Bubble Man

The seafront is unseasonably warm for mid-September, what they would call an ‘Indian summer’, I believe. The unexpected temperature has presented an interesting visual census of pessimism vs optimism with the mix of people in thick jackets compared to those in shorts and sleeveless t-shirts. I have my jumper folded beside me, so I suppose I fall into the ‘cautious optimist’ category.

Ahead of me, there is a man on the beach entertaining the children on the promenade with bubbles. Not just any kind of bubbles, these are colossal compared to the tiny orbs kids usually get a kick out of. He dunks two skinny poles connected by a string into some kind of bubble solution, Fairy Liquid if history has taught me anything, and raises them steadily into a vertical position, allowing the wind to draw out the bubbles into long, irregular shapes. They glisten in the sun, a 3D rainbow in oscillation, as they drift like water in space between the rusted pillars that decorate the square.

The children love the bubbles. They raise their arms to the colossi as if they could reach them all the way up there, or perhaps as if, through sheer willpower, they could pull them to earth. They run after the lower-flying bubbles and flail at them, laughing hysterically as the bubbles take lilting evasive action and drift over their whirling limbs.

One little boy stamps his feet in frustration as he is too small, and his motor-skills not yet developed enough to outmanoeuvre the kaleidoscopic shapes that gleam over him. He finally makes his first catch. A goliath bubble, a zeppelin, too large to escape the Earth’s gravity, drifts right into him, he holds out his pudgy hands and POP, he is showered by the droplets of the kill. He spins in triumph to his older brother, who has had far more success due to his superior stature, and grins. The older brother ignores him and they both run back to the bubble man, ready for the next quarry to be released.

The bubble man decides enough is enough and begins to pack down. The smaller boy stands in front of him expectantly, waiting for more bubbles to chase. Clearly, the bubble man has dealt his share of disappointment before. He expertly deflects the child’s disappointment by offering him a cone, which the boy plays with whilst he finishes packing down. Before the boy has time to process the fact that there will be no more bubbles today, his dad has challenged him to a race, and they run happily down the walkway, around the corner, out of sight.

When I next look up, the bubble man has disappeared, drifted off like one of his creations, down the beach, into town, off to buy more Fairy Liquid perhaps.

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