Thursday, 19 September 2013

Lowestoft

 The Town that Time Forgot

Seven incredibly long years ago I moved to the town of Lowestoft, which is on the Suffolk/Norfolk border. Before this I had been living in the East London/Essex area of the UK. I will not be going into the reasoning behind this strange decision, but suffice to say, it seemed a good idea at the time. For any readers not familiar with the town of Lowestoft I will endeavour to give you a brief description of its history, locality, and its present condition.
Many years ago Lowestoft was famous for herrings, and inbreeding. It's most famous son was John Betjeman. That's the history bit out of the way. The town is situated at the most easterly point in the United Kingdom, so to its east there is nothing but the North Sea. The town boasts the "Most Easterly Post Office", "Most Easterly Cafe", "Most Easterly Carpet Salesman" etc. The nearest motorway (highway for my American readers) is the M25 which is over 100 miles away. A train to London will take you 3 hours (if you're very lucky). The town itself is split in two by the River Lothing. There is a bridge over this river that rises every time a small yacht wants to go sailing in the North Sea. The traffic then waits on both sides of this bridge, while the crew of the yacht finish their gin and tonics and decide to pull up anchor.
Today's residents of Lowestoft consist of two distinct groups. There are the locals, and then there are the outsiders. The locals never, or very rarely leave Lowestoft. The only exception to this rule are the small minority of intelligent locals who leave the town to go to university and never return. The outsider group consists of the retired, and people who find it difficult to live in the real world. You might be asking, so what group does the sanctimonious twit who's writing this blog belong to? I'm in the group that I'd forgotten to mention, the ones trying to sell their house and get the hell out of here.
I would now like to tell you a true story that might help to illustrate the type of town Lowestoft is now. About a year after I moved here I received a letter from my teenage sons school informing me that they were going to be holding an Emergency Parents Evening to discuss the schools impending slide into "Special Measures." Basically like all the schools in Lowestoft, they were CRAP, and they hadn't been able to hide this fact any longer.
So on the day of the Emergency Parents Evening I finished work early in order to arrive at the school in plenty of time. My first thought as I drove into the completely empty school car park was that I had got the wrong date. It was dark, and completely deserted. I got out of my car and walked slowly towards the reception. I pushed on the glass doors and thankfully found that they opened. A lady was sitting behind a small desk polishing her nails. "Good evening, I've come for the parents evening," I said. She flicked her head in the direction of a door to her right. Thinking she might be dumb (in that she couldn't speak, not that she was an inbred local) I walked through this door and found myself in a large classroom which had been turned into a meeting room for the evening. Tables had been pushed together to make one very large boardroom style table, with approximately sixty chairs surrounding it. At the far end of the classroom to where I had entered there were two men in suits standing chatting, and pouring coffee from a glass jug. Seated at the table to their left was a man and a woman, they were both eating biscuits from a large plate which had been placed on the table in front of them. This couple (I will call them the "biscuit couple") never acknowledged my arrival, or uttered a single word throughout the evenings proceedings.
"Good evening," I said. "Who are you?" asked one of the men wearing a suit.
"I'm George's (not real name) dad, he is in his last year here, I've come for the meeting."
"Oh,....you better take a seat."
Once seated I removed a notebook from my briefcase, and placed this along with a pen on the table in front of me. Looking back in hindsight I can now see how strange this must have seemed to the two suited gentlemen in the room.
"Right, let's get this over with," said the older man in the suit.
"Shouldn't we wait for the others?" I asked.
"What others?" said the younger man in a suit.
"But,...all the other chairs, the other parents," I replied. The two men both chuckled.
"Would you like a coffee?" said the older man.
"No thanks." I said politely.
"Biscuit?" he asked.
"No," I said.

So the "Emergency Parents Evening" began. 

To be continued.