The Compostual Existentialist

Wordpress flavour with added crunchy bits


The Age of the Swan

Deep in darkest Dorset is the delightful coastal town of Swanage where, like most British seaside towns, time has stood still. During my tour of seaside towns I’ve noticed this is common place. For example, Douglas and the Isle of Man are trapped in a Scarfolkesque late 50s early-60s time bubble, Scarborough in a weird pre/post-mining eighteen/nineteen eighties decay, Skegness screams nineties revival, while Margate and Torquay languish in a struggling time recession of post-industrial Britain 1986.

IMG_2944.JPGSwanage however sits in a semi forgotten hauntological time zone where grandparents who, having retired to the seaside, now live. Independent shops,  discrete amusement arcades and a well kept promenade with formal gardens show that Swanage is the Utopia of seaside towns. Even the pier, currently undergoing refurbishment, lacks the usual British Pier atmosphere of kiss-me-quick hats, the aroma of fresh doughnuts and the sound of wailing kids.

IMG_3016.JPGGetting to Swanage is probably best when approached from the east. Catching the chain ferry from the Sandbanks area of the conurbation of Poole-cum-Bournemouth, is like catching a ferry to some foreign country only without the need for border or passport checks. Indeed, once you arrive in Studland, even the landscape looks alien making you feel like you’ve gone abroad for the bargain price of £4.50. Then when the weirdly independent town of Swanage comes into view, the feeling of being in some weird off shore British island like Jersey, the Isle of Man or White is stronger. Moreover, possibly the biggest difference to other typical British seaside towns is the regularly audible and familiar toot and chuff of a steam engine for Swanage is home to the Swanage steam railway. Unlike Douglas in the Isle of Man, steam is not the main form of public transport to neighbouring areas in Swanage, it is, however, the easiest way to get to the eerie Corfe Castle.

IMG_2991.JPGThe crumbling edifice of Corfe Castle looms out of the sea mist and inspires thoughts of knights, kings, princes and dirty peasants. Some say it inspired Enid Blyton’s Kirrin Castle in her Famous Five books, but you really could say that about any of the castles in the area indeed, it is clear to see why the area attracts coach loads of tourists and often the tiny streets of Corfe Castle village are riven with ambling shufflers gawping at every nook and cranny, some unable to comprehend the age of the place when compared to their own country’s history.

IMG_2954.JPGFurther into Dorset one can also visit, by contrast, the town of Weymouth with its award winning beach. However, step beyond the hustle and bustle of the Blackpoolesque promenade and enter the ramshackle and tatty environs of the town, one can clearly see how lack of investment in seaside towns has become detrimental to the social community and infrastructure at large. Empty high street shops, lumbering shufflers and decaying buildings. Tattoo and massage parlours, the miasma of cooking takeaways and openly smoked cannabis, the sight of drugged up beggars and opportunist criminals highlights the betray and decay of a society through lack of investment promised by successive local government officials who no doubt only visit the area when official business requires their presence.

IMG_2947.JPGHowever all is not entirely gloomy. The Bill of Portland where Portland stone is still quarried is nearby, where it too attracts coaches of tourists with its lighthouse and scenery. As a young boy I would look longingly at my wall hung A0 map of the UK while listening to BBC Radio 4’s Shipping Forecast and try to imagine how sweater wearing bearded seaworn gentlemen would be struggling against the elements while putting on their Sou’westers and galoshes. The reality is dramatic but features no stereotypical fishermen these days.

Another location worth a visit and one that also the young Stegzy would dream about visiting is Chesil Beach; a unique natural heritage site where one can observe for ones self the effects of coastal erosion on stones. As well as an expanse of stones stretching out towards West Bay and Exmoor, there is a fantastic visitors centre which hopefully will inspire other young people to enhance their knowledge about the natural coastal forces and nature.

Back at Swanage as the sea mist rolls inland and the occasional eerie toot of steam train is heard, the contrast of investment in coastal areas is plain to see. From the modernist style of the cinema/theatre the Mowlem, to the well kept promenade with discrete amusment arcades. It seems the regions tourist board relys heavily on the natural wonders of the Isle of Purbeck, and why not! A visit to the nearby Durlston Country Park and Anvil Head will no doubt summon thoughts of misplaced childhood adventures, perhaps exploring the long closed Tilly Whim Caves or scrambling over the rocks to Anvil Head Lighthouse.

In all Swanage is very genteel. A relaxing locale for those more interested in nature and natural beauty over rowdy bars and vomit soaked pavements. I’d definately go back.

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TV For sale

Last night I thought I’d watch some TV. So I picked up the TV guide and thumbed through it with the express intention of finding something to watch. My head exploded with despair. After I picked up the pieces of skull and brain I had splattered all over the living room I analysed the scheduled programmes I had missed.



UK TV

For the benefit of our Merrycan and European cousins let me explain how TV works in the UK. If you want a television receiver in your house you must have a licence. You can have a black and white CCTV monitor without a licence as long as the equipment is not capable of receiving a television signal. To have video recorders, TV’s or even a Computer with a TV card, regardless of whether they are connected to an aerial or not, in the UK you must have a TV licence.

The proceeds of which go to fund the BBC who make great TV programmes when they try. Furthermore, the BBC are also allowed to raise revenue by selling their programming to other networks worldwide. However, they are unable to make revenue by advertising so unlike in Merrycar where…

<Commercial Break>

Join the army from stegzy gnomepants on Vimeo.

