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Low water now and the motley of crabbers

is crammed towards the end of the pier,

leaving space for a merry metaphor

of our times, Uncle Tacko’s Flea Circus,

with its innuendo and innocence,

its knowingness and charm, its vaudeville

of outrageous unnuanced half-truths,

its charivari of anachronisms.


The Bulkeley Hotel on the front (once

a private mansion of many rooms)

and the stone terrace of late Georgian

town houses in this holiday resort

speak of its erstwhile strategic value.

The servants in the yards would beat the fleas

from the covers, the curtains and the carpets.


Nobody takes home the crabs they catch.

The seabed surrounding the pier’s stanchions

is littered with the plastic detritus

of crabbing – nets, lines, bait bags of offal.

In dreams mottled crabs are manoeuvring

to the tops of the buckets, and scuttling

across the planks seawards.



Note: Uncle Tacko’s Flea Circus –

© Copyright David Selzer
3 Responses
  • Ged Hayes
    February 21, 2019

    Loved it not least because we once stayed in the Bulkeley Hotel.

  • John Huddart
    March 25, 2019

    Opens up a new world of fun and irony!

  • Pat Rogerson
    April 25, 2019

    Many a windy day has been spent crabbing off the pier with squeals from the grandchildren as they try to capture the escaping crabs. One day we may manage a warm sunny day!!

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