We all know that piers occupy a curious position in the English psyche. These seaside protuberances jutting out from windswept beaches and simultaneously conjuring up images of promenading Victorians and working-class seaside humour. Many have fallen now into irrelevance and/or disrepair, and in a high number of cases they’re also in the process of falling into the sea itself, to exist only in sepia postcards and folk memory.
This is Hastings pier on a crisp Spring morning. You’ll note the crumbling structure and, no doubt, think that here is another wreck about to, at best, disappear. But, you would be wrong.
The pier was built in 1872 and was a venue into the 1960s but closed in 2006. A fire a few years later destroyed most of what was left. Plans to rebuild and reopen came and went. But, thanks to the good work of the good people at the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust a grant has been obtained from the Heritage Lottery Fund and with further public support the pier may be restored to life as soon as 2015. The BBC reports that the first planks to reboard it have already been laid.
It could very well be that this photo showing a sad, burnt out, ruin is the one that will link to people’s fading memories. I can cope with that but I wonder what the future for this pier will be: genteel promenaders or a selection of gags about pricking his boil. Or something in between?
More info about the pier charity is here.
Daventry Town used to play in black and white at a non-descript ground called Elderstubbs. Now, without moving, they wear all-purple at a modern thing called Communications Park. They are also sponsored by something called shebang.net. Welcome to non league football on the edge of understanding.
AFC Hayes didn’t used to be AFC Hayes. And they are not Hayes & Yeading United either. The latter play in Woking after all although one half of the merged entity had previously been called Hayes FC. No, AFC Hayes were, until 2007, Brook House FC. Apparently there’s a nice pub in Hayes called The Brookhouse. I don’t know if they’re connected because google won’t tell me.
Anyway, this was a match where one team beat another 3-0 without a single goal requiring an attacking pass. Penalty, direct free kick straight in and potential own-goal tapped over the line – that was how the scoring went. The first two led to two yellow cards for one unlucky sod meaning that AFC Hayes had only ten men to look thoroughly grumpy by the end.
I took along a grandfather and a grandson (I was the middle generation). And a camera which produced these pictures.
It’s one of the great stories of European soccer. Bangor City taking on Napoli in the European Cup Winners Cup and if such a thing as the away goals rule had existed they would have been victorious. A 2-0 win at home and a 3-1 loss away. But, sadly and gloriously, the game went to a play-off. At Arsenal. And it was Napoli who won that game 2-1. Oh, the humanity.
Thirty-odd years after the heady days of 1962, I had the pleasure of going to Farrar Road to watch the Mighty Black & Greens of Aber Town go down without much heroism 5-1. It seemed that every single Bangor fan wanted to tell us how they’d been there to see the boys in blue tilt at the giants of Europe. Which was nice.
And now, here is the Pathe evidence of that extra leg. Football from a bygone era is always charming and I especially like that the English commentary repeatedly calls the team Naples. It did make me wonder when we started calling them by their proper name. It’s not like we routinely miss off the ‘s’ of Paris St Germain or talk about Bayern Muenchen.
Anyway, video …
Men keep their strength in their hair, in a woman’s hair you will find her dreams. Such was one of the recurring messages of this rather beautiful and engaging modern fairy tale from author Eoin McNamee.
Set in a harsh Irish port and focusing on a lone, and potentially lonely, girl Lorna and her friendships initially with two town drunks Mervyn and Sandra and then with potential Latvia witch (and definite hairdresser) Sarah, North of Riga was everything a good radio drama should be. The story could not have worked in any other medium, the voice characterisation was spot on, and the creation of the bitter cold as winter rolled in was effective and shiver-generating. I liked the repeated motifs of “Dear Lorna” and the listing of “one for …, two for …”
Special mention also to Amybeth McNulty who played the character of Lorna. The thirteen year old girl whose mummy is ‘too busy’ to look after her and who must be different people to the enquiring social services, the bewildered adults and the tempting coiffeuse.
The resolution neatly brought together the fairy-tale elements and the apparently real and we were left with as satisfying a forty-five minute radio play as you are likely to hear. Well worth checking out on the iPlayer where it’s drama of the week, or waiting for a Radio 4 Extra repeat.
Those who the gods wish to destroy they first send on an 800 mile round trip. Morpeth Town must be wondering exactly which of the inhabitants of Olympus they’d annoyed as this match was lost for them within about a minute of the opening. That’s how long it took for a melee to break out, the only conceivable outcome of which was a red card for the instigator. Sadly for the visitors that was a man dressed in red – a colour that became too apt for the men from the northeast as, embarrassingly, they deservedly finished their Vase run with eight men on the pitch as frustration gave way to recklessness as their dream of glory ebbed away.
There was some football which was just as well as this was my younger son’s first taste of live soccer. He loved it. Backing ‘the whites’ (Eastbourne United Association FC) he got to cheer goals for them at regular intervals as a 4-0 half time lead became a 6-1 rout. He also got a giant hot dog and a Twix. I wouldn’t like to say what he enjoyed most or what he’ll actually remember. The only memory I have of my first game is two number fours jumping for the same ball – but that match finished 0-0 and my dad ranks it amongst the worst he’s ever seen. I didn’t get a Twix.
In between explaining what was going on, toilet runs, food stops and general distractedness I did manage to take some pictures. They are here.
Eastbourne now get to call themselves FA Vase Quarter Finalists which is something they could last do 35 years ago – which actually just predates my first live football match so I don’t need to feel too old yet. If the next game attracts an equal interest amongst the immortals they may yet reach the semi final and beyond that lies the promised land of Wembley. It’s just crazy enough to come true.
My thanks to the Guardian for this one. Arnau Oriol’s series of people captured, presumably, on their way to and from work – or at least caught going by on public transport in the rush hour.
There are plenty of people whose work it brings to mind – Dryden Goodwin, Tom Wood for two – but what I like here is the toning and composition, which is consistent across the all the images. The drawing out of a single head amidst darkness, not being afraid of blur or window mess and distortion, and an old-style filmic feel (I don’t know if this is digital or film incidentally). There’s a style here that works well for the subject and a sense of unresolved inquisitiveness that makes time spent with the pictures satisfying indeed.
Visit his website and you’ll see a whole bunch of other London street projects. The blog could do with an update though.
Welcome to the Year of the Horse! For a few years now the Priory Meadow shopping centre in Hastings has welcomed the Chinese New Year in with a Sunday afternoon of traditional dance, song and festivities. This year, with two young boys newly belearnt of the tradition, we went along.
As lion dances go this was, by necessity if nothing else, a small scale event although the performers did go for it with gusto. The cabbage (other green leafy vegetables may apply) is apparently a regular motif in these dances although the luck value is meant to be more significant the higher it is placed. This lion deserves extra luck though for doing a splendid job covering the front row in ‘chewed’ leaves whilst ensuring the Mayor of Hastings also got his leaf.
As you can see there was quite a nice crowd along for the show. Although whether the shop staff in the enclosed centre were pleased or not by the loud (although nice n rhythmic) percussion was something it might have been better not to ask. Still, at least new years by their nature only turn up once a year … come December and they’ll be hearing I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday all day every day.