Where is Eastbourne? It’s on the south coast of England, mid-way between Hastings and Brighton.
Who lives in Eastbourne? Over one hundred thousand people, but it has a reputation of being full of senior citizens.
Why? Because the very wealthy, on the west side of town towards the landmark Beachy Head (you must have heard of Beachy Head, it’s famous) ,live in an area called The Meads. Less than 5,000 people live here, but they have the money, and their average age is over 71. Children do live in The Meads, but are rarely sighted. No toy shops in the Meads.
What else does it have? The largest number of theatres outside London. There is the Congress, built 1971 on the site of a demolished Indian Pavilion/tea rooms, and is the biggest theatre on the south coast, with over 1,700 seats. The Devonshire Park, about 800 seats, built 1884, and the oldest, The Royal Hippodrome, built 1883. The Underground Theatre is under the library and council offices, 100 seats.
Anything else? A lot of restaurants, excellent transport system, and a very long, flat, seafront. Over three and a half miles, shingle beach, one pier (almost intact) and a bandstand.
That’s the condensed version, and over the next few months I will write a regular Eastbourne diary. Not just about my life, or even my perspective of Eastbourne life, but a lot of differing viewpoints. Let me give you an example.
On July 30th 2014, the pier had a major conflagration. Prime Minister David Cameron arrived two days later with Chancellor George Osborne, and promised that there would be £2million given to Eastbourne for tourism projects. But there were strings he didn’t mention. If you want to receive some government money, you don’t just stand in line with your hand held out, saying ‘gimme,’ followed hopefully by ‘thanks.’ You have to justify where it is going to be spent, specifying very clearly which areas will benefit. But this requires a committee. And a specialist company who know how to apply for this money. And their fees have to be paid, successful or not. Here we are six months down the line, and the committee has met, £45,000 consultancy fees paid over, and now it’s going to take a government committee a few months to decide if the £2 million will be handed over.
In the meantime, the burnt out shell is being slowly removed. Two men are suspended in a cage from a large crane, and inside they have an oxyacetylene torch to cut the charred metal. There is another crane, this time attached to the section that is about to be removed. Laborious, but necessary from safety. Two thirds has gone, the rest weather permitting will be gone by the end of January. A new structure will be erected, but I have not heard or read yet what it will be.
I might write an article about the strange woman who sits on a seafront bench every day in all weathers, huddled up, eating her home made sandwiches, feet up off the ground on an off white stool. She smells, even in the rain, the coat is dirty, her hair unwashed, but she is not a tramp.
Or another might be what I see during my daily exercise walk along the seafront, one day to Beachy Head, the other in the opposite direction towards Sovereign Harbour. There’s a remote shelter with a thatch roof with music emanating. One day I may investigate.