This is not about Margate, as pictured, but a sandy-beached resort in the North of England. And it is not a neat, uplifting story, like yesterday’s blessed solitude. No, it’s one that should shake our complacency, and it happened last summer.
My niece Jo was there for a sand-painting event: we saw the project she was part of in Folkestone on Remembrance Sunday 2018.
As the team were finishing their work in August. there were two minibuses full of school children from districts of the town just a couple of miles away. Their leaders told the artists that some of these children had never been to the beach. Jo heard one of the boys say, ‘This has been the best day of my life.’
Gratifying for the leaders, perhaps, but, as Abel’s mother said, ‘You’d put them in the buggy and walk that distance.’ Why are their parents unable to do so? No-one is charged to play on the beaches in England.
Thank God for play leaders, but forgive us all that these deserts of deprivation exist – financial, material, psychological, spiritual – in a rich land like ours. This is one sort of desert that should not exist.