Exploring the fog and dark side of a day at the English seaside.
It’s not surprising that the English seaside has been rich hunting grounds for photographers, artists and writers.
The seaside is one of the great galleries for watching the English at play. It offers up all those English clichés – eccentric, obdurate, faded glamour, nostalgic, at times downright weird, kitsch mixed with Victoriana, the old and new. It’s all there in a myriad of customs and habits of a day at the seaside, passing childhood memory and traditions down the generations.
There’s the seasonal atmosphere of seaside towns; from the bustle of a hot summer’s day to the abandoned, dilapidated feel of a stormy grey winter day. Then there are English types and characters that only seem to exist, thrive, wandering up and down the promenades and sitting on the benches.
But mixed in is the threat of violence and seedy menace creeping in underneath the piers and unfolding through the old smugglers’ lanes. There’s the mods and rockers rioting on the beaches, the drunken stag-dos spilling into fighting, the baby-faced grin of Pinkie – the vicious seaside murderer in Brighton Rock, the sinister endless riffs of the fairground organs; ghosts drifting underneath the piers (another English invention), the murder mystery in the faded hotel, the B&Bs straight out of Tales of the Unexpected.
One spring day we were in Brighton. It was bright and sunny but we could see a bank of fog hovering at the sea end of the streets. The beach was a border between two worlds: the bright, sunny lanes of Brighton on one side and the other side the clammy shroud of sea fog. The pier disappeared and ghostly figures walked the beach as wreaths of fog drifted round them.
It was other-worldly and eerie.
So I wrote a macabre piece of flash fiction about it for The Wild Hunt, an online literary magazine that celebrates the weird, surreal, the other, and imaginary worlds. You can read it here!