Ah, it was with a tinge of sadness that I saw the old wooden rickety bit of nonsense smoking away and flaking into the breeze this morning. I lived in Weston-super-Mare for four years, not so long ago, and many a happy hour was spent there.
Well, I say "many a happy hour" but I should really say "a few minutes of being jostled about by boorish grockles from West Bromwich who were the approximate colour of a birdseye chilli after having spent 97 hours frying away in the sun while listening to dreadful music at full blast", but you get the general idea.
Weston-super-Mare is a dreadful place. I mean, really dreadful. I loved it, but then I'm dreadful myself, so we kind of got along with each other. It's a terrifically nasty stain on the west of England, with horrific shops awash with Taiwan tack bursting like pustulent sores from its pavements. Everything - everything - is covered in dust and looks like it was forgotten about in the 1980s. And food? You want food? Well let's see, there's omelettes, omelettes, omelettes or omelettes, all served by an unsmiling blubbery ham-faced sow who snaps your leatherette menu out of your hand as if it's a flicknife - and when the omelettes come, they're swimming in a thick black soup of grease.
I used to go jogging along Weston beach, which was quite a delight. You had to jog along the beach because if you jogged along the promenade, you'd either be run over by the pathetically lumbering 'land train' - a 30p journey from the car park to the pier for people so morbidly obese or lazy that they can't be fucked to put one jelly-shoed foot in front of the other for five minutes - or tripped over by some be-hatted jester on a Stagger from Cardiff with his 85 mates called 'Tank' and 'Chunk' and 'Cunter', who would all then chuck chips and bits of battered sausage at you as you helplessly tried to get back to your feet.
But even jogging along the beach wasn't without its pitfalls - kids would try and send a giant streak of green flob into your face from the pier, though they never quite managed to get me; and dog owners would let their dirty hounds chase you and try to kill you with a cheery wave and a "Come on now Tyson, leave him alone!"
The pier itself, of course, was quite an adventure. Only in Somerset would you find a pier with a skittle alley, oh yes. I think there were bumper cars, though the memory's a little hazy about that; but there were definitely slots for the skiddy kids to hang around on all day and practise their underage smoking skills, which were pretty impressive, I have to concede. There were warm ice-creams and cold chips coated in fluff, and a squadron of evil enemy seagulls to try and snatch them out of your hands. And then there was the music: the soft tinkling sound of classical music was piped along the pier as you sat there trying to see off that Slush Puppie headache; I think it was meant to try and make you feel a bit posh. I certainly did.
Anyway, so I'll miss it, much as I miss Weston-super-Mare: I miss the turning every time I'm heading down the M5. The supreme irony, of course, is that in the four years I lived in Weston, it must have rained every single sodding day - yet the one day the pier catches fire, it's beautiful sunshine. It just about sums up Weston.
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