‘Right, here’s a question for you,’ I say to John, ‘Eastbourne. Can we live here?’
Admittedly it isn’t on our list but as we are passing through and for want of other amusing conversation in the car, we may as well start here. It’s about ten miles from my dad’s where we’re camping out for the time being seeing how we’re both homeless and unemployed. This afternoon we’ve ventured out through the snowdrifts to see if any of the elderly residents of Eastbourne have survived this apocalyptic new dawn.
No we haven’t. We’re going to see Avatar. In 3d. Finally. And this is the only screen for about fifty miles. It turns out to be showing in what appears to be a chicken shed on an industrial park miles out on the far side of town. Where the only other shop is a JJB Sports. And, to help you picture the kind of place this is so that you can empathise some with our decision making, in the window of JJB Sports there is an enormous poster of Nike tracksuit trousers and underneath the kind of headline that makes me wonder whether it has been written by one of the Murdochian puppets at the Sun it is so panic-mongering. It says ‘2 pairs MAX per customer’.
This is the kind of place where they fear mobs of teenage boys rioting to get their hands on 8 pairs each of Nike tracksuit trousers. One for every day of the week and a special pair for going out pulling in.
So that is one clear strike in the ‘No’ box. Another bold strike for the cinema. The curzon soho it most definitely isn’t.
However, there are two strikes in the Yes box. Houses are cheap. And they come with mock battlements. Which would please Lula. We even pass one painted bright pink. Which would seal the deal for sure – a pink castle, she would think. She would live anywhere, including Guantamo, if it was painted pink.
Also, another strike in the yes box – we drive past a sign welcoming us to the Sunshine Coast, which I thought was somewhere in California, silly me. Maybe we don’t need to relocate to the other side of the world afterall. However, the sign looks like this…
so I revise my thinking and put another strike in the No box.
It has snowed some more by the time we leave the cinema. We turn on the satnav to navigate us through these retirement hinterlands. It does the job so well that within minutes we are through the hinterlands and into the wastelands. We follow her instructions through the police tape and past five abandoned cars. ‘This is a bit like The Road’ I think. Then we get stuck in snow.
John calls the satnav lady a very rude word and rips it from the windscreen. We exit the car. All around is silence. And starlight. And snow. And abandoned cars. Ahhhh. I get it now. These people haven’t gone for a midnight stroll through snowy fields.
I have a good idea. I saw it once in a film. You get branches and put them under the tyres to give you good grip. I start scrabbling about for branches whilst John stares at the 200 meters of snow covered hill ahead of us.
‘I think we will have to reverse down,’ he says.
I abandon my search for tree branches with a little nudge of disappointment. We reverse down, do a 50 point turn to avoid the drifts either side of the lane, then storm it up the other side. We recross the police line feeling like East Berliners who’ve made it to the other side. As I’m putting the cones back in place I realise that only two people from London would follow a satnav over a police line. We aren’t country folk, that much is clear.
I tally the strikes. On the plus side is the pink palace. And the fact that if I want some Nike tracksuit trousers I can buy not one but two pairs and then go next door to watch a film in a chicken shed. But not even that can ressurect Eastbourne from the can we live here ‘No’ pile.