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Open Features: On The Beach

So what would you ask for if a genie came out of a bottle you found on the beach and offered you one wish? Don Hickman tells a tall Isle of Wight tale.

Do you remember that long hot summer back in the Seventies? Well I have a good reason to do so. I was sitting on the beach with the tide way out. One of them very low spring tides, that seem to go out as far as Milton Keynes. Well almost.

So I am on the beach at Ryde on the Isle of Wight, and it being a clear day, I have my back to the sun and am facing north in the direction of Portsmouth. Studying my navel, you could say, but that is not so, because a large navel ship went out the day before yesterday, and the other one’s in refit. No point you looking for the Royal Navy this year.

It’s hot, it’s after tot time, and I must have shut my eyes, 'cos next I know the water's come back round my feet, and I can hear a chap walking on the wet sand. Quick thinking, I says Amen, and opens me eyes. There facing me, bobbing on the water is a bottle. Now I don’t know what made me handle it, I knew that it wasn’t mine, because it had something in it, and I never leave a bottle like that. Well I picks him up and sees that it’s full of something, and the bottle has a screw cap, I soon had him open, and what do you think, out comes a genie. Now if the bottle had contained beer, I would not have drunk it, so what made me listen to a genie appearing out of this here bottle by magic I will never know.

However, here goes as best as I can remember.

The genie pointed out that the bottle had a 2d deposit on it, so I could be on my way to becoming rich. I asked how many years had he been afloat, but he brushed this aside by saying that I could also have one wish. Now I don’t believe in genies and I don’t do magic so I thought that I would be frivolous and amuse myself by asking the impossible. “Could I have a long affair with a tall scrubber on Ryde seafront?” I asked. “Dun,” he says and vanishes in a cloud of heifers dust. This was no ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ but is it a coincidence that Shakespeare’s Robin Goodfellow, or Puck as he was also known, dwelt close by at Puckpool just up the coast from Ryde.

Do you know he was right. Some years later, my last job before retirement was with the local council employed as Ryde Harbour Master. Part of the perquisites was to walk the pontoons and knock off the seagull droppings with a long handled scrubber.

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