Nothing Important then

Nothing Important Then

It was Nhung’s idea. She saw a raffle and insisted we enter it. The little community fête at the Clinton Centre was in aid of the local lifeguard service and the raffle prizes were clearly all unwanted gifts from hated aunts. Why not the tombola? At least the winnings are useful; a tin of mushy peas, 4 pack of bog roll, raspberry squash. But according to some unwritten Lost Promenade law that only exists in Nhung’s head, the raffle it must be.

Community fête

Community Fête

As well as the raffle, there’s a bric-a-brac stall laden with battered shoes; fairy cakes (proper old-school flat-looking things – none of your modern cupcake nonsense) and a cup of tea with a custard cream for 30p. So we have one and Tamsin tries to decide what’s more revolting, the adjacent screaming toddler encrusted in half-digested jelly or Nhung’s plans to have taxidermy lessons. It’s a close-run thing. We find out what time the raffle tickets are being drawn so we can return later, and head off to explore the small seaside town of Seaford.

clinton centre

Clinton Centre

Seaford is charming. It’s sedate and old-fashioned, but twinkly in the sun, and everybody is super-friendly (except for an old lady who, when Nhung put her bag down on a garden wall came running out of her house, shouting “What are you doing? What are you doing? I saw you pick something up”). There are funny little shops; ‘Eggs and Spreads’ which sells eggs and spreads; a lovely traditional pharmacy; ‘Just For Ladies Lingerie’ – with a window display of thermal vests, Winceyette dressing gowns and a green Halloween witch’s mask – and ‘Anyone Can Fish’, run by Tony, who likens fishing to meditation. Nhung nearly buys a snood from him, but is put off by its camouflage print, so settles for some portable fish weighing scales instead, which she plans to use to measure her bags when travelling.

Anyone can fish

Anyone Can Fish

In one charity shop, Nhung says, “I’m looking for a butter dish”, and a woman who is also looking for a butter dish overhears and they have a conversation about butter dishes. In another one, Nhung finds an amazing vintage wool coat, which will be the basis of her winter look. Its discovery causes her such happiness, she almost skips her way around town for the rest of the day. And at yet another one, Tamsin spots a fairly horrible, itchy looking jumper with pictures of sheep on it that she thinks might interest Nhung. Nhung has wandered off down the street a little, so she calls out of the doorway, “Nhung! Nhung”. A passer-by thinks she’s shouting for her mum, and kindly replies; “She’s not there”. Seaford is great for second-hand shopping. As well as a good selection of charity shops, there’s a host of antique shops and junk shops, although one does sell the inevitable WWII German memorabilia/golliwogs that seem to so often be a feature of British seaside towns. This time the piece de resistance is a pot of SS-branded cold cream. Moisturiser for Nazis. Nice.

What with the finding of the lovely coat, Nhung’s on a roll and is asking to photograph Seaford townsfolk willy-nilly. One old man asks why she wants to photograph him and when she tells him about the blog, he replies “Nothing important then.”

Regency restaurant

Regency Restaurant

We have lunch in The Regency Restaurant, a traditional tearoom style place with wooden beams and pink and white check tablecloths, and then it’s time to go back to the Clinton Centre to join the 6 other people for the raffle draw. Ticket after ticket is drawn unclaimed and none of them are ours. The aim seems to be to make sure everyone who’s here for the draw wins something, and eventually sure enough – hooray! We are the proud owners of a pair of crystal wine goblets, a set of guest soaps, some tealights and a Parker pen. Result.

untitled

Untitled

After all that excitement, the only way to relax is to visit Seaford Museum, which is housed in a Martello tower on the seafront – one of the few of such towers open to the public in the country. If the Lost Promenade has one word of advice to anyone reading this blog, it is this; visit Seaford Museum, you won’t regret it. It’s basically one of the best museums we’ve ever been to.

It’s a paltry £1.50 to get in and at first seems fairly unremarkable. The air is ripe with a musty smell similar to Newhaven Fort and the main building is packed with flotsam and jetsam collected from the beach and the usual bits and bobs you might find in an average museum of local history. But then we walk through a doorway to the 5000 extra square feet under the fort…

Seaford Museum

Seaford Museum

A room full of radios! A wall plastered with sewing machines! A commode called a ‘Thunder Box’! A collection of vacuum cleaners and old computers! Spooky 1970s mannequins! Cameras, a model railway and a soap in the shape of a ventriloquist’s dummy! Seaford Museum has one of the most random and fascinating selections of miscellanea we’ve ever seen. All collected from local people, the contents tell the story of ordinary lives in a haphazard and random way. But this is the reality of life; not a rigidly structured narrative, but a confusing and circuitous wonder cabinet of fancies and oddments. Faded ephemera with hand-drawn labels, dead technology, cultural hodgepodge and skulls. Trying to find order in this confusion is a natural reaction; to collect it, to catalogue it; like the Lost Promenade, starting with the pieces around the edges to try to make sense of it all. It’s “nothing important”, but it’s everything to us.

Seaford Museum

Seaford Museum

Our reveries are disturbed by one of the museum’s pensioner volunteers – why are we taking photographs? We tell him about it and then overhear him say, “Those two ladies have an Internet Programme and are going to write about the museum”. Oh dear, I hope they don’t read the Lost Promenade before this is published and worry we’ll be snarky abut them. How could we be?

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Untitled

After the delights of the museum, we wander along the seafront to look at the cute, colourful beach huts and try, in vain to find an art deco seafront shelter, of which there is an old photograph in the museum. We go back to a junk shop so Nhung can buy a biscuit tin that has been preying on her mind since Tamsin’s suggestion that she could “use it as a Ladytin to keep hairslides and stuff in.” She’s still skipping with excitement over her new-old coat and about Seaford generally. Not even some children running up and down the train on the way home shouting “Bogies!” can dampen our mood. We confused some old people, we explored a wonderful museum, we won the fucking raffle. Seaford (pronounced “Sea Ford”) – you may think we’re unimportant, but that’s OK. You’re nice.

untitled

Untitled

Lost

Snood not bought from the tackle shop

Art deco seafront shelter

Nhung’s butter dish (to be continued in the next Lost Prom entry…)

clinton centre

Clinton Centre

Found

Two hairbands – one black, one grey

Vintage herringbone wool coat by Lama-Laine

Huntley & Palmer biscuit tin with seagulls design

Plain black hairslides

Lip balm

Universal Film Splicer (for Super 8 film)

Parker Pen

Set of tealight candles

Charity shop Christmas cards

Pair of wine glasses

Guest soaps

Pink 1960s Ceramica Milano dressing table pot (for Tamsin’s collection of 60s china with pictures of pointy-chinned girls on it)

2 old postcards – 1 of Lily Brayton (early 20th Century Shakespearean actress) and 1 of Croatian national costume

Fish weighing scales

China milk jug in the shape of a cat (the milk pours out of its mouth)

The best museum in England

Nhung’s Winter Look

barn theatre

Barn Theatre

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