diamond geezer

 Friday, April 06, 2012

Facing the channel, all threat of invasion long past, lies the seaside town of Hastings. It's world famous for the battle which didn't happen here, but not so fortunate that many daytrippers make the effort to visit. Terraces of tall thin houses encircle the shore, against a backdrop of grassy slopes and crags. Along the seafront there's a pebbly beach, and a main road nobody's yet sensibly diverted. The pier sticks out like a sore thumb, burnt in an arson attack two years ago and still in desperate need of restoration. Beyond the security barriers the woodwork stretches off to black remains, with a charred crescent scar burnt into the boardwalk. Nearby is the town museum, hidden where no casual tourist will ever find it, in a crenelated building surrounded by tulips. John Logie Baird is celebrated here, a local resident when he first broadcast images via his new-fangled television. Ethnic artefacts are displayed in the Durbar Hall, an amazing wood-panelled rich man's annexe, transported here from Park Lane. The town's main shopping centre is largely normal, though with rather more tattoo artists than usual. But follow the esplanade east, past gaggles of French schoolkids, and the Old Town is in complete contrast. Here are white-boarded restaurants and non-chain boutiques, frequented by a more discerning breed of shopper, while the all-pervasive smell of chips wafts up from the harbour.

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