“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Friday, 23 April 2010

Sweet Gene Vincent, there's one in every town. Even Bexhill.

Last week saw us take the train down to Bexhill to have a look at that gem of modernist architecture, the De La Warr Pavilion. The pavilion itself is a real classic and well worth a visit but what a strange town Bexhill is. Until the 1880s Bexhill was a small village on a hill a mile from the coast. The main industry seems to have been smuggling and Bexhill's only claim to fame was as the site of a pitched battle in 1828 between excise men and "the boys". When the local landowner, Lord De La Warr no less, hit upon the idea of creating the up market resort of Bexhill on Sea the area was transformed. The Victorian upper middle class flocked to the luxury hotels. They walked along the genteel promenade, breathed great lungfulls of bracing sea air and even participated in the new and pretty raffish pursuit of mixed bathing. The first ever motor car race was held here in 1902 but by the time that the De La Warr Pavilion was built in the 30s the writing must have been on the wall for the pretentious little resort.
To visit Bexhill today is to witness a gentility that has faded to the point of disappearing altogether and been replaced by nothing at all. We counted just two pubs and both looked so dreary that we just could not face them. There is an air of deprivation about the place with seemingly every other shop a charity shop. I used to love those dodgy "exchange" shops that could be found in most towns and around London's major stations. I hadn't seen one for years but there was one in Bexhill complete with the usual window full of knives, airguns and electric guitars. That and the tattoo and piercing facility opposite was a clue to there being at least some youth in town. One can but weep for them. What must it be like to be the only Goth in Bexhill?

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