I Can’t Tell You His Name

In my mind, it was one of the coolest things I’ve seen.

I can’t tell you his name, or if this is something he does regularly, but it topped off perhaps one of the most perfect days in my life.

Having a birthday on New Years Eve is a bit of a gift. Everyone’s ready to party, and there’s usually a day off to recover the next day (discount this notion if you have children under the age of six). My day had begun with breakfast in bed and a beautiful card from G and the children, they announced with big smiles that they’d scheduled a massage at the eco village just down the road. I hadn’t had a massage in years, the birthday could have ended there and I would have been ecstatic. We went to the beach, swam, I had my massage, and then we headed out to a grown up lunch.

Our table was outside, looking down the cliff face and over the beach. I was surrounded by good mates and family, and although we’d been to the restaurant many times before, we all gasped when we got outside. It was spectacular. Umbrellas were adjusted for sunshine, the children were happy and safe at home, and then the waitress let me know a friend had rang and organized a bottle of wine. The day really couldn’t have got much better.

As we nibbled on our starters, we all picked out activities that were happening on the beach below us. Two children had semi buried an exercise ball and were now using it as a trampoline. A group of boys were playing a game of beach cricket, while families wandered between the shallow water and their tents.

It was my girlfriend Cath who first noticed him. He began to draw in the sand. Initially we weren’t sure what it was, but it became obvious that it was a big project. Some-one suggested it looked like a map of Australia.  He was to far away for us to ask questions, so we asked ourselves. We provided our own narration on the points and gulfs as he created them. Jokes were made about Tasmania, but he didn’t forget, it arrived at the end, a full stop. He stood back to admire his work, wrote three words in the middle of the map, and then disappeared.

“What does it say?”

None of us could make it out from a distance.

We watched people approach. One by one as they wandered by, they’d stop, smile, and begin to write. Some-one chose the top left corner, others went to the right. My girlfriend Cath couldn’t contain herself any longer.

“That’s it. I have to go down and see what it says” and like the true journalist that she is, she went off to gather the facts.

We giggled as we watched her run across the beach, she looked up towards us and gave us the thumbs up and immediately began to write. She moved to six different spots, before she made her way back to us.

“Well, what did it say?” we asked in unison.


And in that moment we all grinned and looked back towards the map, the grin that comes with the warmth of the smallest display of humanity. Every singular activity happening on the beach became one giant map of togetherness. Who are you? Where are you from? Come sign the book and find out about everyone else.

I fully intend to steal the idea. I will be creating beach guest books wherever I can this year, but in the meantime I wondered if you’d indulge me for a moment. I know so many of you prefer to lurk, you tap in here and tap out, and I completely understand why it’s easier not to comment. I’ll fess up, I do it myself elsewhere. But today, if you have a minute, can you sign my guestbook?

Who are you? Where are you from?


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