Monday, July 07, 2008
Perhaps its having lived in Morecambe for a year as a student, but I tend to think of English seaside resorts as delightfully tacky and edifyingly depressing. Several fairly cast iron laws come into operation as you approach these places.
Almost all do a great line in faded Victorian grandeur. They'll generally have boasted an amusement park or pier, but it's equally likely to have burnt down in mysterious circumstances.
You'll encounter many rather young looking mothers wheeling their babes. You'll see postcards depicting the town in its heyday, invariably several decades ago, showing huge crowds watching people dive off boards, or dance with feathers. The same pictures will show great weather, but there will be none while you are there. You will hear lots of Girls Aloud, but the artist you'll be reminded of is George Formby.
Well all these laws are broken at Folkestone, which Ms T, Rachel and I visited last Friday on our way to France. It's currently hosting it's 'Triennial' arts festival, which is basically an excuse to wander about and look at modern art hosted in or on people's shops, or on the promenades. There are metal installations of discarded baby clothes by Tracey Emin (this works superbly - poignant and slightly disturbing), and other work by famous people, including a thirty minute long film of a fishing boat which plays upstairs in the town's library. There are 'murmuring benches' where you sit and gaze at the distant French coastline while listening to letters written by WW1 soldiers to their sweethearts.
It's all rather brilliant, and we had a pleasant lunch into the bargain. The weather was superb and I wished I'd brought my trunks but the lucky townspeople were spared.