Buy this car, it will make you seem more financially buoyant than your friends. Encourage your partner to buy one too that way you can feel more superior to your neighbour who never seem to invite you their kinky sex parties

</commercial break>

you get adverts every two minutes and the programmes are really just advertising space fillers

<Commercial Break>

 

 

 

Slurpro from stegzy gnomepants on Vimeo.

Have no life? Text “Mugme” to 833434 and get a free ringtone every 20 minutes (The ringtone is free but the text will cost you £4305 a letter) Go on! Your life will seem pointless and might as well end unless you have these ringtones!

</commercial break>

which can get a bit annoying after a while. Anyway because I pay just over £100 a year to the government BBC I get to watch a handful of advertisement free channels. Further more, if I feel I want to be sold to or have every intricate moment of a drama explained to me as though I am a thicko with no clue whatsoever then I can watch ITV who gain their revenue mostly from the sale of advertising space, or I can enjoy the relative “I’m immune to advertising but I’ll watch this interestingly subversive factual current affairs programme aimed at the 20-45 age bracket” chinstrokery of Channel 4 (when they are not showing Big Pervert or something). Indeed, if I feel that I haven’t had enough Americanisation I can tune into Channel 5 and get a fix of syrupy slush whenever I feel like it.

That is until recently. When the powers that be decided that 5 channels isn’t enough and we needed to fall inline with the rest of the world and have Digital TV. Behold Freeview. A multi channel sewer of creativity, behold several other BBC channels (for free) such as BBC3, BBC4, BBC News 24, CBBC (for kiddies), CBeebies (for kiddies that don’t know they are kiddies yet), ITV2, ITV 3 and ITV-somewhere-near-the-bottom-of-the-list-so-you-never-remember-its-there-4, More4, E4 (for yoofs that do EEE’s man), Film Four, UKTV Hitler Coast Alan Titchmarsh’s Natural History History, Q-PVC, Bid up, Bid down, Bid sideways all manner of shite and dirge.

All for free.

Because I pay just over £140 a year.

Good that isn’t it?

What’s more is some people pay a further £400 a year for the privilege of watching everything that has been shown on the free channels in the past again and again, more American TV and the experience of being sold to every 15 minutes (yet more adverts).

Ace.

I dont agree with paying twice for something I’ve already paid for so instead I tend to download illegally programmes I really want to watch (ie reruns of old Dr Who and Lost) or rent and rip via LOVEFilm. But each to their own I suppose.


Anyway I read the TV schedule and this is some of the “quality” televisual treats available for the general British public:-

fatdogMy Dog is Fat and So am I

Fat people and their fat dogs. Gripping reality TV.

NOT

bread-head-and-feet
Freaky Foods

– Fat? Watching telly? Hell you’ll never eat again after watching this (Though you’ll still watch telly…wont you?)

 

 

Celebrity Dog Superstars

– the public vote for their favourite celebrity so that the rescued dog they are looking after doesn’t get put down

Celebrity Knitwork

The public vote on their favourite celebrities knitting patterns. This week Imoelda Staunton knits a spectacle case out of her own navel fluff

38007_2 Something without that annoying prick Patrick Keilty

A programme, possibly the news, without Patrick Keilty. His mum will be disappointed

 

 

 

 

 

fogle_676528a

 

Something with Ben Fogel in it

He’s not on telly enough these days so slap a repeat on and nobody will notice.

 

 

I was a Celebrity But I Bummed Some Rabbits in Michael Barrymore’s Swimming Pool While off my face on Crystal Meth Make Me Famous Again (Please)

Washed up has-beens vie to be famous once more for 15 weeks while they try to rebuild their career by doing things they wouldn’t normally lower themselves to do had they still had some self respect left.

 

Don’t Poke Me with a Spoonimages

Situation comedy, probably about a married couple who secretly hate each other and the trials and tribulations of everyday life with teenagers. With canned laughter in case you don’t know where to laugh.

 

 

Holidays you’ll never afford

– Watch dreamily as a washed up public school ponce that used to be an interior designer shows you “holidays you’ll never afford unless you sell your children for medical experiments and maybe burn your house down for the insurance” in far off countries you’ve never heard of and are probably made up anyway.

 

17.6

IF…The World Still Had Protozoan Sludge

– Popular science scientists and people crying out for research grants discuss what 21st century life might be like if the world was still covered in Protozoan sludge in an effort to justify the millions of pounds already wasted on them by popular Universities.

 

 

 

 

My Mother was Adolf Hitler

Someone like Adam Hart-Davies bumbles about the countryside on a unicycle interviewing friends of Nelly Bainbridge of Stithians who always claimed to be Adolf Hitler who escaped occupied Germany in a shoe box and had a sex change to disguise his identity.

 

 

 

 

 

Old King Coal

Soap Opera set in Yorkshire following the fortunes and struggles of a typical family during the Arthur Scargill era. Cunningly set at a time where if the soap isn’t popular they can end the series by closing darn t’pit. Starring Dr Who’s David Tennant as Arthur Scargill.

 

 

 

Dead Hicks

Science fiction drama for thirty-somethings filmed in and around Solihull where every week parts of which are substitute for far off places such as Delhi, New York and Birmingham. This week the team are visited by their arch-nemesis, the sinister Tax Inspector (played by Patrick Keilty)

I’m so grateful I spend £142 a year on this quality programming. Its like Waitrose selling Kwiksave No Frills Bread. After all it must be good if Waitrose sell it!


This post was originally posted on my Livejournal in 2007