Tell A Tale in 500 Words

Pensioner attacked in Sedlow Sands By Samantha Dordoy

The victim was walking in the Docklands area of Sedlow at around 8pm when she was approached by two men.

The men punched the lady in the face before making off with £20 and her watch.

Sedlow made national headlines earlier this week when it was reported to be the worst area in the country for violent crime.

Police are appealing for witnesses. Anyone with information is asked –

And here the journalist stops, his fingers drumming on the edge of his keyboard. “Not enough words,” he says aloud, and sighs. It is late, and there are deep hollows underneath his eyes, and a half-empty glass of wine rests on the table beside him.

The young man opens his notebook and flicks through the pages, irritably. His shorthand holds only the briefest details. Fifty words, he had thought – a news-in-brief, easy, until his editor told him the other article had been pulled. Closing his eyes, he places his pen on the page and tries to recall the interview.

Speaking to our journalist, the victim said…

“They say Sedlow’s full of smackheads, but it ain’t.”

A wide, golden beach under a blue sky, spattered with pebbles and dark clumps of seaweed dragged in by the tide. Raucous gulls screaming over a disputed find. That tiny shanty chalet, looking out over it all.

Once, for post-war city families, it had been a seaside paradise, explained the old lady. She sat with her hands folded in a little armchair in the corner. A clutter of doilies, commemorative plates and sepia photographs filled the room. The journalist stood awkwardly with notepad in hand, worrying about his car outside.

“It used to look different,” she said. “Nothing burnt down or broken up. You’d meet all the same holiday people year after year, lovely people. Then they made the beach safe with that new wall and the water not coming over, but we lost all the nice view going down the steps. People stopped coming.”

The houses are all one-storey, their walls a faded Neapolitan ice-cream of dirty white, blanched salmon, lemon, brown. Weeds flood them, rusted cars litter the worn streets. Youths in dark jackets swirl around the abandoned shops and overgrown playgrounds.

And the crime? he had asked, trying to get the conversation back on track.

“Oh, it’s all silly, bitty things,” she says. “We all know who’s doing it. It’s those new residents they’ve let come in, with the drugs and the drink – it’s not Sedlow. It’ll pass.”

He had stared at her then, her mottled black eye, her white hair, her frame wrapped and wrapped against the cold. “It’s like a time warp here,” she said gently. “And it won’t last forever, they’ll run it into the ground then knock it down for profit. But all the lovely people, who came here when Bill and I did, are here still, and I got the birds, and the fresh air. For now, what more can you want? You'd pay a million to be here.”

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