Walking the Dog

Remaining bitterly cold, with raw easterly winds continuing to bring in scattered blustery snow showers from the North Sea…

It was hardly the best of days to be out, but the weather rarely stopped him. It’d be, ‘Can’t be doing with this. The dog needs to be out too, don’t you old boy.’
There’d be others on the beach, solitary souls like him, walking their dogs, people he’d sometimes pass the time of day with. He called them the dog squad.

Sure enough, he was in a shelter on the lower prom, the dog by his side. It was blowing a gale, the sea nothing but white water, sea foam scattered across the beach, and he’s sitting sipping tea from his old flask.
From what I remember t
he conversation would’ve gone something like this.
‘Been looking for you.’
‘A bit blowy, son. But it’s lovely to see you.’
‘This is foul. Jesus Dad, what are you doing out in this?’
‘Needed his walk, didn’t he.’
‘Come on. Best make a move when you’ve finished that.’
‘Right. Didn’t say you were coming up, did you?’
‘Dad.’
‘Must’ve slipped my mind. Mickey’s happy to see you. You’ll be staying a little while?’

The neighbours had said he’d been wandering. But that’s what he’d done all his life. Took me on long rambles along this coast. Beach combing, sometimes out fishing, collecting sea coal too, insisted it burned brighter, warmer. Trundling the old bogie for miles and me coming home looking like I’d been playing on a slag heap. Maybe a bit cold and damp, but I’d warm up soon enough by the fire. Those days are long since gone, him too.

The lower promenade’s deserted, a bitter easterly seeing to that. And yet there are still those out walking their dogs. We nod to each other in passing. It’s the routine that matters, come rain or shine, whatever the weather.