Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

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Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  eddie on Fri May 27, 2011 1:28 pm

Wish You Were Here: England on Sea by Travis Elborough – review

Travis Elborough's book covering three centuries of the seaside is amusing, unsentimental and occasionally unkind about an English institution

Lara Feigel The Observer, Sunday 22 May 2011


Down to Margate: 'For Elborough the south coast of his childhood remains an expanse of bigotry and boredom.' Photograph: Oli Scarff/ Getty Images

Travis Elborough is one of the few seaside commentators who can look back on his own seaside childhood without nostalgia. He has no interest in gazing, Betjeman-like, at "ribbons of light in the salt-scented town" or in revelling, as Graham Greene did, in the exuberance of seaside seediness. Instead, for Elborough the south coast of his childhood remains an expanse of bigotry and boredom. He grew up believing that life on land had contracted in overcompensation for the "undulating enormity" of the ocean. As Oscar Wilde once quipped of Worthing, the narrow waists and broad minds had long since changed places.


Wish You Were Here: England on Sea by Travis Elborough

There is an element of disbelief in Elborough's observation that the seaside, long in decline, has become popular again. And this book is partly an attempt to explain this peculiar phenomenon by surveying three centuries of seaside commentary. Luckily, Elborough enjoys his coastal journey more than he might have expected. How could he not, when it leads him from the Midland Hotel to the De La Warr pavilion, from Agatha Christie to Jane Austen and from Ben Nicholson to the mods and rockers?

The resulting account is an enjoyable medley, as eclectic and cluttered as the seaside towns it describes. Along the way Elborough amasses some great anecdotes. There is the 1930s people-watching group Mass-Observation, combing the beach at Blackpool for sex only to find the odd instance of hasty petting. (If there's anything more British than not having sex, Elborough says, then it's not having sex amid the bawdiness of the seaside.) There are 18th-century hypochondriacs drinking seawater mixed with crabs' eyes.

Elborough also advances some fascinating hypotheses. He views the development of piers in the mid-19th century as a form of colonial growth marking the Englishman's "proprietorial self-importance". He suggests that murder stories have always been popular at the seaside because the crime novel and the seaside holiday are fundamentally similar experiences (predictable but none the less satisfying).

Of course, there is much left out. Despite one section being titled "fighting on the beaches" there is nothing about the second world war. There is also a quality of seaside experience which Elborough misses out on, too entertainingly sceptical to have time to dwell on the misty light, the fading ornamental balustrades, the trim white fences or the sopping esplanades which have been lyrically evoked by artists such as Virginia Woolf, WH Auden, John Piper and Benjamin Britten. It is bracing to read a history of the seaside written without nostalgia, but perhaps ultimately the seaside has more to offer the nostalgically inclined.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  tatiana on Fri May 27, 2011 4:20 pm

Yes, i would like to be by the sea.....

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  eddie on Fri May 27, 2011 5:33 pm






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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  tatiana on Fri May 27, 2011 5:48 pm

my little spot near the ocean

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  sil on Fri May 27, 2011 8:50 pm

eddie wrote:He suggests that murder stories have always been popular at the seaside because the crime novel and the seaside holiday are fundamentally similar experiences (predictable but none the less satisfying).
I read this as if murder was something good, thinking "how great, murder and seaside!" cat I'd love to be in a beach right now. I, like most of people, do think of the sea in a nostalgic way... but I really haven't been to the beach much times, maybe it's about the seaside in my mind.

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  sil on Fri May 27, 2011 8:54 pm

Once I saw a beautiful picture of a beach on the internet. And someone commented how beautiful it was. The one who posted the picture replied something like "you can't imagine how boring it gets there".

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  precinct14 on Fri May 27, 2011 9:54 pm

guacamayo wrote:I, like most of people, do think of the sea in a nostalgic way.

