Another Sandcastle And A Different Robot

When he saw the title of a Dabbler post earlier this week, Frank Key found himself whisked back into the past…

They were just three words, but when I read them on Monday, a childhood memory came flooding back in vivid detail. Sandcastle And Robot, wrote Daniel Kalder… sandcastle and robot… sandcastle and robot….

All of a sudden I was six years old. We were on holiday, at the seaside, en famille, sur la plage… there is a reason why I lapsed into French. For I remember, as if it were yesterday, planting a paper flag atop the highest point of my – admittedly cack-handed – sandcastle when, emerging from the sea on to the sand there came a robot. It was huge, whirring and clanking, like a robot in a 1950s B-movie. It was plodding relentlessly towards my sandcastle. And it was a French robot.

I knew it was French because when it came and stamped my sandcastle flat under its thumping magnetic feet, it made a grating metallic noise of unmistakeable Gallic contempt. Small and spindly, I sprang at it and beat my tiny fists against its hard, shiny panels. I bruised my knuckles on a rivet and burst into tears. The robot clanked onwards, towards an ice cream kiosk.

The sun was shining and the waves sloshed against the sand. I sat, weeping and trembling, my morning’s work undone by a big French metal automaton. The joys of my childhood holiday lay in tatters, never to be regained. I had learned a hard lesson.

Curiously, no one else in my family witnessed this tragedy. Neither my papa nor my mama, nor my siblings, nor my aunts and uncles, nor the dozens of cousins there with us that day had any idea what I was babbling about as I wailed my tale of woe. They claimed I must have been daydreaming. Urgently, with a quivering rivet-bruised hand, I pointed towards the ice cream kiosk, over on the promenade near the bandstand and the pavilion… but the French robot had already passed on, clutching a choc ice from the kiosk in its big metal hand, making its implacable progress into the town, and beyond, on to the Downs, to harrow and ravage everything in its path.

The following day my game of crazy golf was disrupted by a giant plodding whirring clanking Belgian robot, but I cannot quite recall how that panned out.

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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

6 thoughts on “Another Sandcastle And A Different Robot

  1. Worm
    February 17, 2012 at 11:00

    Foreign robots, coming over here, stealing our icecreams…

    February 17, 2012 at 12:36

    Treens gave me nightmares, the Mekon gave me daymares, liitle Venusian swine, floating about four feet from the ground. Sprog No1 had an invisible friend ‘Walbalbin’ used to swim with him in the sea. 20 years later all was revealed, the instigator was Lloyd Bridges in that south seas deep sea diver outfit, the one with the big helmet.

  3. Brit
    February 17, 2012 at 13:50

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you just don’t get this kind of stuff anywhere else.

    …Um, except for at Hooting Yard of course, where today you can phone in to say what you think is behind this story…

    February 17, 2012 at 18:07

    This would make an amazing graphic novel.

    February 18, 2012 at 01:02

    And the day after that, one of Theo Janson’s Dutch Strandbeest trampled you while you were sunbathing?

    February 19, 2012 at 11:56

    Isn’t it about time Rammstein employed Mr Key as co-lyricist?

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