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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Paignton Part 2

Originally published on Blogspot by Gethin Thomas November 20th 2021

In this second set there is a selection of varied shots covering the walk from the station in Part 1 to the harbour.

If you were a holidaymaker to Paignton and like many hundreds of thousands of people before you, you arrived by train, you would have to undergo trial by kitsch on your walk to the beach front.

The road is lined with pubs, cafes and beach shops all hoping you will part with some money on your way to the sea. Some offer beach essentials while others just offer temptation and almost certain disappointment.

There is a British tradition at the seaside of sex and innuendo some of it subtle but most of it completely in your face. One of the most famous traditions is that of the "Saucy Postcard", nearly all of which featured very large women and very small men with every possible double entendre you can imagine. We are not talking sophistication here.

This tradition has now all but disappeared, partly because we now have Social Media and all our friends and family back home are living our holiday minute by minute with us in real time, and partly because we are living in a new Victorian Age where even the original Victorian Double Entendre is now considered beyond the pale.

Beyond the pale - outside the bounds of acceptable behaviour. The paling fence is significant as the term 'pale' came to mean the area enclosed by such a fence and later just figuratively 'the area that is enclosed and safe'. So to be 'beyond the pale' was to be outside the area accepted as 'home'.

Strictly speaking the pale was a boundary between us and them, it protected the settlement of the community, beyond which was the uncivilised world. The description above found on Google is, I would say, slightly too delicate and refined. The term has been softened. It originally referred to the barbarians beyond the gate.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because if you cannot read the signs I will spell it out for you. The innocent looking fridge magnet in the top row showing the cartoon man having his toe nipped by a crab is a lot more than it seems. Seaside holidays mean sex of the irresponsible one night stand type with strangers, whose name you cannot remember in the morning, and crabs are what you catch from that sort of encounter. Seafood has nothing to do with it. Crabs is a euphemism.

All of this is a lot cleverer than it seems because while humorous both for adults and children, this fridge magnet appeals to the two audiences in two very different ways. That is the miracle of euphemism.

Euphemism- a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.

This row of slot machines below is also interesting because while each one warns that the products are not suitable for children under five years of age, they are at the same time placed at the height of a five year old. Each coin slot is roughly level with my knees.

I particularly like the genuine shark teeth that "are not toys" but "genuine fossilised shark teeth over 65 million years old collected by hand in marine sediments with consideration for the environment".

This gambling emporium helpfully provides an ATM for "cash on the move".

This next one is surely the stuff of children's nightmares. It is so wrong in so many ways. Who had the idea of a cow eating ice cream? That is my first question. Who then went one step further to anthropomorphise that cow and have it standing upright on two legs? Who then gave it hooves with which to "hold" the ice cream cone? Then a red waistcoat? Why didn't they just have it erupting out of a child's stomach like The Alien?

It is creepy, disturbing and quite horrific. The hooves are even turned around the wrong way, like that kid at school who was double jointed, who always made you squirm when he turned his arm inside out. Then there is the faraway look on the cow's face with it's glazed realistic eyes like the scene from the first Planet of the Apes movie where Charlton Heston escapes from the cage and hides inside a building only to find his fellow astronaut stuffed by ape taxidermists, in the human museum. Or maybe It's just me, having an overactive imagination?

Fab Ice Cream. Who remembers Fab Ice Cream? It's on the poster at the back. It wasn't my favourite but I do remember having it sometimes. It was more style over substance though because it came covered in "hundreds and thousands" or as they are now sadly and uninspiringly called "sprinkles" which frankly sounds more like another euphemism.

I hesitate to say this but looking back now I suspect they were a bit sissy and meant for girls, so I may only ever have sneaked one when my friends weren't looking. They were always disappointing, but the hundreds and thousands still promised something each time your memory had faded.

