Time passed like what it does waiting for dinner to cook and then PING, one day, a Tuesday or a Monday or something, the ugly folk of Twelve Shitty Acres got a break. One of them, an orange coloured dolly who went by the name of Lil-Let, came home with a little stapled book. It was not Dostoeffin-effski’s Shades of Grey or Dr. K. Kardashian’s polemic The Rise of Man or whatever, but something she’d found, along with several twenty notes and half a pack of spearmint gum, in the camo-cargo-pant knee pocket of a polite and pleasant punter she’d made brief encounter of in the central station gents’ lavatory. He was on his way back to the pretty seaside town whence he came but fancied a bit of rough before he took the train.
The little book was filled page after page with numbing printed columns of numbers. The boredom of these mysterious figures was broken every so often with glossy adverts for fancy ice cream parlours, naked fish and chip reiki salons, raw food surf cafés, boutiques for hemp beachwear/workwear, vegan mothers’ yoga sessions, gluten-free paddle-boarding classes, esoteric coffee shops, ironic Hitlerite hair-do barbers, vape-friendly stitch n bitch mornings, alcohol-free pop-ups, micro-dosing for miniature dogs, skateboarding for seniors, adopt a homeless, pony massage for toddlers… a host of things in fact so alien to Lil-Let’s chicken bucket flights of fancy that they may well have been a joke had it not been for the prices (and even then she wasn’t sure).
She awoke one Friday, Saturday (Thursday) morning around lunchtime from a crack pipe reverie and realised immediately within some hours that the columns of numbers represented the comings and goings of the tides – the corresponding times and dates – of a pretty seaside town some metro hops from Twelve Shitty Acres.
She chewed this over and while she chewed she wondered at the surely photo-shopped physiques of the pleasant people in the adverts and tried to figure what to do with this newfound knowledge that she’d acquired. And, while the tiny pieces of bright white gum were of little use to her except to plug the gaps in her already ravaged teenage mouth, she at least now could cultivate a vaguely toothy grin, as the pretty seaside people did. And then she had another smoke and then she came up with a plan.
Every sun-day the Twelve Shitty Acres folk would dress up in their sun-day best: the boys in best black trackie and box-fresh training shoe, the girls in fun-fur hot-pants and fluffy sling-backs and ride for free the train from the far-side of the city to the pretty seaside town, their voices like a can of spanners on the escalator.
“The sea air’s good for you, Rocky Three.”
“Whatever. I want another pie.”
“Drink yer Stella and shut up, yer little bastard.”
This sun-day was no different. Pushchairs crammed with slabs of booze, disposable barbecues and puppy dogs and sometimes, babies trundled off the train through the pretty seaside town; sticky toddlers with mouths like gutters and strutting kids with pizza faces, necks festooned with purple bruises, and orange coloured teenage girls, gutsy or skeletal, in crop tops, arse cheeks peeping like crescent moons, spat at windows; wrinkled mothers with contusions under cakes of pan and ankle straps of tattooed mis-spelt names and broken hearts punctuated vague sentences with swear words, and growling men with the mean face on laughed loudly and ridiculously; triangular and bare chested teens, yanking on chainlink leashes, their sad dogs not quite finishing pissing up the brightly coloured front doors or the high sides of four-by-fours, smoked cut-price cigarettes as if their lives depended on it. Urine spots, like simple modern works of art, perhaps, and hound shite mountains rose from the bone-dry paving. The people of the pretty seaside town don’t look so pleased with themselves now, thought Lil-Let.
Lil-Let, the pretty beach cupping her calamitous breasts and belly, her toes also buried, laid, with her chins in the sand, listening to the sounds that filled the air. The voices and laughter and the waves like breaking glass, one hundred ghetto-blasters all playing the nation’s unlistenable number one. The experience reminded her of the Jarrow Tanning Salon, but without the changing rooms, the perfumed candles, the sponges, the bill. And, from this position, she orchestrated the plan – advising the folk of Twelve Shitty Acres as if it was a war. Which it was.
It took many years to complete, but the folk of Twelve Shitty Acres dismantled the whole estate, throwing the bricks into the dirty river mouth and collecting them, sea tumbled, secret-like, several miles up the coast on sun-days and so began the slow rebuild on the outskirts of the pretty seaside town. The pyramids, they say, took quite long to build, but this job took longer. It took so long in fact that many of the kids had grown old and bent by completion and many of the old and bent had climbed into the coffin box with their twenty L&B and closed the lid and gone to sleep and many of the babies had gone to prison for stealing things and beating coppers. But, finally, they rolled up all the carpets, threw them in the river, too. Drawers of crappy cutlery and plastic kettles and old bed frames and family photos and plasma screens and cots and prams and shitty dogs and bags of turds that hung from trees and powder drugs went into the river also.
