Magazine article The Spectator

I Beg to Differ.England

Magazine article The Spectator

I Beg to Differ.England

Article excerpt

Many years ago I lived in Sydney, and spent a lot of time at the beach. The sand was fine and hot, the beer was cold, and wherever you dropped your towel you could hear the Beach Boys bouncing from a thousand trannies.

Who could have asked for anything more?

But you know what? I missed pebble beaches. I'd stare wistfully into the middle distance and dream of the south coast of England. Pebbles meant England, pebbles meant home.

The pebbles I grew up with were at Shuart Beach, in Thanet. Thanet is not pretty. It is flat, and full of cabbage fields and smallholdings and caravan parks. I love it. The place names make me smile: Plucks Gutter, Plumpudding Island, Sevenscore, Wagtail, Stodmarsh, