I’m visiting my folks in Essex, and arrived a day earlier than planned because of two days of train strikes. In theory I was supposed to buy new (expensive) tickets for my day of travel and get a refund on my unused (relatively inexpensive) Advance tickets, which seems like a good wheeze for GWR. But I chanced it with my original tickets and all the ticket gate controllers and ticket inspectors either didn’t care (“It’s not your fault”) or barely even glanced at the phone I waved at them. Ha ha, up the workers!
I popped to Walton-on-the-Naze today which has two new swish vintage clothes shops, a new “sustainable” 50% plant-based restaurant, and a new cocktail bar that, Googling informs me, hosts monthly poetry nights.
This feels like the closest I’ve seen it get a bit gentrified in my whole life of visiting. Who knows if it’ll last – making a living in a sadly declined seaside town must be very, very tough – but it’s nice to see new life.
§ On the recommendation of James A. Reeves, at his excellent blog Atlas Minor, I read James Bachelder’s The Throwback Special which I really enjoyed. Wonderfully written. I won’t go into it in detail because Reeves writes about it better than I would, and Matt Bell – from whom Reeves heard about the book – writes lots more, including:
It is about [American] football—or at least one particular football play—but it’s also about masculinity, about aging and nostalgia, about marriage and parenthood, about all the many small indignities and absurdities of being a person in the middle of your life, with your middle-of-life job and family, your middle-of-life body and mind. It is also not a particularly plotty novel.
Which is true – very little happens but it was absorbing. I found it hard to keep a lot of the many men distinct, and I wanted to know a lot more about them. But doing that would have made it a different novel.
I also remember the moment from 1985 that is the origin of the book’s events – the breaking of Joe Theismann’s leg in a football game. Despite not screening the game live, Channel 4 and the NFL must have decided the footage should be kept in the highlights package and so the vivid moment of Theismann’s leg bending in a very wrong way has lived in my head ever since.
But you definitely don’t need to have that image to enjoy the book.
§ I watched Eurovision, bailing before the voting, and was relieved there was still some social media chatter about it – I wouldn’t bother watching otherwise because I don’t even like any of the music ironically. But sharing a few funny messages with friends elsewhere makes it a worthwhile ridiculous event.
I feared that the decline of Twitter meant there’d be no chat, but enough of my Mastodon friends were watching so I was still able to waste a couple of hours. I had a brief look at Twitter and there were a few friends still using that for #eurovision, but a bit less. Nothing on Bluesky, which I assume is pronounced Bloo-skee.