"We'll be having fun
all summer long..."

Surf's up along
our shoreline!

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"The madder the
sea, the better
our sanity..."

Living in peace with
your neighbours!

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Whitley Bay Guide 2008 Archive

Peter is a playwright, poet and editor who has been closely involved with the North East literary scene since the early '70s. His book, 'Mortimer at Large, Selected Columns from the News Guardian', was published in 2008 by IRON Press/North Tyneside Libraries. Visit Peter's website at www.peter
mortimer.co.uk


Peter has also written an article for our 2009 Whitley Bay and Tynemouth Guide which you may read here...
Terror, Shock... and Exhilaration!
by Peter Mortimer
I grew up about as far from the coast as is possible in England — an 80 mile trip from Nottingham to the Lincolnshire resorts of Skegness or Mablethorpe. Childhood visits were rare, but still vivid is the sense of sick excitement as the family boneshaker grew near the sea, that mystical force which has lost none of its mysticism despite me living here for more than 30 years.

To have the restless, ever-changing energy source just round the corner still seems extraordinary — and not costing a penny. Plus the luxury of that vast skyscape helping release all our pent-up frustrations, and at night times offering up a pollution-free spread of glittering diamonds on black cloth.

Let's face it, to live at the coast is to be permanently on holiday. But unlike the Lincolnshire coast where the sea goes out so far you often have to take it on trust, here it's never far from shore, insisting that you pay it heed.

You can see it, hear it, and smell it; come the Spring/Summer months, you can immerse yourself in it, which a few hardy souls do in all seasons. This cathartic activity combines terror, shock, exhilaration, and afterwards a high-octane sense of being alive that no artificial substances can match.

I arrived here by accident and stayed by design. As did many writers, painters and musicians. Once the North Sea is your neighbour, you don't want to lose it, and though the procrastinations of the local authority over the last two decades have messed around with our man-made structures, the natural coastline is more durable, our three great beaches, Tynemouth, Cullercoats and Whitley Bay (with little cousins King Edward's, and Brown's Bay), all mainly impervious to political machinations.

Like everyone else, I enjoy clear sunny days at the coast, but a word too for our distinctive sea fret, a highly localised thin grey blanket that suddenly drops, followed quickly by the sonorous tones of the Miss Fenwick fog horn. This fret — spooky, ghostlike, enigmatic — plus the generally uncertain weather helps save our unique coastline from too many developers and rich playboys. I for one can happily live without either group.

We should celebrate this fluctuating weather; it is part of our coast's character, and what shapes it, and us. Thus the necessity in the mornings, to take the short walk down to the sea before starting to write. It never tires of me. Nor me of it.
 
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