, and then throw their rubbish on the sand, get up, and waddle away back to the ferry and wherever the fuck they’ve come from where that sort of behaviour is okay? WHO THE HELL BEHAVES LIKE THAT? I am always aghast, totally and utterly appalled and enraged, when I see littering in isolation; what I saw yesterday was so shocking, and I am actually traumatised by what I saw, because it represents an epidemic of indifference. The trash was flung right along the sand, up and down, top to bottom. The quantities too were beyond distressing. Whole cases of beer bottles just upended on the sand. Takeaway bags rolling along the sand like the tumbleweeds of spaghetti westerns. It was like a version of hell. My version, I guess.
And I have to wonder at yesterday’s predominantly teenaged day-trippers, because although nothing is more tedious than endless comparisons between my day and theirs, I have to say I never littered, and nor did my friends. I wouldn’t have considered for a moment leaving the refuse of our day for someone else to clean up. And I certainly wouldn’t have abandoned my group’s flotsam to the beautiful sands of any of the beaches we are just so lucky to enjoy. How could they? I just cannot fathom it, not for the life of me.