At the End of the Day

Over the years, one by one, all those posh-sounding English south-coast resorts have been proved to be – once I’d visited them – completely bogus. Bognor Regis may well have been George V’s favourite spot for dipping into the waves, but today it is an unutterably scruffy, unprepossessing place.

Weymouth may conjure up images of elegant Edwardian decadence, but on a summer’s afternoon in 2012 it is largely populated by uncovered women covered in tattoos and babies. Their menfolk are either absent, or looking vacant.

Littlehampton – whose name used to put me in mind of the Daily Express cartoon flapper Maudie Littlehampton – is an eyesore.

But there are two notable exceptions. Christchurch remains the very epitome of older genteel Englishness living cheek by jowl with stylish marina-wealth. And Worthing – a real surprise this one – is a seductive blend of contemporary apartment-block design and Georgian terraces.

The traffic everywhere, however, is horrendous – and more than enough to remind me how overcrowded we are as a country. One longs for the endless, empty kilometres of French autoroutes.

I stopped off in Lyndhurst for lunch at a good pub there. The landlord is the most uncanny Tony Blair doppelganger you will ever meet. Even his manner is similar. I wonder if he’s been cultivating it.

I’m staying with a chum in Uckfield tonight. In his loo is a 2010 copy of the Viz classic Roger’s Profanisaurus. Some of the cockney rhyming slang remains hysterically funny -  my own particular favourite being A crock of Douglas – for Douglas Hurd/Turd.

Marvellous stuff.

 

23 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. Add the ‘English Riviera’ to your list if I may. Torquay – famous for little apart from being the place where a penniless Ronnie Briggs was arrested – was that place across the bay from Brixham (where I grew up) which represented all sorts of ungodliness and sleaze. Apparently the tide went out once and couldn’t be bothered to come back in …

    • Caractacus: “Torquay – famous for little apart from being the place where a penniless Ronnie Briggs was arrested”

      That and a certain hotel made famous by the BBC in the 1970′s……..

  2. I do wonder at people describing Britain as “overcrowded”. Hmmm …

    If any of you have visited the Netherlands, you will have realized that architectural styles lean towards the brutal. The Dutch are anything but subtle. Traffic, too is incredible. Our motorway, the A12 (an extension of the one we travelled to Austria on) is now six lanes, leading to 14 (?) around Utrecht. On a weekday evening, it is usually nose-to-tail between the A27 and Driebergen or Maarn. It is the same story for the A28. Add a bus and train service that most Brits would give their right arms for, and you can begin to imagine the floods of people being disgorged from Utrecht and Amsterdam when shutting offices.

    Perhaps some balance between nations like the Netherlands and not so far off France would not come amiss? The dog-eat-dog of the bottom line precludes such spreading out of opportunities and wealth.

    • I left the UK nearly 40 years ago because it was too crowded. Don’t suppose its got any better. Now I live in a rainforest in Oz (yes, there is such a thing), and my nearest neighbour is 5 kms away. I have a little B&B and have had European guests flee in terror at the silence and darkness on nights where there is no moon. I love it here and would definitely describe the UK as “overcrowded”.

      • Paul

        I grew up in Rhodesia, and a quieter and more beautiful place you cannot imagine. Okay, so you can, right where you are, right?

        Well done on finding paradise. It is a nice place to live. I would be standing out there with you on those deeply quiet nights. They are truly awesome.

        The point I was trying to make about overcrowding is that the UK is not the most overcrowded part of the planet. The professor below ably pastes data from Wikipedia without any further insight, and proves the point neatly.

    • Holland (as opposed to all of the NL) is organised like that because 4 or 5 small cities – A’dam, Utrecht, Den Haag, Delft etc – are connected by train and highway to create the Ringstadt, ie Ring City, organised around a ‘green heart’ at the centre. The opposite of London with its surrounding green belt.
      Following the discovery of north sea gas in the 1990s, the money was invested in Dutch infrastructure, particularly new highways, with huge ring roads and flyovers around relatively small towns, ie Maastricht, Venlo. They also built many new suburbs and ‘villages’.
      The stupid thing about the ringstadt highways, and the reason they are so congested, is that they neglected to build connecting backroads between existing villages and the new towns. To get from a farm to the next village, or from one village to another, you use the highway.

      • Having lived in the bustling (and very pretty) city of Utrecht, I can attest to the things you say. Whilst Utrecht is not in Holland as such it forms a part of the Randstad.

        In my experience, the little backroads you mention are there. Take Houten and Schalkwijk – it is connected but people travel by the motorway as you say. It puzzles me. Perhaps it is because they all have Tom Toms and no abonnement for the traffic jams?

    • Overcrowded..?
      I always wonder how and why you see things differently from the facts..
      Netherlands is the 24th most crowded sovereign territory in the world, quoted at 496 people /km2.
      The UK comes in at 52nd place with 256 people /km2.
      Bus and train is second to none in southern England, I won’t look up the comparison, but I work in Netherlands and frequently miss the connection due to incompetent timekeeping of the advertised services.

      • Professor, could you read my comments with the care with which they were written. Your obvious intelligence leads you to misinterpret the things I say.

        I am very pleased to hear that the UK has finally sorted out its major rail problems in the South East. However, since you take the train in the Netherlands, however late they are, there is usually another along in 15 minutes according to the timetables for rush-hour in the Randsteden.

