The Axe Valley Blues


Richard, according to my Uncle Anthony, was the most talented director in England. I have never had any real reason to doubt that, given the magnificence of some of his lavish productions.

As you know, Dear Reader, I am nothing if not a sceptic.

The only lingering doubt I have is that if Mr Eyre was as talented as people say he may have chosen to squander those talents in Seaton. The reason for this mischievous fancy is that everything that Shakespeare ever mapped is still living or visiting this seaside town.

I have, reluctantly, smoked outside its pubs, since the Authorities decided that the smell of grease improved the life chances of the staff. I have, uncontrollably, wept outside its walls remembering my Uncle Dick, whose wake is still held rightly as legend by the smokers who work; a party to celebrate and hold one’s water as long as one is able.

This town has drawn me to it with a more powerful pull than than the siren song that breathes upon a bank of mackerel:

The young Victoria could spot a winner from a mile off. Her patronage brought the well to do in their droves. The Master of the Axe Valley had to contend with golfers, tennis players, footballists and cricketers. The iron steam ships disgorged them on the salmon strewn beach like lusty lizards. Wealth was an illusion for those lucky enough to spend it in the town. As ever, nothing lasts for ever.

For me, Seaton has always been Home in its original sense. It is a place where my memory told me my family lived whenever I felt that I may have no one in the world to call home. It may be a fantasy or a delusion but in the tough times that it the sort of delusion that is worth holding on to. Clinging to even to ward off the fear and the pain that human flesh is heir to.

Tonight Seaton is holding a Christmas carnival. I have never been one for carnivals. I hope it is beautiful.

I shall observe from The Eyre Court Hotel.


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