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  • Once upon a time the whole town had descended on it as soon as the sun appeared. Then a run of bad summers, cheap foreign travel and changing fashions had conspired against it. Like the bad luck that always comes in threes the unholy trinity had done for the outdoor swimming baths. Why shiver in the freezing Irish sea when the warm sensuous waters of the Mediterranean beckoned. Gradually the stone piers and jetties crumbled. The council ceased to make repairs and the sea began to spitefully reclaim its stolen territory.

    Now the stunted remnants lay waiting for the years and the storms to finish their work. The changing huts, shut up now with huge rusting padlocks, gazed vacantly out to sea. Broken slabs of concrete lay smashed across the foreshore. Iron pilings and fractured brickwork lay in loose piles. It was as though some maddened God had reached down in anger and pounded man's puny efforts with a gargantuan fist. Empty beer cans lay everywhere, proving that the old place still fulfilled one last, diminished form of entertainment. The busted facades of the old changing huts had been brightly spray painted by local graffiti artists. Their efforts lent an air of forced cheerfulness to the grim scene.

    Here my father had played, swam and chased girls. Here I, as a child, had caught the last fading echo of those days, the place already crumbling by then. I was just in time, mine was the last generation to experience it. The council had pronounced the death sentance while I was still very young.

    I brushed flies away irritably. There seemed to be thousands of them, attracted by the rotting seaweed and general decay. The battered concrete structures would endure for a few years yet. Then they would vanish; like the lifestyle that had spawned them they were obsolete. The silent dereliction depressed me. I wanted a beer and some cheerful faces. I heaved myself off the slab I'd been sitting on, slapped one last time at the flies and trudged back up the broken steps.
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