Like Philip Larkin:

To the Sea
To step over the low wall that divides
Road from concrete walk above the shore
Brings sharply back something known long before--
The miniature gaiety of seasides.
Everything crowds under the low horizon:
Steep beach, blue water, towels, red bathing caps,
The small hushed waves' repeated fresh collapse
Up the warm yellow sand, and further off
A white steamer stuck in the afternoon--

Still going on, all of it, still going on!
To lie, eat, sleep in hearing of the surf
(Ears to transistors, that sound tame enough
Under the sky), or gently up and down
Lead the uncertain children, frilled in white
And grasping at enormous air, or wheel
The rigid old along for them to feel
A final summer, plainly still occurs
As half an annual pleasure, half a rite,

As when, happy at being on my own,
I searched the sand for Famous Cricketers,
Or, farther back, my parents, listeners
To the same seaside quack, first became known.
Strange to it now, I watch the cloudless scene:
The same clear water over smoothed pebbles,
The distant bathers' weak protesting trebles
Down at its edge, and then the cheap cigars,
The chocolate-papers, tea-leaves, and, between

The rocks, the rusting soup-tins, till the first
Few families start the trek back to the cars.
The white steamer has gone. Like breathed-on glass
The sunlight has turned milky. If the worst
Of flawless weather is our falling short,
It may be that through habit these do best,
Coming to the water clumsily undressed
Yearly; teaching their children by a sort
Of clowning; helping the old, too, as they ought.

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  eddie on Sat May 28, 2011 1:53 am










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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  eddie on Sat May 28, 2011 1:58 am


Seeing the sights at Cleethorpes.


Last edited by eddie on Sat May 28, 2011 2:13 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  Nah Ville Sky Chick on Sat May 28, 2011 2:05 am



Having fun at Blackpool !!

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  felix on Sat May 28, 2011 2:20 am

[img][/img]

Having fun at ???

(Mrs felix's relatives. But are they the S. Wales branch, the Bristol branch, or the East End branch? I reckon South Wales, meself. What about you?)

And where on earth are they? scratch


Last edited by felix on Sat May 28, 2011 2:29 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  pinhedz on Sat May 28, 2011 2:27 am

guacamayo wrote:Once I saw a beautiful picture of a beach on the internet. And someone commented how beautiful it was. The one who posted the picture replied something like "you can't imagine how boring it gets there".
I often see glossy photos in ads by travel agencies and resorts, that look something like this:



It looks like it would be nice and relaxing for about 10 minutes, then you'd be looking for something to do.

I suppose you could try doing this, but then you'd have been there and done that:



I suppose the guy in the chair could ask the romping lady if she's as bored as he is, and see about generating some excitement somehow. What a Face

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  Nah Ville Sky Chick on Sat May 28, 2011 5:21 am

Strawberry Jam wrote:

Excuse me, but ziss iss my towel on ze deck chair! I heff put it zere at six o'clock ziss morning. If you were not so lazy you could heff reserved your own deckchair!

Ha Ha, how did you know that we say that about our German cousins

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  Nah Ville Sky Chick on Sat May 28, 2011 5:23 am

felix wrote:[img][/img]

Having fun at ???

(Mrs felix's relatives. But are they the S. Wales branch, the Bristol branch, or the East End branch? I reckon South Wales, meself. What about you?)

And where on earth are they? scratch

I reckoned on the East End branch, especially the larger lady.

I don't recognise the beach though?

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  Doc Watson on Sun May 29, 2011 2:11 pm

I must go down to the sea again !

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  eddie on Sun Mar 25, 2012 3:30 am


Steven Appleby

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  nombre de otro on Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:12 pm

pinhedz wrote:
guacamayo wrote:Once I saw a beautiful picture of a beach on the internet. And someone commented how beautiful it was. The one who posted the picture replied something like "you can't imagine how boring it gets there".
I often see glossy photos in ads by travel agencies and resorts, that look something like this:



It looks like it would be nice and relaxing for about 10 minutes, then you'd be looking for something to do.

I suppose you could try doing this, but then you'd have been there and done that:



I suppose the guy in the chair could ask the romping lady if she's as bored as he is, and see about generating some excitement somehow. What a Face
but that would be deceitful publicity, pinhedz

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

Post  pinhedz on Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:06 am

The pretty lady romping in the surf has turned into a blue question mark for me. Crying or Very sad
But that's real life, isn't it?

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Re: Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside

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