In the final part of the Jaywick series we check out the much larger and more famous neighbouring seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea, one of the last traditional seaside destinations in the country.
Clacton. Class and restaurants. Out of place at a well laid table. A seafront walk. Returning to the underbelly. A moment, sand and no stars. Porcelain.
Our last night in Jaywick. We got a ride into Clacton with a mind to walk back along the seafront later. There’s a pier here, with an arch bridge on the road leading down to it and two small white towers on either side of the entrance building. It’s tacky in the all ways that are appropriate for a British seaside town. To a foreign tourist it would probably be one of those unknown gems; a look into the traditional entertainment of seaside culture in the UK. Slot machines with cheap toys on thinly stacked two pence pieces, karaoke, crazy golf, mobile fairground rides. Windy beaches and a grey sea and candy floss.
We ate dinner at Prezzos, an Italian chain restaurant with post-modern décor; all smooth surfaces, marble and shiny fixtures. The total opposite to the Seafisher’s Hand, everything here is very proper. You can’t hear clattering from the kitchen. It’s the sort of place that makes me and Ben feel slightly under-dressed.
It made me think back to the Seafisher’s Hand. Working class accents and lairy cartoons for interior design. No varnished wood with square patterns in the grain, instead blasted laminate cloths over assembly hall tables. Unpretentious in the extreme. Then you have this place. Being a chain restaurant means the really monied won’t care for it, too much like a production line. But the staff here appear healthier, their uniforms look tailored and they are mostly from out of town. Pretty eastern Europeans.
And I wonder, could that young woman that was in the Seafisher’s Hand have worked in Prezzo? She looked distinctly working class, had the facial symmetry and clothes and speech to prove it. Really, there was no difference between her and the waitresses in Prezzo, besides an illusion of status; better to be a waitress in Prezzo than a greasy spoon and better to be working the Hilton than Prezzo. But her standing was given away too easily by her bone structure and environmental ticks; so she works all the jobs that need doing in Jaywick while Prezzo scouts the hottest and slimmest immigrants it can manage.
Probably also women trying to improve upon working class origins.
Anyway, food and service was good in both places…
We walked back from Clacton along the promenade, listening to James Brown, Bob Marley and the Chilis. When we arrived by Jaywick’s abandoned in-door market, we climbed the seawall, dropped to the beach and made the rest of our way across the sand, the waves breaking quietly maybe 15 metres away.
‘Slow down,’ said Ben as we walked. ‘This is a jam track. Go with it.’
He was right. I matched my pace to the beat of Porcelain. Ben bent down to pick up a handful of sand and released it from between his fingers. I did the same; cold, chalky granules and stones waterfalled out of my fists. When I stood up and looked back at the town, I couldn’t see any stars but there were the triangular silhouettes of roof tops over the sea wall and behind that a dark blue landscape in the clouds.
Porcelain, do you carry the moon in the your womb?
Someone said that you’re fading too soon
Drifting and floating and fading away
You can find information about things to do in and around the Clacton/Jaywick area here, a pretty comprehensive guide. It’s also where I borrowed this article’s lead image from.
The rest of the Jaywick series is here:
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