They whistled grime and dub step tunes, dumped the foundations of their lives into the dirty river – for one had seen The Great Escape – and Twelve Shitty Acres was washed up on the tide, piece by piece, at the edge of the pretty seaside town.
Eventually, after several generations, Twelve Shitty Acres was completely dismantled, thrown into the dirty river, washed out to sea and collected, brick by brick, from the beach of the pretty seaside town and roughly rebuilt.
One sunny Good Friday the pleasant people of the pretty seaside town opened up their shops that lined the seafront but no one from Twelve Shitty Acres got off the train and this made the pleasant people happy for a while but a little nervous, too, because though they liked to sell stuff to the ugly folk, they would soon run out of money if they didn’t show up. And this is what happened. The following day, they called an emergency meeting and decided 150-3 to close down the shops, cash in, and take the rest of the year off. A gap year some would call it.
Easter Sunday was another sunny day and the pleasant people packed polenta picnics and lemon drizzle and fondant fancies and sparkling water and zero cal-coke for the children, got their haircut, put on their finest chino pants, sneakers and ironic retro tee shirts and drove out in their four-by-fours to the edge of their pretty seaside town to where the waves were really good for surfing and sunbathing. Perhaps this is what they had been aiming for their whole lives? Perhaps this was their reward?
But, when they reached the quiet outskirts of their pretty seaside town there was some confusion. They tapped their Tom-Toms and scratched their heads: the usually glorious morning sun was almost hidden behind a sprawl of ramshackle new-builds. The pretty beach was full of ugly, dreadful folk with tracksuits rolled up to their calfs and elbows, and smoky toxic barbecues burned on the sand and loud music and foul language filled the air and slobbering dogs sniffed each other’s shitty arses and children with fallen arches pissed in the dunes and crack pipes glinted everywhere: empty cans of discount lager and crappy nappies and fast food wrappers and cigarette butts were strewn as far as the eye could see, and graffiti was sprayed onto the art deco lavatories and hordes of women, the skinniest and the fattest ever, with reworked lips and Russian lashes (that blotted out what was left of the sunlight), lolled in the surf like seals in bikinis and scrawny teens and strapping lads with face tattoos surfed the waves on what were clearly plastic front doors and frisbees made from pizza boxes filled the sky; old folk in stickered and flagged wheelchairs with grubby blankets and hankies tied to their brow, dribbled everywhere and uttered nonsense through ghastly dentistry; and mean men with soft gold chains hidden in their chest hair, and gangs of foul mouthed grey-skinned children, either fighting or fucking fat arsed types in the ditches, were everywhere like flying ants! And there, above the once pretty beach – well, no one could quite believe it – was it a mirage? – a new Twelve Shitty Acres of dripping bricks had somehow appeared.
The pleasant people of the pretty seaside town returned, quite disgruntled, to their boarded-up and empty shops and stood around listless and wondered what to do. But what was there to do?
Come September, when normally their accounts would be filled with coffers, there was nothing to be found in them but IOUs and very soon the men in the shiny two piece suits (blue, a little tight) came knocking and wondered where their money was, and shortly after that the TV licence detector van was seen more and more often and the pleasant people of the pretty seaside town couldn’t quite explain where the TV licence money was and the chest fridge-freezers emptied and the electric company men, with their slimy smile, wanted their money and the office workers with their skinny ties, and the dustmen and the postmen in their Carhartt overalls, and the despised traffic wardens with their cameras, refused to get up in the morning – there was no wage packet to pocket anymore, so what was the point?
By winter, the miniature dogs, once so cute, started shitting in the street that had seen better days and once-slim ladies’ tights grew full of ladders, and snakes grassed up their neighbours for petty reasons and soon enough the coppers came and marched the pleasant people up the street and pushed them onto the trains that seemed to be forever waiting for them in the once-pretty seaside station. Some of the pretty people complained a little so the coppers called in other coppers and these ones barked and had rubber truncheons and wore button badges of tumbling crosses and they took no pretty seaside nonsense and soon the transportation of the pleasant people became a daily and expected sufferance and off the trains rumbled with locked doors to where there once was an estate for down at heel and ugly folk called Twelve Shitty Acres, but now there was only a fenced-in twelve shitty acres.