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Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Pier and me...

 This Originally appeared in my Column at HastingsObserver.co.uk

So... The Pier has decided to go, a skeleton of twisted cast iron has emerged. If whales were built and not created by nature, this is what the scaffolding to build them would look like.


The Pier was the first place I was taken to twenty years ago, when I landed and settled in Hastings. I didn't go to a seaside cafe, or the amusements in the old town, it was the Hastings pier. I was herded and cattle prodded into all its nooks and crannies, up into its cavernous insides and down the windy outsides.


I liked it. Its stupid silly stalls and silly cheap hats, the bingo mad pensioners and the kids in the penny arcades. I liked it.


Then, it was just there... nothing to tempt me back in and around...until I had visitors of course!  I then dutifully herded and cattle prodded them into its insides and unmercifully dragged by the wind down its outsides once again.


Then once again it was just... there.


I'd driven to it and from it... even driven on it! I'd taken people to their first concert, their first candy floss, their first time fishing at the end of the pier.


Then they all took their visiting friends and family in and out and around for their first time.


For them as well, the pier, then... was just there.


We have all ignored it, commented and berated it, shirked responsibility and condemned it.


It finally cast out its first time visitors, it refused to show its shiny silly face, it refused to sell any more silly hats.

It willed itself shut, its time and its purpose forgotten, and there it lay...waiting for an end. Unable to sustain another winter alone. It got its wish, it didn't want to say goodbye... The pyre had been lit. For it, perhaps, was a merciful release from the stares and the tut tutting of all who past it.

We are all sorry now, I for one am sorry, for ignoring and tut tutting as I passed. Lord Granville Said in 1872 "Nothing could be gayer than this palace on the sea" as he welcomed this shiny new beauty into the world.

As the world's press stood and watched the funeral pyre of this palace on the sea, the councillors and our MP talk about maybe its not over...  The locals know its gone, contemplating childhood, teenage and adult memories, from birth to whatever age they may be now, they know it's gone.

Build on the bones of the old one? Sure, possibly and maybe, are words being used now, maybe, in ten or twenty years time, new memories will emerge about the "new" Hastings Pier. They will no doubt, drag their family and friends in, through and around it, it will sell silly hats, and the wind will have fun with them, the same wind that fanned the flames of the old one.

But I will miss her, and I promise I won't ignore something or someone that has given up ever again...

Until next time...