After pushing the car to start it in Cardiff, and being too frightened to stop until we reached home even to buy water or food, we for some reason took A roads home up to Gloucester. In pure synchronicity the radio kicked into PJ Harvey’s The Last Living Rose just as we crossed the boarder into England.
Wales hadn’t been bad in itself, but we’d been very ill on Southport overindulgence and feeling low since Blackpool really. Dan was both hungover and in pain from his back, grunts from the rear seat being his main way of communicating. The car trouble wasn’t helping my mood either—I’m sure jump starting it isn’t good in the long run and for the price of an hour or so I was sure there was a Kwik Fit (or in Wales a Kwijky Fitwy) to pop to.
We’d always said piers were just a hook to hang the narrative on, and by now the routine of visiting was very well established: drive into town scanning the horizon, spot the pier, hunt for free parking on a hill (or at least the flat to make pushing easier), walk to the pier and onto it if possible, stopping to write notes, hunt for postcards, decide if the town had anything to offer…
By this point the pier archetypes were easy to spot: pretty empty, closed/in ruins, fading commercialism, and community revived. So we were even more hunting for the odd or for people to talk to. People that weren’t us were a relief; after a few days male conversation falls into nods and tropes so students, bar-staff, shop owners, especially lighthouse keepers has been welcome breaks.
But when we hit the last pier, an emptiness.
Well, first for me, mind detox, reading up on my Authurian Legends as they hit me many times round the country, counting the receipts to see how much we spent and getting the car fixed. For us we’ve got to write the book. That might take a while, but months rather than years, and sort out a publisher.