Holiday – Edited Highlights

Which I really need to commit to words while I can still remember any of it.

GORLESTON – Marvellous, sunny day, spent lounging on the front, promenading along the cliff tops and along the jetty, standing and watching the craft sail by. I also went for a long paddle, the first of the year (and probably the last). Paddling at Gorleston is something of an annual ritual for me, marking the official start of Pete’s summer, and usually I get to it somewhat earlier in the year, but frankly 2012 has been singularly disappointing on the sunshine front.

YARMOUTH IN THE EVENING – Lots going on, with the Golden Mile all aglow and people parading its length, in and out of the various amusement arcades, up and down the two piers. A long stretch along the nearly deserted beach, then standing in the dark and watching the glow of the ship lights on the horizon, listening to the waves crash on the sand and feeling the breeze gently ruffle my hair. Round the Pleasure Beach, smiling at the people having fun, and happy memories of the childhood of yesteryear induced by a visit to Joyland (oh how I loved that place when I was a kid). A band playing in the gardens attached to the Sea Life Centre, everybody shouting and waving arms and dancing (everybody except me – I am a gentleman of a certain age, and I have my dignity to maintain). And then fireworks spraying their incandescence across the night sky. Kaboom!

LOWESTOFT – Disappointing weather after a brief but glorious sunny interlude, with the sky overcast and a desultory rain late in the afternoon. Not really beach weather, so I wandered up into the old part of town, where I was delighted to find a novel by Nicholson Baker in a discount bookshop, and then on through the Sparrow’s Nest Gardens to the wilds of North Denes and a stony beach. I decided to explore, going off into the dunes and then the forest that lay behind them, which reminded me of Shipdham plantation where I used to play as a child. Dug in along the treeline were relics from WW2, a half submerged concrete bunker and the ruins of a gun emplacement. I believe the Sparrow’s Nest is supposed to be the most easterly point in mainland Britain, and so I could well have been one of the most easterly people in the country at the time, an achievement that is not to be sniffed at. Certainly I would have been in the top hundred. I sat on a bench in the Gardens and watched young parents and their children dance on the greensward below while a man sat in the centre of an open air stage and played show tunes on an organ.

YARMOUTH IN THE DAY – Lots of wandering around and looking at things, eating stuff and buying cheap DVDs, but one event eclipses everything else. While sheltering from a sudden downpour under the Britannia Pier I discovered an inscription written on a couple of the beams holding up the structure – ‘Listen to the sounds of the shell and the deep sea diver will appear’. I looked round for a shell but couldn’t find one that seemed to fit the bill, which was a pity as I would have really liked to have had an encounter with a deep sea diver. Maybe next time.

KING’S LYNN – Again, the weather was disappointing, but it didn’t matter all that much as it was a day for taking in art shows. The King’s Lynn Arts Festival had finished the week before, and some of the exhibitions were hanging around and crying out for attention. The best of the bunch was at the Arts Centre, where a couple of the galleries were devoted to Alla Moda, an exhibition of Italian ceramics from the 1950s-70s. I’m a slight art snob and, Grayson Perry aside, usually regard ceramics as craftwork rather than fine art, but this show really opened my eyes, with some stunning work on display and such wonderful use of colour and form. I wanted to be a billionaire, so I could buy it all and take it home with me, to get out and drool over whenever I wished. Something of a more modern bent with the 3: 4: All show at Greyfriars Art Space, and several of the pieces impressed me a lot, especially a sculpture of a sort of demonic fairy perched on a mushroom, the bulb of which was painted a lurid red, though possibly purists would reject such work. Finally I had to track down St Nicholas’ Chapel for an exhibition by the West Norfolk Artist Association. It was years since I last visited the Chapel, to attend a classical music concert, and I had vague memories of a building that seemed positively Lovecraftian, but in the event memory must have played me false, as it was in a different part of town and nothing like what I remembered. The show was decent enough, though with quite a few chocolate box lid paintings, work that was technically fine but showing little imagination, pleasant to look at but in the main forgettable unless you have some emotional link with the subject matter. One piece has stayed with me though, a pencil drawing of a woman unravelling the corset she is wearing, though it appears she is also unravelling her own body in the process, which rather put me in mind of the work of Chris Achilleos.


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4 Responses to Holiday – Edited Highlights

  1. Andrew Hook says:

    Do you remember the monkey at Joyland, Pete? Sometimes I think that’s a false memory.

    • petertennant says:

      Do you mean when they had the ark, and there was a monkey in a cage when you entered it, with the room moving up and down and distorting mirrors on the walls? I used to love the old Joyland ark, with the secret rooms down inside the mountain.

      Years ago there was a photographer on Regent St with a monkey, and I still have a photo of me as a kid holding the monkey and smiling for the camera. Then when we walked away we discovered the bloody thing had peed down the front of my jumper.

      • Andrew Hook says:

        Absolutely – the one in the ark. It seemed a magical place at the time!

        And that’s monkeys for you 🙂

  2. petertennant says:

    The ark was definitely magical, with the massive train layout and the grotto where you walked across on stepping stones. I used to love that place. The green, phallic shaped mountain with its aerial train ride is not a fitting replacement.

    Getting pissed on by monkeys was good preparation for becoming a reviewer 😉

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