Victoria peerless


Our trip was not just around the country, it was through our cultural heroes and experiences too. Victoria Wood came up a lot – and not just because half-way round visiting all those piers we found out that her brother Chris had beaten us to it. We hated him for it.

Victoria Wood’s humour is deeply ingrained into our world. Jon has a Platonic ideal of one of her sketches in his head, which involves simply pushing a trolley round a supermarket and saying the brand names out loud – only the ones she’d pick as perfectly comic and culturally representative. It’s not funny when he does it, but it didn’t stop him doing it every time we went to buy anything.

And because our maps of the world exist in an ideaspace, these heroes can come to the fore at any time: accessed through the most simple or tangential of connections. A name, a word, or both. And those connections can save you, they mean a lot.

Dan picks up the story in this extract…

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Did you know that after seven on a Thursday every local BBC radio station transmits a show that has the best of all of the BBC local radio stations. Radio eats itself. But don’t think about the homogenisation of British culture, think about the piers. This week Cleethorpes was voted pier of the year, and Hastings pier was re-opened by local boy Suggs from Madness. The Mark Forrest show had Suggs on Hastings pier, lots of Cleethorpes locals not being at all interested in their pier — and then me talking about piers in general.

The whole show is on iPlayer for a month, but you can listen to me here:


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Local boys made, er OK

We were on our local BBC station BBC WM’s breakfast show last week with Adrian Goldberg. You can listen here.

In more Birmingham, we’re appearing at Ignite Brum — a night of talks at the Glee Club this Wednesday, tickets are free.

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Wish you were here


We survived the nerves to launch the book, as you can see from the picture. We really had a lovely time and hope everyone who came enjoyed it — and those that took a book away with them, we hope you enjoy that too.

Thanks especially to Libby and Caroline, who amongst other things put together a fabulous quiz about piers — that we almost came first in, almost.

So what next? Well, we’ve a good few bits of publicity to do: including an appearance at Ignite Birmingham in a week or so and we’ll hopefully see a few reviews in the media. We’ve already had a few on Amazon, and you wouldn’t believe just how much that helps: so if you want to add one that would be smashing.

If you’re interested in how the book became a book, from the first idea to publication, then we’ve written quite a mammoth article about that over on Medium which you may like.

If you’d rather something quicker, there’s a run through of the oddest things we saw on our trip, on Buzzfeed, where you’ll also find a quiz about checking your pier experience — how many have you visited?

We’ve also written a piece for Area, and Danny has been interviewed, and both Dan and Jon have written other little bits.

And if you’re reading the book now — why not try our ‘soundtrack LP’ which is over on spotify, all the music we were listing to on the way round the coast and all that which is mentioned in the book.

And, it is in the shops. We’ve seen evidence.


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Pier Review’s online knobbly knees competition


Hi-de-Hi campers,

“It’s your genial camp host here, and when I say camp*…”

You know at the start of Goodfellas when Henry Hill says “as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster” – well it’s like that with us and running the entertainment at a holiday camp in the ‘50s.

And the next best thing is to run a knobbly knees competition on the internet. And it’s simple:

The top three, as judged by us, will win a copy of Pier Review. We’ll share all the entries here.

By the way, have you noticed the third prize winner here isn’t even showing his knees? You have do, get rolling those trousers.

Pier Review Knobby Knees Compo

*Danny even won the ‘Prince of the Camp’ competition at Southport Pontins in 1988.

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Get ready to launch

Join us to celebrate the launch of a book that has been five years, fifty plus piers and two thousand miles in making.

We’ll have a short reading or two, a chance to prove that you are Pier Masters in our quiz, maybe Punch and Judy, all the fun of the seaside that can be shoehorned into a pub in the second city.

And there will be drink. Craft beer drink, if that’s the sort of thing that you like.

Maybe you can take home a souvenir copy of our book…

From 7pm Friday 12 February at The Woodman, The Woodman, New Canal Street, Birmingham, B5 5LG – Just by Curzon St station.

RSVP on our Facebook event if you so wish, here.

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Face in the hole


You stick your head through and get a photo taken, if there’s one thing that’s everywhere at the seaside it the sea. But also these. But they don’t have a proper name. A few questions on the internet and a bit of googling and we got a few options: Aunt Sally board, face in the hole board, character board, peep through board, cut-outs (which can’t work), and even the French word ‘tintamarresque’.

The French have a word for it, and we don’t: it’s an insult to our national character.

So, what should we do? Settle on one, pinch the French?

If Pier Review can do one thing, it should do this service to the English language.

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TV shows and cover versions

Danny was on BBC Two this morning, in a piece for the Victoria Derbyshire programme all about — well — piers. He made the interviewer chuckle and even seemed surprisingly knowledgeable. You can watch the short film here.

In other news we’ve got both a cover (by the rather smashing Dan Mogford) and a release date which is (at the moment) 11 Feb 2016. You can pre-order already, here. The book itself is now in the copyediting stage, all our facutal errors and over egged literary fantasies now expunged. It’s really rather exciting.

Here’s how we’re going to look.

SummerDaleCover 2

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Watch this space – we’ve signed

Back in 2010 we had an idea. It began, like all good things, in a pub. The night itself is a blurred mess eroded by time and booze but Jon assures me it was my idea. I’m not so sure. Buck passing aside, the idea was spoken out loud, the splinter of an idea in our mind’s thumb that would bother us until exorcised. But for a good while the idea seemed to be doomed to the fate of most of our ‘beer good’ ideas, that is when examined with more sober heads it’s illegal, incredibly hard work for the sake of an only slightly amusing pun, or pig-headedly obscure.

So wrote Danny in an introduction to Pier Review that’s long since hit the textual cutting room floor. And yes it was all of those things. But we did it — with a great deal of help from our friends, particularly one little grumpy one — a year later in 2011. Then we took about two years writing it up, then longer editing it into some sort of sense. Then…

pier signing

Nothing to say really until now — when we’re pleased to announce that the book has been snapped up by a publisher and will be out at some point in the first half of next year. Thank you Summersdale (who seem both very enthusiastic and right for the book) and our agent Joanna (of Hardman & Swainson) for getting it to this stage. But most of all, thank you to the nearly 40 people that took us on trust back in 2011 that we could turn some money and donated creme de cassis into something resembling a book. We’ve not forgotten you.

Stand by for further announcements.

Watch this space.


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Help wanted

We never needed to put this in the newsagents window, but I thought you might like to see the advert we wrote for a driver. You can see how very unplanned we were.

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