The Balcony of SBSC

The Balcony of SBSC

The wind steals like a thief through the gaps in the railings:
rusty, neglected, empty of children and childhood squeals.
The paint flakes into old waterproof chairs the crouch, trailing
secrets with dignified silence. Proud, like martyrs, they reveal
a past lost in a thousand storms. Hunched like fishermen
with their backs to the rain, the bar-be-ques sit quietly nodding
(agreeing with the windowsills that times were better back then),
and above this scene the misty, single glazed pane sits sobbing.

The echo of a faded glare lights up red on the cold, rotting floor,
the balcony shuffles and moans. And the years try to forget
the night of tired, loose-haired women crying and closing the door
and never returning – “for those in peril”.. tuneless, disquiet regrets.

ByRD, July 24th, 2003

SBSC, or Snettisham Beach Sailing Club, is one of the most special places in the world to me. I grew up in and out of it’s rooms – it’s members consisting of my extended family, the families of my friends, and faces so familiar I could not distinguish them from each other. It’s a members-only sailing club, which sounds very posh, but really was an active club for active sailors: a place to gather round whisky and beer after a day of racing on the rough North Sea.

The Snettisham sailing community has existed for generations, since my own family bought their bungalow on the coast when my dad was only a few years old. As they grew up, my dad’s childhood friends took over their parents bungalows as he took over his, and their children became my friends: Lucinda, Jodie, Lawrence, Martin, Michael, Anna.

The current sailing club was built on stilts to be a point of refuge for flooding. I wrote this poem as a tribute to the storms it has weathered, the families it has sheltered, and the changes it has seen. Even though today the club has been renovated with new wood  paneling, carpet, and built in chairs, I will always remember it with the ramshackle furniture, and damp floors of my childhood.

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