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  • James Glover

Story 21: The doodles help to clear up the beach

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

After all the excitement, Christmas had come and gone in a flash, and the only thing Dante and DeDe could remember was just how juicy the turkey had been. But after four days of the same meat DeDe had had enough and did consider going vegetarian. Thankfully today she found ham and sausage in her bowl, obviously the holidays were over.

None of the doodles had been to the beach since Christmas Eve, they’d decided to spend time at home napping on the sofa, with one eye on the kitchen door, just in case there was a little something for them.

When Dante watched the decorations being taken down, he decided an early night was in order. He always feels a bit flat when the decorations come down, so he went upstairs and settled in his bed. As he nodded off he heard a storm brewing. Dante gets nervous when the wind blows, and knows he won’t get a good night’s sleep while it lasts. The combination of the decorations coming down and the storm brewing made him somewhat melancholy.

As the first glimmer of light peeped through the window Dante thought he hadn’t slept a wink. DeDe hadn’t had a good night either, but that had less to do with the storm and more to do with Dante’s snoring. She smiled when Dante said he hadn’t slept well as she knew different. Neither felt like getting up, but when they heard Mr Exercise Man on the tele downstairs they felt energised and rushed to join in.

After a quick breakfast they ran to the station to catch Billy Train. They could see the winds had been rough by the leaves and branches in their way. As the railway crossing came into view they were shocked to see a tree being lifted off the track. “Gosh” said Dante, “It really must have been quite a storm”.

Luckily Billy was punctual, and they hardly had time to say hello to Phoebe before jumping aboard and running to their favourite seats. Unusually, Dante preferred to be quiet preferring to gaze out the window, but DeDe and Phoebe chatted about what they’d done over Christmas and how much turkey they’d had and how unfit they felt. Although Phoebe had enjoyed her turkey she did find it dry and somewhat bland. She too was pleased when it was finished and she could go back to her usual bacon and minced beef.

When they arrived at Camber, Cheryl, the ticket collector wanted to tell them all about her Christmas and how many mince pies she’d had. But Dante wasn’t in the mood for small talk and carried on straight by her.

DeDe and Phoebe saw how hurt Cheryl was with his behaviour so took extra care to listen to her stories. Even though she told them twice about how much Christmas pudding she’d had, and how she’d pinched her grandson’s icing without him noticing. In an attempt to finish the conversation DeDe interrupted by asking if she’d missed the beige biscuits she normally ate at work, hoping she’d feel hungry and nip off to find one. Sadly Cheryl didn’t get the hint and just carried on talking without drawing a breath. It wasn’t until Phoebe said. ‘We really shouldn’t keep you from your work” that she grimaced and let them go.

They could feel a distinct chill as they climbed the dunes, it had certainly been a cold night. As they ran down the other side they saw there was nobody on the beach. All they could see were the seagulls scavenging near the water’s edge.

As DeDe and Phoebe ran to the sea Dante preferred to run back into the dunes. For some strange reason he wanted to be quiet and watch his friends play. As he gazed toward the horizon he heard a familiar voice drifting on the wind, and he was jolted back into his head by Harley and Lily-Poo saying, “Hello!”

Sensing Dante was not in the mood for talking they sat down beside him and gazed out to sea, watching DeDe and Phoebe dashing along the beach.

As they followed the doodles dashing back and forth, they noticed how much rubbish there was on the beach. Amongst other things they saw hundreds of plastic water bottles, food wrappers and supermarket carrier bags strewn along the beach.

And that wasn’t all, when Lily-Poo joined them after her dash she pointed to a pair of pink high heeled shoes, two coat hangers and a ripped lampshade!

It looked like someone was having a decluttering day and had spread everything on the floor before deciding what to throw away. It certainly wasn’t a pretty sight and it certainly needed tidying up. They couldn’t just sit around looking at the mess. They needed to get busy.

Being a born leader Harley immediately appointed himself “The Foreman” expecting everyone to do exactly as he said. Unfortunately the others aren’t ‘natural followers’ and pride themselves on being liberated independent doodles, and weren’t keen on being bossed about by anyone. They pretended to jump to it but after collecting a couple of bottles Dante lost interest and ran to the sea for a paddle. Neither DeDe nor Lily-Poo enjoyed picking up rubbish either so soon slunk off unnoticed. This left Phoebe labouring on close under the foreman’s gaze.

It took practise to pick up more than one item at a time, but soon Phoebe found she was able to grab the strap of an old shoe as well as squeezing two plastic bottles in her mouth at the same time. She found she was enjoying herself and felt happy to be making a difference.

By now DeDe and Lily-Poo had settled in the dunes for a natter.

“How could this have happened” said Lily-Poo, “why can’t everyone put their rubbish in the bin so it can be ethically disposed of?” DeDe agreed saying she’d read quite a bit recently about the rubbish problem and knew there was an environmental crisis.

Harley felt sad when he realised only he and Phoebe were clearing up. All the rubbish overwhelmed him and he didn’t think they would ever clear everything away. He began to think about the fish and how they must hate bumping into plastic milk bottles or a torn plastic shopping bags. Why was so much being thrown away into the sea?

His thoughts made him work even faster and it didn’t take long before he saw they were making a difference. There was still a long way to go, but they were starting to see the sand again! By now Phoebe was getting weary. Luckily she knows a little bit about employment law and knew all workers are entitled to a break every now and then.

Wanting a break Phoebe ran to find Lily-Poo and DeDe who were still chatting in the dunes. She had been given a large slab of Winton’s Liver Cake for Christmas and was keen to share some with them all. She hadn’t even unwrapped it when Dante and Harley joined in looking on expectantly. Phoebe divided the cake into five equal pieces and they all tucked in. As they munched they gazed across the beach at the apocalyptic scene. How did this happen, who would want to spoil their precious spot?

Continuing to shake their heads, embarrassed that their beach was such a mess, they noticed a large group of furless two legs walking towards them with what looked like black plastic flags in their hands. To their surprise the furless two legs bent down and started collecting the plastic into what they soon realised were big plastic bags.

Dante winked at Harley as if to say, there is no need for us to clear up anymore, let’s leave it to this lot and go for a dash in the dunes. With a twitch of his nose Harley took off along the beach, quickly followed by Dante. For the first time since the Christmas decorations had come down, Dante felt happy and alive. With the wind in their fur the two doodles returned to their carefree ways and forgot all about the problems others were causing.

Gazing along the beach at the rubbish DeDe gave out a big sigh, pleased to see help had arrived and to know soon their beach would be clean again. The rest of the day was uneventful, they had lunch in the cafe as usual, and afterwards Dante paddled in the sea. Harley dug holes, Phoebe found more smelly seaweed and Lily-Poo and DeDe had a good natter.

The days were still short so it wasn’t long after lunch that they set off for home. Walking along the beach towards the train they noticed the rubbish had all but disappeared, except for the mountain of black plastic bags piled high by the cafe wall. With a bit of luck things were getting back to how they should be.

© The camberdoodles

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