Oh no! I just googled it and they actually officially claim it to be covered in "sprinkles". Where is the pride in their heritage? How can you boast of it being the family favourite for fifty years and then use a word like "sprinkles"? It also says chocolatey. What does that mean? It means it's not chocolate as far as I am concerned. Western civilisation is doomed with "sprinkles" and "chocolatey". They actually go on to confess boldly and unashamedly, "chocolate flavoured coating".

"Fab treat size offers a smaller 3-in-1, permissible treat." Permissible by whom? The Government? The Police? Greta Thunberg? They contain 46 calories? Everything contains 46 calories. You just keep cutting bits off it until it is a size that has 46 calories. This lump of butter has 46 calories because it is particularly small for a lump of butter.

Having survived all temptation I am now on the sea front, as can be attested to by the Torbay Palms everywhere.

The punishing salt air does very wabi sabi things to anything iron. Salt and iron do not make great bedfellows, which probably explains why seaside councils decide to make everything out of cast iron, or steel like these shelters right on the front. It means they can keep occupying themselves for a hundred years continually painting everything in a pathetic attempt to stave off the inevitable decay.

That's where the wabi sabi comes in. I had only recently heard the term, but then I walk into a shop the same week and there is a book about it. How can something pass you by for more than sixty years and suddenly be ubiquitous. Two years ago it was Hygge, I'm not even going to go there because it is unutterably smug, unless you live in Denmark.

Wabi sabi though seems to be a thing I already did without a name. Like the man with no name and the man called horse. The man with no name was Clint Eastwood's character in the spaghetti westerns, who had no name because he never spoke. You see if you don't speak no one will know your name, they didn't have passports or driving licenses back then. A Man Called Horse was Richard Harris's character also in a western. He did talk, but he didn't speak Sioux so he might as well not have talked because the Sioux couldn't understand him so they called him horse. Hopefully not another euphemism.

So what does all this have to do with wabi sabi? Nothing. It just came to mind so I thought it should be added for depth of flavour and no context at all.

Wabi-sabi - (not to be confused with wasabi) In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.

Perfectly achieved by Torbay Council here in the form of a neglected shelter, giving me the opportunity to photograph my favourite rusty bits and bobs.

Not the two guys on the bench.

I am not sure why I took this shot, there was just something about the display of books that I quite liked in conjunction with the two layers of windows and the peeling paint. More wabi-sabi.

I had the feeling that this cottage was slowly being consumed by nature.

By now it was the end of September, so neither summer or half term, but a sort of tourism limbo land. This meant I was almost the only person to be seen in the harbour. Certainly no cruising today.

This tiny rowboat is for some reason called Kariba, which I thought unusual. The Kariba Dam is in Africa between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is a pretty staggering thing and worth a look at on Google maps. It holds back the largest man made lake in the world. But to me the most amazing feature is that in relation to the lake, the dam is tiny. The dam is 579 metres (1,900 ft) long, but the lake it holds back is 280 kilometres (170 mi) long, just imagine that for a moment. It holds 185 cubic kilometres (44 cubic miles) of water. Take just a moment to try if possible to visualise that quantity of water.

Just outside the harbour is The Queen Victoria cruise ship. The south coast of England was one of the refuges for some of the worlds greatest cruise ships during the pandemic. At times there were up to eight massive cruise ships just here in Torbay. Soon after this shot was taken The Victoria left port.

MS Queen Victoria (QV) is a Vista-class cruise ship operated by the Cunard Line and is named after the former British monarch Queen Victoria. The vessel is of the same basic design as other Vista-class cruise ships including Queen Elizabeth. At 90,049 gross tonnage (GT) she is the smallest of Cunard's ships in operation.

I like this shot for the incongruity of the pleasure cruise booths and their primary colour advertising with the totally different type of cruise on offer onboard the Queen Victoria in the distance.

She is currently crossing the Atlantic headed for Bridgetown Barbados where she is due in five days time.

In the ongoing infantilization of the human race that is underway we can expect more names like the Curious Crab as we already have the Giggling Squid and the Winking Prawn. Coming soon, the Hilarious Herring, the Silly Starfish, the Moronic Monkfish, and the Entitled Eel.

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