The Beach Hut 2 (Chapters 4 – 5)

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The story of Jane continues as her three sons, David, Philip and Adrian, her daughters-in-law, Chrissie and Serena, and her grandchildren come to celebrate her birthday.

It is during the celebration that Jane announces that she will have to sell the hut. The focus of the chapter focuses on Chrissie, who is married to David, and they have three children. Chrissie couldn’t care less about the hut as she despises the Miltons. When she met David while watching the horse races, she was a seller, capable of selling anything. Chrissie is opinionated, ambitious, loud-mouthed, smokes, dresses provocatively, and curses, and from the first David’s late father didn’t like her. So she has never felt welcomed in the family as the head of the family, Graham, never wanted her for his. Yet, we learn that Graham tried to have a go at her when they came to the hut and everybody was sleeping.

When she married David, they had the children in a row, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her ambitions. So she bought a launderette at a good price and she had a booming success, and the first launderette was followed by others, making her gain a small fortune. Actually, she earns more than her husband, but she is not one to boast about it.

Now Jane’s news doesn’t sit well with her offspring. When David and Chrissie return to have a nap in their bed and breakfast, David tries to wheedle her into selling one of her launderettes so that they can buy the hut, but Chrissie won’t have any of that. They have a tremendous row, and David even threatens with a divorce, but Chrissie knows him too well and he will never leave her.

The next to have a go is Philip, David’s brother, when they are in the restaurant and they come out to have a smoke. Philip is a professor, having the brains that David wants to have an affair with her, and if the beach hut goes, they won’t be able to see each other. Chrissie is quite direct, and calls his bluff.

Next comes Serena, Philip’s wife, who is a docile woman, and she suggest the three brothers could buy Jane out of the hut. Chrissie still claims that she doesn’t care about the hut, and when she asks Serena how she will be able to afford the money to buy for the house, Serena mentions that Chrissie could give them a loan, and Chrissie just laughs.

Then Adrian, the youngest brother, approaches Chrissie when the brothers and sisters-in-law are dancing at the club. Adrian asks Chrissie to step outside with him, and she knows that they will share a spliff. Then Adrian tells her that he is sad that the beach hut has to be sold. Adrian is a single parent, and he explains that the best time of his year is when he can bring Spike here, who considers his cousins as his brothers and sisters. Adrian claims that he has to think of Spike, whose mother uses every opportunity to spite him. Chrissie feels moved by Adrian’s sincerity, and she decides to agree on what the others have failed. So she tells him not to worry and she will see to the whole thing.

When they return inside, she feels betrayed when she notices Adrian giving the thumbs-up to Serena. Then she realizes that she has been double-cross by Adrian and Serena, who she imagines are in an affair. She is furious, and I can understand her completely. Yet, it is sad that like the rest has said, the family have to lose the hut that has been theirs for fifty years. I wonder what Chrissie will do next.

Another character who we get to know is Janet, who usually hires a hut in the summer for the sandcastle competition. Janet has a disabled son who has learning difficulties after the umbilical cord was coiled round his neck during labour. Alan is slow, and that frustrated his father, who ended up leaving Janet and Alan. What Alan is brilliant at is at making sand castles, which is something he spends endless hours on. When Janet learnt about the competitition, Alan has won three years in a row as he is excellent. I find Janet a bit overwhelming and pushy as a mother. We learn that when the social worker suggested Alan could live independently so that he could learn the skills to live on his own, Janet refused. Then in the centre that Alan went three times a week, he met a girl, Rachel, and when Janet saw them holding hands once, she panicked, thinking about what that would mean for Alan. The instructors there told her that he and Rachel were close and it was sweet. Yet, Janet thought about her breaking his heart, or worse, they wanted to mate. So she took matters in her own hands and found another centre away from Rachel.

This year Rachel is afraid that Alan won’t win. In the end she is right, and the prize goes to a young couple. Alan doesn’t seem bothered by the result because I think he enjoys the experience of working the sand and being with other people other than his high-strung mother. Yet, at the end of the chapter Janet thinks she can’t go over the stress and exertion again, and they won’t come back next year. Poor Alan. I feel that this woman must be unbearably controlling, and he must find it difficult to breathe freely without her.

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