A bracing breeze from the wide river reaches blustered over the sea wall. From the boat yard, the hoists on a myriad yacht masts whistled their wind driven tunes and clanged their chaotic tympany. In the car park, a small group gathered, anticipating the arrival of… the Bar’N’Bus.
At 7.30pm precisely, the garishly grafittied juggernaut rolled into the Grays Beach car park, with a beaming Gary Jones at the helm. He carefully parked it up at the far end, and the new team clambered on board for their first night.
Operations Manager Stuart Christian took them through the set up basics, and in a short time the generator was on, the kettles were boiling, and the PS2s were ready for action. A few prayers were said and a few scriptures shared, and the team were ready for action.
First visitors, however, were the three local Community Policing Team Officers, who came to show their support of the project. Cups of tea and coffee were had, along with a slice each of masterchef Len Stockwell’s superbly light and morish Lemon Drizzle Cake!
Our first young people to come on board were a group of three boys. They showed great interest in the Bar’N’Bus, with lots of questions about the grafitti on the outside, and a brief go on the PS2s. They had to go, because they were all wanted back at their homes – but promised to return next week with their friends.
A couple of girls fresh from football traning came on as well, and a young man from Kurdistan who was celebrating his birthday.
Finally, one of the original members of Thurrock’s first Bar’N’Bus team at Blackshots, Lee Mullen, turned up on his motorbike. Now a curate in the Chelmsford area, his serendiptous appearance and encouragement did us all good.
The debrief and prayers at the end of the evening showed that everyone had felt the low-key start to be a success, and they were all ready for more next week.
By now, the darkness had closed in, the freshness of the gusts had grown a little stronger, and the team made their way back to their various homes, to warm cups of cocoa, videoed Champions League semi-finals, and soft mattresses…