Well, you’ve had the playful, yes, slightly banal and cheeky me so far, but the avalanche of continual criticism has led me to dwell a little on Shitstable and why the crap anyone would move here in the first place. Or, indeed, if you were born here, why you would stay. So here is it. An utterly serious critique, arse-and-all look at the good, the mediocre and the utter dog shite that is Whitstable living. Imagine this is advice to the young me, all full of hope and expectation, five years ago…
1. You will never, ever be a local. Although obvs I’ve proved that total assimilation is possible as I am completely integrated and valued here, there is a strata of resistance in this town, that is impenetrable. Imagine you are the TBM that triumphantly suceeded in linking the UK with mainland Europe for the first time since the ice age? Well if you used that to attempt to penetrate the stony arse faced resistence of certain locals to ‘outsiders’ it would shatter, splinter and kill everyone working on it. It would be a blood bath. Don’t bother trying to be ‘one of them’. Work on the nice one’s and ignore the piss takers. This is largely about class.
2. ‘We preferred Whitstable when it was shit’. This is a widely propogated MYTH and it needs to be challenged and corrected. I’m happy to do that. The supposition is that certain elements if the town believe Whitstable was shit before the DFLs injected some much needed cash into the local economy – but they would have much preferred it to stay like that. Well, HELLO! We were there too! When it was shit! Right back in the early nineties. Here are 5 reasons why the Shitness was Good and 5 reasons why the Shitness was Bad.
5 Reasons Why the Shitness was Good
1. It actually had fucking CINEMAS. When me and the Mrs first came down there was NOTHING. Now can you imagine? We were young, used to London. Film culture was accessible, vibrant and varied. Then NOTHING. Thank GOD the owner of the fish restaurant opened a flea pit upstairs. We saw Resevoir Dogs there, I fell asleep during The English Patient, loved Kidz and Natural Born Killers and barely managed to endure 8 Mile (don’t bother) there and – like in London, you could drink alcohol! However, the projection was shit ( I think he was shagging someone) and the seats left you with the slight feeling that you’d been violated. Whitstable, as I vaguely understand it, has a rich history of picture palaces – The Oxford, another that is now Budgens, another tiny one that was in Harbour street and a large cinema that I remember the giant empty hulk of in Tankerton by the tennis courts. Then, due to shoddy management and terrible audience development (and seats that probably gave you crabs), the cinema above the fish restaurant shut.
Now guess what? NO FUCKING CINEMA! Do not worry, I have my own plan for the Harbour which I will reveal in a separate blog. I am working with a local architect (who I lift very heavy weights with) on a strategic plan for the Harbour development. I’m seeking out private finance right now and negotiating a buy out deal for Bretts.
2. There were less shite shops. Is that really ‘our fault’? There were also cool places like the Assembly Rooms with its weird sprung floor and Johnny’s Art House. My wife loved the Magic Wardrobe too.
3. The Beach – less crowded.
4. You could get a bloody table for dinner without booking three weeks ahead.
5. The pubs – there were more of them. The beer was dirt cheap. I occasionally got a lock in – usually only if I was in the middle of a game of pool (I hate pool. Only did it to get a lock in) or in the toilet for a really long time.
Ooh, I’m going to stretch to a contentious 6 now…
6. YOU COULD FUCKING PARK.
5 Reasons Why the Shitness was BAD
1. It looked shitter. I know I go on about Kath Kittywhatsherfuckingname bunting, but at least DFLs plant flowers and paint their front doors and windows and remodel their houses to look less old and knackered. A greater inward investment means the council pay for better lighting, more planted municipal flowers, better pavements, roads, cleaner streets etc etc. Sorry? Is this boring you?
2. The drugs. No one really likes to discuss this do they? Hmmm? Rather point the finger at Brown Town up the road or the Planet Thanet in the dark beyond, but Whitstable, sorry, Shitstable has and has always had a GIANT drugs issue. Just try and get your prescription in under and hour on ‘methedone day’ at Boots. I tried to ignore the drugs situation in the 90’s like lots of us did. We brought our own, highly superior stuff with us thank you, but spent many an evening throughout the 90’s observing the terrible states people got themselves in. I managed to personally avoid any local brush with drugs apart from one evening. One really, really terrible evening. But I’m not prepared to talk about that without a lawyer.
3. The Food. Now I’m on really dodgy ground here. We patronised the fish restaurant for years when we were young, largely because everyone from London did then. Looking back, it was the ambience of the place that was great, the sunsets, the way the skinny ballet dancer of the waitress never wore a bra, but the food was just….grilled fish. Fucking expensive, grilled fish. Deliah’s was fab, but that was it. Well. Apart from the French place in Harbour Street. Most dyslexic menus I’ve ever read. Mackerelly on toast and Salaman Rushdie salad. Fab. Soooo, that’s why I think a bit of competition is good. Now there is the Michelin starred Sportsman, the Pearsons, which apparently is good (not into celebrity chefs), Salt Marsh at the the back of the best DFL pub in town, Samphire, The Oxford and JoJos (she’s not from Whitstable though, she’s from up North and don’t bother going if you like to eat clean. It’s all deep fried.).
