Back With a Vengeance

Have you missed me?  Well, I’m back in the Bubble.  I’ve been out of the country for a year and that’s why I haven’t blogged.  And before I hear any of you saying ‘Der, you can do it from anywhere in the world!’  The real reason is that I really just couldn’t be bothered.  Soz!

We’ve been in the States, mostly in New York.  The wife was given an amazing opportunity we couldn’t refuse, so we put the girls in boarding school (not entirely my preference) and off we went.  It’s been epic!  Obvs, not just a crucial supporting role for me. I had lots of very important film opportunities, let’s just say documentary type opportunities, to explore out there too.  Lots.

Anyway, I’ll be giving you the odd anecdote about my adventures state-side in good time, but this post is mainly dedicated to what’s the same and what’s different in Whitstable since I’ve been gone.

So, I’d like to invite you to take a little virtual walk along the High Street and around the famous sights of the town and help me re-familiarise myself with my adopted home and the people in it

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  • Bretts – Oh yeah. There it is.  I can feel my alveoli swelling with dusty gunk already.

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  • The Gorrell Tank – Still not repaired it then? What a surprise… Trade must have been good this year.  Not!

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  • The old Post Office sorting office – I understand there’s been all sorts of drama about this shutting and various doomed attempts to take it over as a community space. Simple solution that would really serve a lot of people like me in the town is to invite Waitrose to open a new store here.  I’m going to start a campaign!

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  • The Handsome Sam – Good good, another micro pub – shame it’s at the boring end of town. Probably give it a swerve.
  • Another café in Harbour Street – exactly what the town needs. As my office can be anywhere, the more alternatives, the better.
  • Another gallery – exactly what the town needs. Looks like they are actually attempting to exhibit good art too.  I’m in shock quite frankly.

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  • The Post Office has vanished!   And turned into a mobile thingy. Didn’t really use it to be honest – flattening that eyesore has made way for more much needed housing for people to relocate to the town.  There’s no going back to the way Whitstable was before (see previous post).  Embrace DFLs and enjoy the London cultural influences they bring!  The town needs their money.
  • 10842722-largeNew accommodation for unaccompanied young men at the old Ladesfield care home – been watching reaction to this on Facebook, particularly the volatile and mostly aggressive opinions on the group ‘Overheard in Whistable’. I think it’s quite right the empty building was used but it seems there is a lot of angry townspeople who disagree.  Negative opinions are mostly ‘not in my back yard’ right wing knee jerk hot air from what I’ve read. These children need to live somewhere! It’s only when you’ve lived in a truly multicultural city like London or New York – then come back – that you realise how bland the town is.  Come on Whitstable!  Let’s face it – you’re whiter than a vanilla Minimilk!  A diverse community is a rich community.  One of the happiest outcomes of the growing Eastern European community in this and neighbouring towns is the Polish food aisle in Tescos! Who can honestly say they don’t love that? No one, that’s who.  Looking forward to the Syrian, Iranian and Libyan aisles in the future.

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  • Another observation – distinctly less beards! Now this isn’t a bad thing for me.  I read an article in the Guardian which suggested we had gone beyond ‘peak beard’ and we’re now, as a society about to enjoy a new bald chin era.  It also suggested a phenomenon called ‘Negative Frequency-Dependent Sexual Selection’ – where women favour men with a different face-barnet to every other male in the room.  Well I’m alright then!  I’m one of a few with a great big beard in the town now.  Move over baldies – restrain your women – I’m back and I’m bearded! Lol!

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  • One thing I’m glad to see is no different at all: Georges Mini Market. A mecca. I’m not sure what we humble townsfolk would do without it.  I buy all my beard products in there for half the price.  You have no idea how expensive serum is in America!

