A Day in the Life of our Displaced Cockney
6th December 2018
as published by St Andrew's Church in the Gorleston Community Magazine
Well known in Gorleston as the former Principal of the East Norfolk Sixth Form College, and the secretary of the Norwich branch of the British Cactus and Succulent Society, our Displaced Cockney is Laurie Poulson whose travels in life have taken him from birth in the East End of London, all around England, until he came to Gorleston in 1999, where he has been ever since.
11th November 2018
This was a day of many emotions and many thoughts on the futility of war, the sacrifice made by so many and the loss felt by so many more.
It started at St Andrew’s Church where the Service of Remembrance befittingly filled every seat and more chairs had to be brought in from the Chapter House next door to fill any spare space.
Then, over lunchtime and into the afternoon, I joined the crowds on Gorleston Beach, making silhouettes in the sand by the water’s edge and reading the poignant words of Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘The Wound in Time’ as part of the ‘Pages of the Sea’ event, echoing the poem’s final lines “History might as well be water, chastising this shore; for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice. Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea”.
The evening was spent at the Palace Cinema where they were showing Peter Jackson’s ‘They shall not grow old’, an epic restoration project of original First World War footage. It was on the TV later that night but it was all the more moving for seeing those long-lost faces coming into sharp, full-colour life on the big screen, whilst sitting in the company of other people sharing that same experience.
Then back to the beach for the last hour before high tide. For that hour I stood, the only person on the beach, amongst the silhouettes, as my sand figure gradually succumbed to the rising tide. It was very special to stand there for that hour, all alone and yet not alone. Other than the multiple ranks of the silhouettes, all in good order, all facing the sea, my only company was a solitary seagull which beat a slow course along the shore-line every ten minutes or so, patrolling along the demarcation line between land and sea, between the front-line and no-man’s land, with its wings strangely tinged red in the lights of the promenade.
The night was dark, with the far horizon studded with the multiple lights of ships and beacons. There was no wind and the sea was calm, with no great height to the tide. I watched as my sand figure gradually slipped away, with the last trace going just two minutes before high tide, leaving only memories.
A fitting end to a day of many thoughts and emotions.