Burger Bros are a pop up that have been slated by certain elements. They are run by a massive gent who looks like a criminal. He’s from Sheppey. No they’re not from Whitstable, but that’s hardly posh is it?!
4.The pubs. Ok, there were more. The beer was cheaper. But they were SHITE and full of dick heads. Scary, tacky, smelly. Need I go on? I even had the misfortune to wander into one (not far from my own Victorian cottage now) that was showing HOME PORN every Saturday night and advertised that they had a girl from Herne Bay upstairs for consensual ‘massage’ every Thursday. Classy!
5. Crime and Violence. Again, like the Drugs. no one really likes to talk about this…except me! Consider the following before you move here:
a. Kebab shop fights. Not just between the men, hhooo nooo. Watch those drunk young ladees give it sum. Also, I watched a young man have his kebab ninja kicked right out of his hands as he was about to take his first bite. There are A LOT of ninjas in Whitstable.
b. I was enjoying a Christmas Eve at an old pub up on Tankerton slopes one year in the 90’s when a MASSIVE fight broke out. It was like watching a Western – one pumped up pikey on steroids and Hurlimann threw one bad punch and the whole sorry lot of them were thumping each other. We just sat frozen until the police arrived.
c. Crime. Very upsetting. We brought two fold up bikes down in the early 2000’s and they were nicked when we had a coffee. Then someone tried to sell the same bikes back to us outside Bruce Randall’s. I’m ashamed to say we bought them. No one ‘buys’ a bike in Whitstable. They just ‘acquire’ one. FACT.
d. Two people have had their ears bitten off in Whitstable in 20 years. WTF?!
3. It’s a much happier experience being a DFL woman. I will expand on this in a later blog – I have DFL women archetypes that I would like to explore with you, but for now, let’s say that DFL men fall into two categories:
a. Put upon spineless, emasculated ‘stay at home-your career is over’ DFL men, who pretend the company of small children is better than the thrill of a proper job. They get thinner and thinner because they can’t see the point in eating, while they spend all day every day feeding their plump London children. All the while SHE is up in town, doing important shit.
b. ‘I didn’t want to move here’ poor bastards who, having married their dream girl, realised she’s turned into a different person once pregnant. She’s life-managed them into a semi-rural existence that is TOTALLY NIHILISTIC to his career. So, the poor bastard has to get up at 5 am to get the ‘fast’ train to where he used to be able to get to work in 20 minutes JUST SO SHE CAN SIT ON THE FUCKING BEACH.
4. Whitstable IS cultural wasteland compared to London. Ok, there are ‘hotspots’. The Whitstable Biennale (none of the locals get it. They don’t even understand that it runs every other year. Lol), some other stuff Whitstable 365 etc, but really, compared to the free, wonderful INTERNATIONAL CULTURE available in London, Whitstable is a white dog turd of culture. Rare, unpleasant, best ignored.
5. Prepare to do a pretty savage Personal Identity MOT! This is strongly linked with number 1 but subtly different, whereas number 1 dealt with class prejudices, this deals with JEALOUSLY about ego and success. Locals in Whitstable (bar a couple of big tattoeed exceptions) are very short of self confidence. They HATE anyone who is successful or is prominent about their achievements. By all means, come here if you are famous, but don’t fucking talk about it, don’t acknowledge it. Please, please, don’t expect any one to respect you for it!! Ho, no.
6. Like moving, or any change really, don’t let expectations exceed reality. And when the reality kicks in, just think, well, you know what, I made that decision, I’ve got to deal with it. My reality? The weather. Ok, bit stupid maybe but I thought it might be hotter here than London. It’s not. It’s windy and very cold in the winter. But hey! I got into kite surfing instead. It’s the source!
7. Okay, okay, let’s have some positives…um, kitesurfing 7 days a week, Georges mini market (seriously man – I shit you not!), micro breweries and micro pubs – Tankerton Arms and the Black Dog, live music in the pubs in town – fucking A.
8. Some big negatives I will deal with comprehensively in other blogs. Housing (not social obvioulsly), and parking.
9. Shopping. Fucking terrible. Still have to come to London to get what I need. No Waitrose or M&S local. No one has anything to eat in the evening.
10. Okay. Lastly, the worst thing about the town is?……The DFLs! Yes, I am one, but I’ve been here for ages. I’m massive friends with locals. Even the ugly, gobby ones! I’m going to save my DFL rant up for another night. It’s a bit epic.
So – sorry it’s been a saga. Sorry there are not images. Actually, I don’t care. If you’ve got this far, well done.
Final random list of things currently getting on my nerves, seeing as I’m on a roll…
Small children. Just wandering about. Getting in the way
Elderly people, driving.
Idiot people, chatting by zebra crossings.
Ahh. I think that’s it for now. We’ve been in Cornwall for a few days so it’s nice to come back now the town is a bit less mad. Be interested to see if other DFLs feel the same. Lol! BTW – hello Mumsnet! Lol!