Now this brings me on to a little anecdote about my time in the US.  There weren’t many beards around in the circle of friends we’d become part of, so while Pip was away one weekend, feeling homesick, I decided to go out in the city and see if I could grab an early evening beer in a place that reminded me somewhat of Shoreditch.  Sure enough, I came across a bar that seemed to have a higher than average proportion of similar looking beardies like me.  I had a couple of (to be honest, piss poor, weak) American beer and chatted with a couple of fellas at the bar.  I popped to the Gents and just as I was relieving myself, the young man next to me introduced himself as ‘Wolf’, then asked ‘Are you a Fozzie Bear lookin’ for love?’  I zipped myself up so quick I nearly became a eunuch!  I mean wtaf?  No!  So yeah.  Did a bit of googling on that one.  Looks like it’s a thing.  Not my thing, but it seems it’s not just the girls that love my face-locks.

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So, there’s two reasons why I thought I’d start writing my blog again.  First, the wife is away – we’re back in the country but she’s now working all over Europe, so I’ll have plenty of me-time to write.  Second, I’ve been roped into some project with a local woman who has suggested it would be a good idea to ‘drive up my stats’ before it starts.  Not really sure what she means or why, she’s keeping it all very mysterious.  But apparently my role as ‘fully assimilated DFL’ is core to the project.  Whatever.

Ah, it’s lovely to be home.  I’ve missed those sunsets!

Beardy-byebye!

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The ‘Naming of the Oysters’ – DFLs Just Got STUPID.

It’s hot.  The Council have sort of sorted the parking situation (although I still don’t believe people will ‘park and ride’ and what’s wrong with the bloody train?)  It’s Oyster Festival Week!  I’ve got a blinding hangover, so just bear with me.

Now you have to understand that as a DFL myself, the wife and I trudged down to Whitstable year after year for this event, but I don’t remember it ever being quite so – mental.  The Harbour felt more like a Tokyo tube station at rush hour than the quaint little fishing village we first discovered back in the 90s.  The truth is, I’ve done everything to avoid the chaos since I moved here five years ago, but today I braved it – just for you!

I took a wander along to Tankerton at lunchtime then came back along the seafront with a wave of tourists headed in the same direction. You can tell which beach huts are owned by DFLs a mile away – they are all festooned in Cath Kidston bunting.  It’s hateful.  Any thing that jolly ought to be stopped.  Burnt in fact.  As I well know, beach hut burning was a thing in Whitstable.  Maybe someone ought to bring it back.

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We overhead the dappy teenage ‘life guard’ at the designated ‘it’s alright to drown here’ bit of Tankerton beach remark, with surprise that she hadn’t noticed a massive Thames barge sailing right in front of her.  ‘Has that been there all the time?’ she asked her pimple faced colleague.  ‘Uh, dunno.’  He replied.  Doesn’t bode well if you are hoping to get rescued does it?

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Some innovative approaches to bbq apparell.  Nice.

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We came around the corner at the public bogs (which bizarrely have a new dwelling being renovated above them – nice – constant smell of urine and used needles outside).

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The vista that presented itself just reminded me of this –

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That’s right.  Beirut.  That all too familiar granite works chug chugging out it’s throat clogging plume of dust and asthma inducing smog, looming over a beach that resembled Torremelinos in high season, but with the sound track of war drums echoing across the bay.  They weren’t war drums but they certainly got my adrenalin up.  The sound is produced by this group of pudgy, bored women (mainly) who all wear pink and spontaneiously drum for no reason at all and in no kind of pattern, arragement or order.  It is one of the most annoying features of the Oyster Festival. They also randomly ‘flashmob’ in supermarkets, shopping centres and parades.  It’s loud, irritating and their smug painted faces make me feel, at the very least,  like committing some sort of criminal damage.

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I stopped in front of the Continental, immediately aware that if I was to proceed further – for you – I would need some alcohol.  So, while the wife went for a dip (through the seaweed), I lit the rubbish throwaway bbq and cracked open a bottle of Prossecco.  Nice.  Then the drunnming stopped.  Thank god.

