Monday, 28 July 2008

Piers and Launches

Brighton West Pier as it was when I walked on it.

And as it is now.

Weston-Super-Mare pier today.

I was the last person to walk down the full length of Brighton West Pier. Really, I was. I was in Brighton with friends, some twelve years ago, enjoying the sea air and the beer (The Fortune Of War pub was favoured, as well as the mackerel smokery nearby) when we saw that the West Pier was having one of it's very rare opening days, so along we went, saving the delights of a fish dinner at the Regency for later and begged our way onto a tour. Surprised at our interest, the lady agreed to take us on a special tour, when they had their lunch break, as long as we bought her a drink afterwards. My charms have not deserted me yet, even though they are mainly used for convincing ladies to bake me cakes now. It was a magnificent tour, we walked the full length, were transported back to the Regency heyday in the cobweb full and slightly spooky hall of mirrors, danced something resembling the quickstep in the dilapidated ballroom and laughed at the chairs, so full of damp they collapsed when a bird landed on them. It was wonderful. Our spines chilled when one of the windows blew in and we jumped in fear as the centre of the dance floor collapsed, the timbers cascading to a still, but far away sea below.

We were ushered onto the metal walkway which ran the length of the pier and kept for such emergencies and we marched rapidly to the shore, some way off. As we neared the land, the great pavilion at the end collapsed and the cupolas at the other end, ten yards from us, fell into the sea with a mighty creak and a roar, magnificent and terrible. That, as they say, was that for the pier and now it is almost all gone, save for some iron struts standing like the ghost of Edwardiana. I see that Weston Super Mare pier is now in flames and destroyed, so I should like to assure you that I have been nowhere near the place.

But this is it, the transitory nature of things, the comings and the goings and the memories of the change in the tide. We need to look at where we stand, or at least I do, from time to time, to reassure ourselves, or myself, that all is well, even though structures fall. That the essential landscape has changed but the reason for being there is still the same. A million picture postcards are now inaccurate, but people will still go to Weston-Super-Mare on holiday, and Weston-Super-Mare is still there, just in need of a little reinvestment and rediscovery. So do not confuse my ramblings with a change in my faith, anymore than I would confuse your comments in the comboxes with the summation of your existence. Remember, as regular readers know I am a literary sort of chap, no scientist and therefore inclined to see all sorts of colours, including shades of grey, that sre not necessarily obvious. That is the fun of literary criticism, but not, I am finding, compatible with orthodox theology. And pray for me, as I pray for you.