I was sitting on the terrace contemplating the cluster of houses perched precariously on the cliff face when two hefty workmen strode into the tea room looking rather incongruous amongst the buckets, spades and sunhats.
‘The usual?’ asked the pleasant faced lady behind the counter.
‘Aye; that’ll be fine luv,’ replied the one with the baseball cap. He joined his bald-headed companion at the wooden table next to mine.
Normally this is a quiet, lazy Yorkshire bay, ideal for writing or watching fishing boats dragging in their lobster nets, but this particular summer it had been a hive of activity. The old sea wall had finally given up its battle against the pounding waves and was being replaced with granite boulders quarried in Norway and shipped over on barges. At low tide a huge crane picked them up, dropped them on to tipper trucks before being tipped into position.
It was clear from the workmen’s conversation that they were truck drivers.
‘He really fancies himself in that crane,’ grumbled baseball cap.
‘Aye, you’d think ‘e was the Managing Director,’ shaven head agreed.
‘And have you seen the inside of that crane of his? It’s posher than my living room. He’s even got a fitted carpet.’
Shaven head snorted in contempt. ‘According to the lads ‘e had had the JCB scrape a six inch hole outside his cab door which he’s filled with water so ‘e can clean his boots ‘afore getting into his cab.’
‘Never in this world!’
There was silence as they drank their mugs of tea. I couldn’t resist peering over the balcony and was delighted to see the man himself jump out of his crane cab with an air of importance. He swaggered up the hill towards the café.
‘Ten-thirty,’ said shaven head with a sigh. ‘Best be off ‘afore ‘e has a go at us.’
‘Aye,’ Baseball cap caught my eye as he rose to his feet.
‘Shame that hole he jumps in isn’t a foot deeper,’ I remarked in an attempt to hide my embarrassment at having been listening to their conversation.
‘You’re right there,’ he said with a laugh.
As it happens, I was there the following morning to finish off my story. But, as if on some pre-arranged signal, I found myself peering over the balcony towards the crane. At ten-thirty prompt the man jumped out of his crane but his swagger this morning was more like an ungainly roll. It wasn’t until he entered the café that I noticed his boots squelched and his trousers were soaked up to the thighs.
I turned away to hide my grin only to find baseball cap and shaven head on the rocks below me convulsed in laughter. Seeing me peering over the balcony, baseball cap gave me the thumbs up.
‘Nice one missus!’