an idiot in london


Monday, 24th April.
Hastings, Battle, wherever

You have to have priorities. I rang Mum when I got up this morning to find out the footy score. (There was no answer, so another 24 hours of suspense.)

Today I went to Hastings. The train left Victoria Station at 9:47, and took possibly the slowest route possible to Hastings. It arrived after 12noon, and Hastings isn't really that far from London.

As I boarded the train I noticed a caged area at the end of the carriage. Probably used for mail storage. Just as the train was about to depart, a group of people boarded the train. "It's probably where they keep the monkeys" said one voice. "Nah, it's like in the movies, it's where the dangerous animal or criminal is kept who then breaks free" said the second voice. Bloody Australians are everywhere. This bunch was from West Australia.

I tagged along with them when we got to Hastings. There was Shane, Rich, Jase and his girlfriend whose name I didn't catch and never really needed to use. "Where did the actual battle take place?" I asked as we walked along a pebble beach. "In Battle." "Right, so the Battle of Hastings took place in Battle." "That's right," said Shane, "they went to Hastings for the piss-up afterwards." "Kicking on at Hastings fellas? Kicking on!"

One of the many stations on the way to Hastings was at Eastbourne, which I'm told is called God's Waiting Room. More crumblies than you can shake a stick at apparently.

The shore is highly developed, like Bondi or Surfers. Bingo hall, stacks of fish'n'ship shops, and a couple of shops selling rock. (candy, that is.) It's very much a holiday town. There's a little amusement park with rides and stuff, a promenade, and a long line of cars queueing to get into the car park. Yes, it's good to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

We ended up at the site of Hastings Castle. After much wandering round, we all collapsed on the hilltop where the keep once was. After a few minutes basking in the sun, listening to the waves on the shore at the foot of the cliffs, feeling the breeze on our faces, Shane's and Rich's mobile phones both rang. " are ya mate...yeah...I'm in a castle..." Then they took turns rolling each other's backpacks down the hill. Childish, yet fun.

Eventually we headed back down through the town. "That must be an important place" Rich said, pointing to an insignificant looking house with scaffolding covering its facade. Shane explained to me that when they were in Europe all the important buildings had scaffolding on them, eg the Vatican.

Food was on the agenda. We found a dodgy-looking restaurant near the shore. And appearances didn't prove to be deceptive. I've discovered that when you order a burger in England that's really all you get. No lettuce, tomato, nothing. After we'd finished our nourishing meal, we were hit by possibly the biggest bird shit in the history of mankind. We could hear it splattering on the umbrella next to us before it reached us and hit the female member of our party. I was shielded by our umbrella.

Despite it's touristy outlook, Hastings is a real town. As we wandered down the mall, we were asked to sign a petition banning Nazis from marching in Hastings. "Hotbed for right-wing extremists, Hastings is." I said to Shane. "Really?" he said, "How do you know that?" "I made it up." I said wearily.