The MSC Napoli was lying wrecked about a mile out to sea when we walked into a pub in Devon after a long walk along the coast.
As we entered, we were conscious of conversations dying, and of being weighed up by the locals. Looters had descended on Devon and Dorset that week, scouring the the cargo washing up on the beach for tasty items (motorbikes!); there were police officers around trying to deal with the theft; and journalists, too, hunting for stories.
We did our best to look like hiking-boot-and-anorak real ale types (quite an effort…) and approached the bar with guileless smiles. We were delighted to find Cotleigh Tawny Owl bitter on offer after a week choosing between Palmer’s, Palmer’s and Palmer’s, in Lyme Regis. We retired to a corner to work on our pints.
Eventually, cautious conversation resumed around us.
“I got three pairs of trainers for our Darren.”
“Adidas? Yeah, I got some of them, too. Size five.”
“And some T shirts.”
“Course, it’s got silly now, with all these scousers. One of them nicked my wheely bin, you know.”
Later that week, Billy Bragg, carrying a toilet cistern, accused us of being looters on Chesil Beach, not far from where he lives. Weird holiday.