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A gang of Teletubbies have a kickaround. A passing chimney sweep lectures on the offside rule, cheered on by a tin soldier. Oh my God, Bognor is the most boring place on earth. There is nothing interesting about it, and this blog would have set new records in mundanity, if it weren’t for the fact that on the day we visited, the town was being taken over by the Bognor Beer Race, or in Nhung’s words, “Bognor fucking Mardi Gras”.
candy stripers

candy stripers

It took us a while to work out what was going on; confronted by a gaggle of men in superhero outfits, we thought it was some sort of Fathers For Justice cock-off. When we asked an assistant in the first charity shop we saw (Nhung as we arrived in town, “I’m starving, we must go to a café right now – oh, there’s a charity shop”), he barked, “I don’t know, it’s not the town council”. But eventually we got the info out of a youth dressed as Yoda. Apparently the Bognor Beer Race is a charity fancy dress pub crawl organised by students from the nearby campus of Chichester University (noted for its physical education courses…hmmm) and as such, is the highlight of the boring Bognor year.

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Oh dear. I hate to reinforce the orthodox view, (Bognor was described as “bright black with here and there a vivid streak of grey” by Tony Hancock), but try as we might, we found precious little to get excited about in Bognor, apart from the rapidly fading novelty of being trapped inside a giant stag and hen party with a bunch of bellowing future PE teachers dressed as Inspector Gadget. We went to the charity shops –they were nearly all the worst charity shops in the world, although in one, we heard a woman talking about her quest for garden ornaments shaped like meerkats with nodding heads. We went to the market – it was the worst market in the world, filled with tat, but expensive tat. We went to the pier – it was the worst pier in the world, enthused with the grim greyness of a military encampment, rather than any seaside jollity. Even the crazy golf wasn’t very crazy.

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the worst pier in the world

In 1994, an IRA bomb went off in Bognor town centre, to this day, no-one knows why Bognor was targeted. My theory is that the terrorists were passing through on the way to Brighton, and the bomb got so fucking bored of being in Bognor that it spontaneously exploded rather than face another second of being there. Strangely, William Blake, James Joyce and Dante Gabriel Rosetti have all spent time in Bognor. Great art thrives where there are few distractions it seems.

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OK, it wasn’t all bad. We found a good second hand bookshop, with a policy for exchanging your old books for new ones. Whilst in there, we heard a woman go up to the counter and mysteriously breathe, “I’ve been thinking about that pussy willow…” Heather’s Café, where we had a breakfast snack, has a sign in the window saying “A free sausage for every dog”. Nhung perked up a bit when she spotted a nice brutalist tower block. Tamsin bought a tea towel so pretty that the charity shop lady remarked, “It seems wicked to use it”. And she was right, two months later; Tamsin still hasn’t been able to bring herself to besmirch it.

i was made for loving you baby

i was made for loving you baby

Nearing the end of the day, we went for an ice cream in Poppins Café and watched through the window as 2 men dressed as bananas walked past a little old lady having her photo taken with Gene Simmons from Kiss. Then we headed back to the station to await the replacement bus service, as the trains weren’t running that day. A solitary male Little Mermaid waited at the bus stop alone. “On a scale (geddit) of 1 to 10, how stupid do you feel?” asked the bus conductor. The Little Mermaid shrugged, tucked his tail into his pants and went home to his mum. He didn’t want to miss Eastenders.

Out to sea

Out to sea

Lost
(Almost) Nhung’s bag of books – left on the pier, but reclaimed in the nick of time
Interest in Bognor Regis

Found
‘Birds of Australia’ colourful tea towel
10 Agatha Christie novels
5 1960s Puffin books
6 1970s photography manuals
3 more books, including the final George Orwell paperback Nhung needed for her collection
A-line cream, red and blue chevron-striped skirt
Roll of expired camera film
Cuticle remover cream

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