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A mediocre trip abroad spent in tedious company? What better way to recoup than to take a Lost Prom trip on a beautiful summer’s day? Nhung had just returned from an underwhelming holiday so the time was right to shake the etch-a-sketch of life and start drawing a new adventure. In, erm, Hastings.
Nhung was already there, having spent the previous night drinking pink sambuccas with an 80s ex-synth-pop star, so Tamsin made the train journey alone, diverted by the conversation going on across the aisle:
“Who’s that one a bit like Robson Green? Nesbitt…Nesbitt something?”
“That’s the one, you don’t see him much these days, or Robson’s mate…Jerome is it? What happened to him? And the other one like that? Nick Berry? You don’t see him anymore – what was that thing he did? Coastguard?”
Once we’d rendezvoused at the station, first stop was a caff, to treat Nhung’s prodigious hangover. The decor of Hoagie’s Cafe; bright yellow walls with multi-coloured pagan grafitti murals of witches and demons isn’t exactly conducive to serene stomachs, but then Hastings was the last home of Aleister Crowley so you have to make allowances. The proprietor had a pentacle pendant and an auburn beehive, and our cool peroxide-quiffed waitress, Leila, had a very agreeable nature, for instance:
Lost Prom: “What milkshake would you recommend?”
Leila: “Raspberry’s the best”
Lost Prom: “Hmmm, I think I’ll try banana”
Leila: “Yeah! That’s my favourite!”
However, she knew her own mind when it came to technology. When Nhung got her Holga out to take her picture, she exclaimed in horror, “There are digital cameras you know…”
In terms of shops, it seemed at first there wasn’t much to inspire, apart from a good Oxfam bookshop where Nhung got excited about a set of 1980s Storyteller tapes, and a strange little mews mall selling only specialist items: tartan kilts, biker gear, ethnic food and the foulest t-shirts the world has ever seen, all spirit animals, gambolling kittens and lots of faux-Native American fringing. However, the old town was a different puppy altogether, it’s like Brighton might have been 15 years ago – lots of charismatic little twittens, full to bursting with head shops and antique dealers. Curiosities and suprises round every corner. And then we found the motherlode.
For some time Nhung has been on a quest for the perfect vintage prom dress, but had so far been foiled by two deadly enemies – her breasts. You see, prom dresses were made for teenage girls only just beginning to blossom outwards and Nhung has already blossomed*. So every dress she’d tried so far hadn’t fit right. But ‘Wardrobe’ dress agency in Hastings had just taken delivery of an amazing cache of authentic 1950s prom dresses, apparently all once belonging to the same glamorous debutante. Nhung didn’t know where to start. She tried on 4 beautiful frocks – all had the same problem – no room for the bazoom – even with the help of the shop owner literally loading Nhung’s wabbers into it like she was stuffing a Canada goose – but the 5th dress was the dream dress. Royal blue organza with a white flock print, full skirt, perfect fit. The perfect prom dress was attained! And Tamsin didn’t go away empty-handed either. She found a really cool 1970s hibiscus-print bikini.
So Tamsin had her bikini, Nhung had had the foresight to pack one, the day was glorious, the shopping itch was scratched – sunny days are so unusual you’ve got to grab any chances that come your way, so off to the beach to sunbathe. Despite the rare hot sun, the beach was deserted – if we were in Brighton, there’d be hardly an inch of free space amongst the pasty boobs and vulgar shorts. Another reason to like Hastings.
We had time for a quick look at the fisherman’s huts and the funfair (where we were enchanted by a cute indie boy working on the ghost train, Amelie-style). But there was so much more to do and see that we didn’t have time for. The rest of the old town, the funicular lift, the pedalos, the smuggler’s caves: all that will have to wait for another day. Hastings – we will be back. And next time we’ll strap our breasts down.
Storyteller tapes – they didn’t have the full set so Nhung passed
Aleister Crowley – no references anywhere unless you count Hoagie’s paint job
Patience with the tedious person who tried to spoil our day by leaving whiney passive-aggressive messages on Nhung’s voice mail
Lots of money in Wardrobe
The rest of Hastings Old Town that we didn’t have time to see
Green and white hibiscus print 1970s bikini
Black velvet Victorian style skirt suit
White leather pixie boots
Tin with a picture of a little girl and a kitten on it
3 Choose Your Own Adventure books
Multi-coloured 1950s picnic bag
3 Enid Blytons, 3 Puffin books and a 1950s children’s book called ‘The Cat with No Fiddle’
Consolation for holiday disappointment
The ultimate prom dress!
* Nhung would like to point out that although this passage may give the impression she has enormous breasts, they are in fact modestly sized – just too big for dresses made for pre-pubescent girls. She is very happy with her boobly lot thank you very much.