END OF STORY

Share
My Uncle Jack is a seasonal car park attendant at a small, council- run, long-stay car park overlooking a nudist beach. The beach is an officially designated nudist beach called Pilchard Cove. Each summer, nudists from all over the country leave their cars in Uncle Jack's car park before trotting down the steep little footpath that leads down to the beach. Jack has been issuing tickets and giving change at Pilchard Cove for three successive seasons now. It would not be an exaggeration to state that although Uncle Jack is no nudist himself, his tanned, sardonic face is probably one of the best-known in the British naturist movement.

I generally go down there once or twice a year myself, to have a chat, and to give the tackle an airing. On very hot days Jack's car park is chock-a-block by 10, so I ring and let him know I'm coming and he saves me a space. I like Uncle Jack. I like him above all because he really is a car park attendant, even in his heart. Before he took the job he was retired and miserable. Now, as a car park attendant, he is back in the swim and happy. He has a reason to get out of bed. He even has a certain amount of de jure power (which he exercises in a capricious, sometimes eccentric fashion). And he has a council uniform. The uniform consists of black trousers, blue shirt, black tie, epaulettes and peaked hat. None of it is actually compulsory; but he makes a point of wearing all of it, even on the hottest of the dog days.

It might be so hot that the tarmac is melting, but Jack's hat and tie will be on, and straight, and the top button of his blue council shirt will be done up. This absurd fastidiousness is partly satirical, I believe. He's like that, is Jack. Of course another reason for his liking the job is because it gives him a splendid opportunity to enrich himself at the expense of his employers. The amount of people he lets in with a discreet little wave while I'm standing there talking to him is nobody's business. And it is telling, I think, when he says that at Christmas a significant proportion of the cards he gets comes from the naturist friends he has made over the summer.

You wouldn't guess they were from naturists though, he adds - as if naturists ought to have their own Christmas cards featuring nude Wise Men and so forth. When we chat, Jack sits on his stool in the inner sanctum of his hut, and I usually lean on a door jamb, facing in. I love Jack's hut almost as much as he does. One whiff of the sun-warmed creosote and I'm a child again.

And it is so homely inside. There is his signed photograph of Harry Redknapp; and over there, on a plain wooden shelf, are his spare ticket rolls (dinner- ticket orange), his money satchel, his unbreakable Thermos, his binoculars, and his Daily Express. There might also be on display a small bribe he has received. If he lets someone in when technically the place is full up, they very often give him a small gift as a token of their appreciation. Four tins of light ale perhaps, or a cheap but useful car accessory. Last year he passed on to me a "multi-purpose car light with flashing light facility" (batteries not included). The flashing light facility will come into its own, apparently, when I break down on the hard shoulder at night.

Unfortunately, this year when I went down to see Uncle Jack, his hut wasn't there. It had been burnt down by vandals and Jack was waiting for the council to send out a replacement. The hut had literally burnt right down to the ground, leaving only the metal frame of his stool, a charred padlock, and a neat rectangle of ashes around the concrete base, from where Jack was still resolutely issuing his tickets.

It was a stinking hot day. The policeman who came to investigate was hatless and tieless. But uncle Jack had it all on - hat, tie, epaulettes, the lot. And he was able to tell the young constable about the tip-off he'd received. The arsonists, he'd been told, belonged to a splinter group of hard-line nudists who had taken exception to his uniform. Initially the constable's hand had moved towards his notebook, but then he'd thought better of it.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd end the war on drugs

Patrick Hennessey
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'