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We visited Newquay because we felt its seedy grot would be a better match for Nhung’s aesthetics than a pretty-pretty Cornish seaside resort. But no-one could love Newquay the town, muck-sprayed as it is with mediocre buildings, a thousand surf shops all selling the same bland sludgy-coloured clothes and “gentlemen’s clubs” that no real gentleman would go within 50 feet of.
Our friend Arash had kindly offered to drive us there, so we spent a pleasant journey singing along to “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” and swapping stories. We were tempted to drop in at “Gnome World” on the way, but resisted, arriving in Newquay in time for lunch. For lack of anywhere better, we had chip butties in the beer garden of the Red Lion pub, which for some reason overlooks the road instead of the sea. However, we were targeted by formation-shitting pigeons, so in the end we all had to sit in a row, facing the wall, grimly chomping on our soggy nachos.
So we had a wander through the town, but could barely stomach its crass tedium. I’ve never had much interest in surf culture, but fake surf culture is even worse. Beer-swilling, bawling cocks in hideous shorts jostle for space along the narrow streets – these are the most pointless, loathsome people in the UK; sweaty, lumpen braggarts out for “a bit of fun”, at the expense of everybody else, destined to spend their middle-age as clones of their Daily Express buying parents, with every now and then, in their witless, bovine existences, a glimmer of suspicion that there are people out there who may be having real fun, and are no strangers to truth, beauty and art. But this sort of fun is a threat to Newquay Knob’s fragile sense of self, so in his world it must be stomped on and jeered at and spat on and befouled. Not that he’s aware of his motives – he’s just “having a laugh”. Haven’t you got a sense of humour?
Ahem, maybe veered off the subject there for a moment. In fact, one thing to note about Newquay is that nearly everybody in the town is young – and execrable as the stag party fuckwits are, they are I suppose at least providing jobs – and jobs and homes for young people are at a premium in Cornwall, decimated as it has been by self-centred, second-home owning scum, probably the parents of the aforementioned blaring fuckwits. OK, I’m ranting again, so we’d better leave the streets as soon as possible and head for the beach…and what a contrast, it’s glorious!
It’s huge; sweeping sands, playful sea, interesting caves, and within a minute the stench of the town is hurtled away. We clamber on the rocks, write “Lost Prom” in the sand and take snaps of surfers with man-boobs. We note that there are no emos here, though there are a type of maritime surfer/emo cross whom we christen “nemos”.
A sandcastle competition is taking place, with entries varying from a Gaudi-esque palace to a detailed sculpture of Spongebob Squarepants, all judged by a woman wearing a pair of rabbit ears. Nhung tries to photograph some of the entries but is hampered by something she terms the “paedo barrier”, designed to keep adults out of the way. The results are announced and the kids all joyfully kick and stamp their transitory artworks back into nothingness. For them, this is the highlight of the event.
We buy ice creams and continue our walk into the fishy-scented harbour area. We consider a day trip with a “1 hour pleasure mackerel” but it’s time to leave, so we head back to the car and let Gram Parsons soothe away our sunburns. Later on seeing, some of Nhung’s photos of Newquay, we almost forget the squalor of the town – she has depicted a mysterious, magical place with not a fuckwit in sight. Art may be a search for truth, but truth is subjective and the camera lies. If only it was always so easy to erase the fuckwits from existence.
Layers of skin (due to unexpected sunburn)
Patience with stag party idiot culture
First ice cream of the summer
Own way of seeing