Saturday, January 21, 2006

A brief note on beachcombing

This is Vancouver, Douglas Coupland's "City Of Glass". Coupland is a beachcomber. Mystical and romantic associations cling to beachcombing like barnacles to a bottle. From what I can gather the practice consists of walking along the shoreline picking up other people's rubbish with a view to reusing it, and there's nothing wrong with that, unless you're expected to be somewhere else, I suppose, in the operating theatre, perhaps, or on traffic duty. There is nothing any more noble, or ennobling about it however, than its inland, urban equivalent of going down a skip. Indeed one might expect to discover a greater variety of reusable objects in a skip as the items to be found therein are not limited by buoyancy issues, and are unlikely to be layered with crustaceans. I like to clamber on rocks, and hear the waves drum out the earth's heartbeat, as much as anyone, but I think it's a mistake to dilute the experience with sporadic refuse collection. You don't need an excuse to walk upon the beach, with the bottoms of your trousers rolled. Unless you're a cardio-thorassic surgeon with timekeeping problems.

"What's that? The patient died! Well, at least I managed to find half a pair of running shoes and a plastic biscuit barrel without a lid."

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