It seemed as if time itself had torn open, as we walked into the Victorian Tea Rooms on the slightly desuetudinous pier at Eastbourne; tea rooms which looked as they HAD been,not as they were, seeming encased in a carapace of artificial(plastic) flowers and of people, barely denizens of this earth, whose average age seemed seventy or eighty.
Closed cafes, a “chippy”, reeking of chip fat;rock, candy floss.Mostly closed up; it WAS mid October but, it seemed to me, it was hard to imagine it being that different mid summer.
This must have been how Brighton’s once glorious West Pier looked in its last years, becoming unsafe by the time it was closed to the public in 1975(a section having been previously already closed off). In earlier, prosperous days, there had been a grand ballroom, which, latterly had become a seedy amusement arcade, then closed entirely. Years after total closure, there followed a series of partial collapses of the buildings and structures, as parts of the pier slumped, like a palsied old man,half into the sea, as storms wracked the embattled, fragile building, and a restoration society repeatedly failed to renovate the building. After two arson attacks in 2003, all that remained was an iron, skeleton structure, part of which was recently removed, leaving a stranded island of bare iron girders, the poignant, original sweet and rock shop, Leverson’s, also having been demolished, the last surviving LIVING remnant of the pier.
As Sebald said, “And so they are ever returning to us, the dead”