Now I consider myself to be British, my grandparents came here on the windrush and before that via the transatlantic slave trade, but as far as I'm concerned I have as much right to be here as everyone else. I was born in St Thomas hospital, just spitting distance from the Thames, I've lived in south London nigh on most of my life - minus a few years when I tried it 'up north' for a bit, but I learnt my lesson... I've been a council tenant, can drink my own body weight in tea and I've even been on the dole for a brief period - if I'm not British then I don't know who is!
Given my highly credible 'British' qualifications it may surprise you to learn that I've never done a British holiday, yes I've been to Brighton, but Brighton is not typical of your average seaside town - thanks Gay people for helping to up Brighton's tolerance levels - the reason, much like the Deep South in America, I have visions of being run out of town by angry townsfolk clutching rolled up copies of the Daily Mail instead of pitchforks. Also I don't like being stared at, and that tends to happen a lot outside of London, in fact outside of most of the major cities in the UK.
So with this in mind and a healthy dose of nonchalance I ventured to the UK's Riviera for the day - or the Kent coast to be exact.
The town of Deal - I still can't get used to the name, every time I say it I think I'm saying it wrong! About 20minutes drive away from Dover port, along a winding road where the speed limit says 50mph (but you're sure someone added the zero as a joke) you reach a lovely little town, Deal, with one road in and one road out... I know that's usually how most horror stories start but my trip to Deal was anything but horrific. At first glance the town centre seems quaint and filled with the types of shops I love, independent, quirky and staffed by slightly eccentric people - a recent divorcee, who proceeds to extoll the benefits of Pilates and Viagra. At closer inspection Deal seems to be undergoing the same gentrification as London, one half of the high street is all artisan bread and expensive coffee, while the other side is Superdrug and the pound-shop... I get chatting to a 'local' at the greasy cafe on the pound-shop end of the a high street, who tells me that over the last ten years yuppies from London have slowly been infiltrating, I don't mention where I'm from, I'm already Brown, I don't need to draw more attention to myself! While Deal has its own set of landed gentry, it seems they have been here for years and manage to blend with the locals, albeit wearing more tweed and with lower BMI...
The seafront is a sight to behold, blue/aquamarine water gently rolls into the shore - I'm sure someone's turned up the colour out here because I'm used to the murky brown waters of the Thames- I'm not used to this! And quite frankly I can see why someone may choose this over travelling abroad - it's beautiful. Ok so I am aware that I am on a rare sunny day in England, but honestly as I sit on the pebbles looking out to sea I can safely say I am as relaxed as any other holiday I've been on. I seem to have struck lucky with this trip, the UK is experiencing a bit of an Indian summer; the weather is just perfect, all blue skies and warm sunshine. I sit on the beach, it's pebbles, but it's clean, I can't see any litter anywhere, not on the ground, and not washing up on shore, I'm sure I've accidentally driven through the channel tunnel and am somewhere else, because this can't be England can it? An old lady and a small child have stopped to gawk at me, it's the cane roll, they've never seen anything so spectacular I'm sure - well that's what my ego tells me anyway. I spot another brown person and tail them for a few yards for support before they go into the curry house kitchen - someone's gotta make the curry round here I guess...
I leave them and head back to the seafront to check out the local activities. So what does one do when Black-on-Sea? Well what everyone else does, roam around the arcade, eat fish and chips and complain about the weather! I spot the arcade, it reminds me of a dystopian nightmare, think of the giant in twin peaks and that about sums up the guy behind the counter... Some of the brightly coloured machines have disturbing animatronic puppets that beckon you to part with your cash, while all the remaining staff look like the living dead, except they can't be bothered to chase you and eat your brain. It's a strange mix of old and new on every level..staff, the machines, the punters... But I spot in the corner a memory of childhood, the sweet stand, complete with giant sugar dummies, candy floss and Rock! I bought the rock... Drew the line at the giant sugar dummy... Must remember I'm a grownup!
Whats's this? I spy a mobile catering van out the corner of my eye, a small queue is forming so I am curious, I venture over and it's a local seafood van, selling cockles and mussels alive alive oh... Ok maybe not alive, but I'm getting into the the spirit of the British holiday! Now I may be British, but I am not brave enough to try cockles, I'm sorry, they just look like cochlea's and I just can't... The old guy in front of me tells me that I don't know what I'm missing... I certainly do I think and politely return to the sea front.
To round off my short trip to Deal, I decide to do a bit of investigative reporting. I've heard & seen on the national news that seagulls can be right little tea leafs, stealing food out of people's hands & generally engaging in anti-social behaviour. Now this I have to see, as I proceed to wander about the pier with a carelessly held portion of chips in my hand & a tasty bap in the other, but alas i am left well alone… all the delinquent seagulls have been issued with ASBO's....