Have you noticed many snowmen disappearing lately? Yes? No need to phone the missing-persons line: they’ve been relaxing here, sleeping on the beach in their disguises as sandmen. The splendid specimen in the picture was melting in the sun but seemed much happier about the prospect, stoically supping a Carib beer and hoping for a carrot.
Tracy asked if she could take some pictures and, while she was positioning cameras for the photoshoot, I learned how a snowman impersonating a sandman came to be sitting on Our Beach (latterly and locally known as Dr Groom’s beach). Once the sandy snowman was confident that we were merely British citizens and not associated with the government or Mr Assange, ‘Sandy’ [real name withheld] began to divulge the details of a predicament. “It all started as a bit of a good-natured protest at the lack of employment in Britain due to the warming climate. Then it just snowballed. I remember when Christmas was the busiest time of the year for snowmen; we could be seen in gardens and parks everywhere—a traditional winter-frieze no less!”
Sandy opened another Carib. “At first it was a bit of bluster. Those in my unit were chilling out and generally being cool when a mate of mine, Snowy, said: ‘As the government refuses to guarantee any work in December and January, and considering the extended pay freeze, why don’t we all clear off to the Caribbean and have a two-month party?’
“There was a moment that seemed longer than it was. The chuckles that should have followed the joke were muted as the thought gently settled in each of us. Someone said, ‘We would have to make sure they had desalinated water and good air.’ ‘Conditioning would be essential,’ said another. ‘Icy,’ replied Snowy, black-as-coal eyes smouldering with the thought of what could be, ‘We need to talk more …’.
“And it would have all gone so well but for that crispy Jack Frost!” snorted Sandy. “He said he didn’t like foreign food and didn’t want to come. He also offered to cover for us, doing a bit of overtime to whiten things up if necessary. The last few years could have been covered by Jack, by and large, so we agreed. But we didn’t know we were on such thin ice. Jack, sensing the opportunity of booking a regular gig, offered Santa’s elves 10% over Santa’s rate and has set about exposing our unofficial holiday by using all the reserve snow to cover the land and thereby make our absence obvious.”
Silence fell on the beach. Sandy looked whimsical. “What a dastardly thing to do!” I offered. “What a dastard!” I think was the reply. “Some of the chaps got worried about their pensions and jumped in the Gulf Stream back to Blighty. They were hoping there’d be no ‘ell to avoid if they returned before the 25th. Unfortunately, I hear reports that they’ve been branded by the Party as a ‘thaw in the government’s side’ and given continuous hard labour in coldest suburbia. I’m currently watching out for signs of any agents from the Party’s most clandestine policy-enforcement unit: the sea critter police.”
“What will you do?” I enquired, intrigued. Sandy opened three bottles. One was passed to me and another waved at Tracy, who had finished setting up the cameras and was tapping her wrist and pointing to the descending sun for some reason. “It’s not all bad,” Sandy added, biting off and spitting out the cap from a bottle and then draining the contents. “The sandmen were short-staffed, due to the demands of local builders, and welcomed us. I find them to be ingrained and dry, and full of silly con-servative notions. However, some have lovely hour-glass figures and make a delicious dessert—and after a tot of rum they’re far from fridged! You could say we’ve established a beachhead here. We just want to enjoy a bit of sun and sea for once. Is that so much to ask?”
Sandy offered us some fantastic barbequed corn on the cob, some stunning popcorn, and a maize in sandwich combinations, which ran the risk of being over-corny but I couldn’t resist.
Then we were asked a favour. “If I can get the jet packs working I reckon most of us can be back in Britain, in full snow-garb, by New Year’s Eve,” Sandy said. “The Party is unable to distinguish between genuine snowmen and human-built ones—especially when carrots and coals are used in the proper places. With this in mind, would you ask any humans you know to nip outside and either build a pretend snowman or see if one has been built nearby? Were some festive spirit to let my unit know the locations of these human-built snowmen, preferably with a photo, then we could deploy ourselves accordingly when we get back. It would be up to the Party to prove we’d had the party and hadn’t been there all the time.”
With a full bottle, we left Sandy with the sunset and surf.
Andrew and Tracy