Another interesting essay from Julie Burchill (haven’t seen her on Unherd for a long time although I noticed she’s been busy over at The Spectator).
I suspect a lot of foreign travel won’t come back post-pandemic. It’s crowded, expensive and, as the author notes, “now a travail.”
I’m on vacation this week and I’m enjoying a staycation. Yesterday I walked our local beach, visited the Marina, and ate lunch at a rather seedy restaurant. There was only one person working and she was overwhelmed so I placed my order and sat outside in the shade, closed my eyes and listened to the waves and the families and the dogs barking. When the waitress eventually arrived with my lunch she apologized for being late and I told her not to worry about it. I’d had a great time enjoying the day.
Good luck to all the Weston-super-Mares of the world. There’s much simple pleasure to be had without the hassle of travelling abroad.
I couldnt agree more….as long as its not raining!
Even when it’s raining, people watching and reflection on places and their past is fascinating – the rain adds another perspective.
Thank you so much for this warm and kind reminiscence of Weston Super Mare. My loving but hard up parents sent me there on the Greyhound coach for my holiday – when I was six years old and on each of the eight succeeding years – to stay at first with my grandparents in Carlton Street ( part of a lovely community of stone build houses near the sea front, sadly now long demolished) and later with my Aunt Peg and her family in Brendon Avenue, which looked out over the town and across the Bristol Channel. The magic of the place stays with me – even in my 74th year.
I have taken my family several times for visits but it has not proved possible to transmit the magic to them. We enjoyed our holidays mostly in France and I understand why. But for me holiday and Weston Super Mare will be forever together in my mind.
Thank you for your essay – and thank you Grandma, Grandpa, Aunty Peg and of course thank you Weston Super Mare.
What a wonderful paean to WsM, thank you.
At over 32’ (10m)chucking oneself of the high diving board was truly ‘a near death experience’.
I agree with Julie’s opinion of herself as a writer. She is a good one. Thank you, Weston.
Love ur writing, so full of hope, tragedy, melancholy and humour.
Hope to see u lots more here and The Spectator
It seems that not even this association can retard its rise:
Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare.
And didn’t John Cleese hail from Weston-super-Mare too?
He did, although he’s not been too keen on it of recent times:
“I do not care for Weston-super-Mare, and so I’m glad that I’m not there.”
My teenage self enjoyed the Tropicana. My middle aged self longs for the Lido.
It is good know though that Weston is thriving again, maybe a nostalgic trip back is in order.
I used to live near Weston and am glad to hear of its revival.
I recall shopping there one day and noting that there seemed to be a huge influx of black people and wondered if they had come to find work in the town. Then I heard their accent – pure, 100% Brummie. There was a long-standing tradition of Brummies taking their holidays in Weston, and it seemed a new generation was continuing the custom – I thought that was rather nice.
I often wondered too about the plaque on Weston Station depicting a dog, a retriever, with the simple engraving ‘Dandy, the orphans’ friend.’ There’s a story there.
The lido terrified me as a boy. (That’s why I’m no writer, I suppose). I haven’t been there since my dad’s funeral, three years ago. But I can hear the siren calling . . . Thanks, Julie
Weston-super-Mare – YAY!
We used to take the paddle steamer across the Bristol Channel to Weston-super-Mare- very exciting for a kid.
But Julie your life has been quite ordinary. Self obsessed ‘artistes’ like yourself, and Banksy with his take on the artistic cliche of dystopia (yet again, do artists ever consider the apparently mundane?), never seem to appreciate the hugely varied, challenging, exotic and painful experiences that all humans, even those in suburbia doing boring jobs, experience.
But your focus on the special ‘ordinariness’ of Weston seems to acknowledge how damned interesting all people and all places are. Like the bag being blown about in the wind in American Beauty. It’s sad that the vast majority of artistes and intellectuals, and their young acolytes, typically don’t realise this until after their glory days are over.
A bag being blown about – rather like the blue balloon that brought the author happiness in Umberto Saba’s poem that begins:
“In quel momento ch’ero già felice
(Dio mi perdoni la parola grande
e tremenda) chi quasi al pianto spinse
mia breve gioia? Voi direte: “Certa
bella creatura che di là passava,
e ti sorrise”. Un palloncino invece,
un turchino vagante palloncino
nell’azzurro dell’aria, …”
Forgive me if quoting an Italian poem in an English publication seems pretentious but it is one that resonates with me much as your reference to the bag in American Beauty does to you.
This year the Tropicana is being repurposed for another art installation, this time a repurposed oil rig named the “See Monster”. Delays mean it will only open just as the school summer holidays end. https://seemonster.co.uk/
Hi Unherd, why can’t I edit my last comment?
I remember the diving boards at the Lido. Terrifyingly high but I am not sure they were highest in the world
10m high diving boards were introduced in the 1904 Olympics, so there were plenty around by 1937 when WsM’s was completed.
Currently there is an excellent one in Sheffield, much used by ‘Red Wall’ nutters.
‘You couldn’t blame them; going on the game made more sense than a pretty teenage girl from a blue-collar book-free home announcing that she was planning to be A Writer.’
Choosing independently to go ‘on the game’ is never a blameless choice. I cannot believe the flagrant obliviousness of the author here to the way many of you might perceive this piece. I had heard decent things about Burchill.
The Heritage Site | Adam McDermont | Substack
She was referring to the gossips, not the girls who went off to London.
If you read her autobiography or memoir I Knew I Was Right (a very Burchill title),you’ll discover that though the drugs and rock n roll played a huge part in her life once she got to London,in fact she was as chaste as any Victorian maiden but in a bolshy contemporary way. I think she was virginal when she married Tony Parsons. The usual case of People marrying someone they find out they don’t like (mutual) that people seem to be prone to. I think with this remark she was being ill advisedly flippant.