    • …and none of you have mentioned post-Olympic London.
      For a month or so before the Big Event roadworks were banned or suspended. And, given Bojo’s hysterical and repeated messages aimed at London natives that they should work at home, give up travel and/or flee the metroplex altogether – moving about London was quite pleasant again, with traffic at 1950 levels.
      But now it’s all over they are just extracting the urine. EVERY road, and I mean every road linking anything to anywhere in London, is coned off, dug up or blocked off for no apparent reason. Buses are taking 50% longer than pre Olympic ‘normal’ times to reach their destinations. Thank the fairies at the bottom of the garden that the Overground and Underground lines are more or less in shape other than weekend ‘upgrading’ works. But try driving from A to B! Hopeless.
      Mostly these days, and with a ‘freedom’ pass in my wallet, I leave the car at home. Scythable grass frequently grows between its wheels between excursions – and that’s on a London street! But when needs must I dread getting into the driver’s seat to visit, for example, friends or rellies north or south of the M25. It’s worst of all at weekends of course. Then they leave the existing road-works coned off and set up hundreds of additional 2-day jobbies like resurfacing or traffic light modifications. These totally uncoordinated blockages completely screw up any chance of going from A to B unless via C, J, Q and W at a pace which would make the proverbial snail look like Toad in a Porsche on an autobahn.
      And, from the experience of the last couple of weeks, it seems that even this miserable state of affairs is worsened by Plod raking in the bunce on weekend double-bubble – blue and white tape everywhere – even more streets blocked off for inexplicable reasons (and I’ve found it impossible in these situations, getting anything sensible about what IS going on out of PC 49, the Plod-on-the-spot, let alone Knacker of the Yard). Haven’t had chance to find out what the hell they’re doing – raids on Friends of Abu Hansa? Drug raids suspended for pc (not PC) reasons during the ‘Summer of Sport’? Lots of people chucking themselves off rooftops in the depressive hungover depths after the highs of Olympic-induced euphoria? Can’t tell you – but the Bluebottles are definitely swarming all over the place.
      Any info JW??
      I think we should be told!!

  3. Viz was is an wil remain 5-star. 8-Ace, Pathetic Sharks, Raffles The Gentleman Thug, Drunken Bakers, Brilliant.

    My favourte was droped some years ago (although he made a cameo in the last edition) – Paul Whicker The Tall Vicar.

  4. So far as I can tell, I live in the Best Country In The World

    There are major cultural differences between the USA and England, which most Americans may not understand – Like Public and Private Schools and Ordinary schools which my Wife and I went to, as did our Children.

    The main difference is that our Ordinary schools have both Boys and Girls…

    So my wife and I were doing what we often do on a beautiful day….

    We saw the sign, but were going there anyway…

    At the gate we were welcomed by these two immaculately dressed young RAF Officers…

    Me with my long blonde hair and my Hindu T-Shirt and my wife looking completely beautiful in the sunshine with her plastic box and hippy coat to collect Blackberries in the Countryside…

    And we both went Wow,,,,and we were invited in….

    Later today..we went to see a Reggae band in our local pub, that we knew,,but were also invited to a 50th Birthday Party – who we didn’t know…

    Now jumble all this stuff up the times and everything – and the people and all…

    There was nowt to choose between them…

    Sure the music varied a bit….

    And Yes we have seen AC/DC do “She’s Got The Jack”

    But we had never seen this Band do AC/DC ” I’ve Got The Jack”

    And come though the entire Audience with this Enormous Bottle of Jack Daniels…

    I mean that was Sheer Class..

    Tony

  5. John; you have yet to savour the delights of Newhaven, Seaford, St Leonards, Hastings et al. All way beyond awful. How is it the the French towns on their coast are all proud, primmed and desirable places to live and ours seem to be Basket-Cases-on-Sea ?

  6. JW, you should see Worthing on a Friday when the sun has gone down and all the young take over the town centre. It’s HELL on Earth, drunkeness everywhere, people urinating in shop doorways, police in pairs every few metres, fighting, incredibly loud music, it’s truly awful. Littlehampton maybe an eyesore but, it isn’t quite as bad as Worthing on a Friday night, not yet anyway!
    It’s a travesty really, we have a fabulous river (Arun) beaches, both West and East and they still can’t improve the place. Elton John tried to buy the West bank on the River Arun many years ago but, the local council wouldn’t let him. I was good friends with Anita Roddick (when she was poor and a socialist) I know that she tried to improve things but, was thwarted at every turn. Many years ago a close friend attended a council meeting where they were publicly discussing an application for an M&S in the town, one well known councillor stood up and said “The people of Littlehampton do not want a Marks and Spencer in the town” that was the end of the matter. There are many rumours surrounding the endemic corruption in the top layers of Arun District Council, I of course have no knowledge of whether or not there is any truth in these allegations.

    • kfc,

      Bexhill is clearly the antithesis of Worthing. I swear the Pied-Piper has been through the town and enticed all the young folk away.
      THere is a local saying : Bexhill where people come to retire – and then forget to die………

  7. Going to the seaside at all is still a massive treat for some people. I think the Sun holidays are good because at least people who haven’t got very much money can have a few days at the seaside. I had a Sun holiday given to me when I was really broke a few years ago, and it was at Borth in Wales, and we had a really great time, we saw the petrified forest on the beach, and it was a lovely rest for the eyes looking at the sea rather than all the dusty concreteness of Handsworth.

  8. Lymington is up there in the reckoning – surrounded by the New Forest…and the yacht marina… but don’t try driving in on anything approaching a sunny day or you will give up the will to live before you get as far as Lyndhurst. There is an opening here for Barclays to badge up the New Forest ponies and call them Boris donkeys…

  9. Other memorable Profanisauruses: ‘Picasso Arse’, being the appearance too-tight knickers give of the wearer having four buttocks; and ‘Dragon’s Nostril’, a consequence of hot curry.

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