Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Dunwich reversed

I went for a bike ride yesterday and took a look at the new outer harbour which they're building in Great Yarmouth. Yarmouth has a long spit of land which runs south from the tourist area to the harbour mouth, squeezed between the river and the sea, covered with warehouses and storage yards, many of them run-down or apparently derelict. There was once a caravan site here; a place where it was hard to imagine anyone would have ever wanted to stay.

Between the road and the sea was a narrow strip of wasteland and a beach that few people walked on, but now it's all changed. You can see the process here. It is strange to see the coastline extending into the sea on a shore that elswhere is being eaten rapidly by the waves. These cranes are supposed to start unloading containers later in the summer, although a male Cassandra with a face burnt almost black by the sun and a couple of diamond earrings told me, as we stood on the Haven bridge watching young men fishing the river for sea bass as the tide swirled out through the arches, that the outer harbour was a white elephant and the roads were in the wrong places and the trucks were only going to be allowed to move at night.

He was the first of two gloomy men who engaged me in conversation yesterday. The second was in Yarmouth railway station. He approached me and moaned about the fact that he'd looked up a ticket on the web then come to the station to buy it, but it was cheaper on the web. He was outraged. He couldn't understand it. The same ticket, but two different prices. 'Things are often cheaper online,' I said mildly. He responded by telling me about all the great bargains he'd picked up online - like a Wii for his grandson - but he kept coming back to the ticket. I suggested he might buy it on line, but that was no good. There was a wrong that needed righting. Eventually I edged away and escaped.

I suspect people kept talking to me because I was wearing an old flat cap belonging to Elli's dad. It must have made me look approachable, though why that would be I can't imagine, since Peter Elliott was renowned as one of the rudest, meanest pub landlords in Suffolk. And proud of it, too.

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