It is pirate day today and I had the dubious pleasure of taking a car ride along the sea front with a friend who was actually born here. Driving past a sea of Johny Depp clones, we both looked on in horror as everything that we passed had been twisted into some strange parody of Pirates of the Caribbean. We both agreed that it was great for the kids, unfortunately most of the people we saw were my age or older.
I have actually lost count now of all the many festivals, parties, fayres, events and whathaveyous there are around the area but I am starting to get pretty sick of it all. Granted, everywhere has its thing, some traditional event that gives it a bit of character but it’s as if hereabouts is like some obnoxious greedy child that has grabbed the sweets, jelly, ice cream and fizzy pop that was meant for everyone.
When I moved to Hastings, what I liked about it was that it was a shabby, run down, seaside town, I could live quietly amongst the bungled and the botched and get on with making art. Now it’s as if the whole town has done the biggest, fattest, line of coke and is off on one in the most grandiose of manners trying to turn itself into something quite different and, like most raging cokeheads, it is getting unbearable to be around and the way it is being done is a complete disaster.
How things got this bad I am really not sure but I suspect that the bulk of the problem is down to the influx of the Down From London crowd and their inability to leave things be (I can say that as I am down from London), there is an assumption that what everyone needs is a constant slew of things to do, not really realising that what most people want to do is to be left alone. That’s a hard one to prove though to those who don’t have a life as you are essentially trying to point to those that aren’t there rather than the crowd of a couple of dozen usual suspects who alway are. With a population of some 80, ooo people it may be easier to imagine one double decker bus filled with attention seekers, nuisance makers and patronising busybodies parked in the middle of the pitch at a conspicuously empty Wembley Stadium, only then would they see how unwelcome their activities truly are compared to those that would rather they sod off.
It works well for some people, if you are an attention seeker who likes to dress up or a raging alcoholic who loves getting pissed during the day with no one caring and if your life has no real momentum and you have nothing better to do than just drifting from one knees up to the next conducting life amongst a series of shallow nodding aquaintences then it must be utterly wonderful. To anyone over the age of twenty who doesn’t have small children to entertain and isn’t in the throes of a midlife crisis it is all just a massive pain in the arse.
I’ve been trying to ascertain what exactly the local industry is for Hastings and St Leonards, everywhere has its prime purpose, being its major employer or something it is famous for making. From what I can gather, apart from a slew of dismal call centres, punting insurance, the only thing that seems to happen, is people showing off and turning alcohol into piss. As neither the armaments industry or the natural dyeing industries no longer use piss to the extent that they used to, then that leaves us with the show offs as the only resource left to exploit for profit.
I have been thinking back to Chuck Palanuic’s novel Choke which was set in a historical theme park, where everyone spent every day pretending that they were back in the days of America still being an English colony and was wondering if that was the way to go. There are so many people around who love to dress up, who love to show off their limited talents, that want to be seen and marvelled at and lavished with constant attention, so what better than turn the place into a demented version of Disneyland?
Whilst all those of a narcistic bent flaunts their outfits and do their best attempt at acts that would be ridiculed on the first few episodes of the X factor or Britains got Talent, it would finally give the rest of us a chance to actually profit from their constant and irritating presence in all the ancillary industries, the merchandising and production of memorabilia, the car parking, the service industries, the admin and accounting. With the right marketing everything that has become so wrong here could finally work for everyone else. Heaven knows, it it about time they were useful at something.