30 September 2009

A Rainy Day In Herne Bay

Herne Bay. It's one of those seaside towns. A certain faded charm. The rain washes down in waves, the wind scours the estuary and scurries through the empty streets, on some unknown mission. I'm cold and wet and in a Graham Greene novel.

I'm walking past the Co-op, holding my coat to against the wind, gazing forlornly into its neon-lit interior. No one is shopping. The staff amble about listlessly inside, looking forward to closing-time. And then I bump into a friend. I smile a hopeful greeting. "I can't stop," she says. "I've got an appointment." And she runs, holding on to her bag to stop it falling from her shoulder. I watch her back sadly as she disappears up the road and around a corner.

I sit in a cafe and drink coffee. What else is there to do? Read a magazine about UF0s. Apparently JFK was the son of an alien, which is why the CIA had to assassinate him. All that X-File stuff. Conspiracies within conspiracies. Almost all the articles start like this: "March 20th 1996, 2.50 p.m., Heme Bay, Kent." There's a specific date, a specific time and a specific place. Ifs meant to give scientific credence to the vague stories that follow. But there's something dull and slightly absurd about the whole exercise. People have to have something-to believe in.

Just then the waiter comes over. "Another coffee?" he asks.

I could do with something to believe in too. I'm looking out of the window at the melancholy scene outside, and I'm thinking about UF0s. I can picture one right now: a huge gaseous object descending into the High Street in a swirl of shifting colours. I can see the alien life forms in there, diaphanous beings of light, radiating intelligence. One of them stretches and yawns, slips out of the machine and into the Newsagents, where he buys a copy of the Sun, and a packet of fags. And then they're off again, into interstellar space.

A rainy day in Herne Bay. Nothing much happens.