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Weirdly, we spotted this lovely young lady – I think she used to be someone.  Didn’t she get sacked from the TV because she was too thick?  Something like that.  I think she’s from Chatham.

Kelly at East Quay

It’s amazing what a man can put himself through with half a bottle of good booze inside him, but even that didn’t prepare me for sheer madness that was the Harbour.  As we left the beach by the waterski club, we overhead a particularly stupid tourist point at the shingle and pronounce, ‘That’s where the priest performs The Naming of the Oysters!’

THE NAMING OF THE OYSTERS!!!!  What did this woman think the vicar would be naming them?  Bob?  Gary?  Or, in honour of the DFLs rammed into the town, Tarquin?  So DFLs just got very stupid. 

We laughed and laughed right up to the queue outside the row of portaloos when we finally realised that we were going to have to penetrate the dense crowd in order to find more booze.  The population at the Harbour seemed to be made of up average DFLs (as you’d expect), extremely drunk sunburnt shouty locals (as you’d expect), famous people (more in a minute) and swathes and swathes of Japanese people!

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We saw – Thick Girl from Chatham, Gemma Arterton, Iggy Pop and – and this TOTALLY DID OUR HEADS IN – Prince Harry!!!!!!!!!

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More beer.  Lovely.  Bought a shower curtain from my great old friend Laura at Hot Rocking Belle.  Pip bought another vintage style dress.  All part of her DFL costume to play her part in the theme park that is Whitstable.  Anyway, was good to see trade so flippin good for all my friends.  We survived the main part of the Harbour (two pints of lager) and got round to the West Quay, bought a burger from my old buddy Karl at Burger Bros and caught the last few choons my best pal Mark was spinning on his wheels of steel.

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Anther DFL in ‘costume’ – he’s come as a sailor!

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Burger Bros – best gourmet burgers in town.  Usually at the Coach and Horses – although not really a pub I would ever dream of going in!  Don’t be mad.  We just get them as a take away instead.

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Chilled out choons.  Great singer-songwriter, tasty burger and more beer.  The sun went in a bit too which helped.  Finally I felt a bit less panicky.  Then we made the mistake of GOING INTO TOWN… We overheald Stupid DFL number 2 point at a random clothing boutique and announce ‘That’s Dawn Porter’s FAVOURITE shop!’

We got some more beer then settled at the beach by the Horsebridge for another hour.  Astonishing.  People sitting, literally sitting, on top of old crab legs, shells and fish spines.  Children picking them up – playing with them.  Just URGCH!

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Of course, there were beards everywhere – here are some I spotted –

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There were the Japanese –

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And these do-gooders – the Street Pastors!  They seemed to be largely helping dogs become less overheated with the power of God.  Totally pointless.  Anyone who lives in Whistable knows 1) Everyone gets wasted at the Oyster Festival 2) The people that really ‘need help’ are more likely to headbutt a middle aged Christian do-gooder poking their smug kindly faces into their own private drunken world.

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Can you imagine the reception they’d get if they tried to help this lot?

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Then we saw these cheeky fellas.  That put a smile on my face, largely becuase it made DFL children cry.  By this time I was feeling very very grumpy.

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Now, you know my feelings about buses, but we’d been invited to a bbq at a big house up in Tankerton and we just couldn’t be bothered to walk up there, so we got the bus from the Horsebridge.  Oh look, The Prince Albert.  It’s been refurbished but really, you can’t polish a turd right?

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Got a fedora on?  No need to USE THE PAVEMENT then!

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Yes, I am a DFL, but this DRIVES ME MAD.  Just-use-the-bloody-crossing!!!!!  Nice beard though…

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So, no sunset for us.  I can’t say I really ‘enjoyed’ it.  I am glad people came and spent loads and loads of money, but for me, the whole thing has lost the cosy, intimate, uniquely Whitstable feel it had before the festival grew and grew into the monster it has become.  I probably will head down to the mud tug tomorrow, but I’ll be taking one crucial precaution first –

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Necking a bottle of this!!  Cheers.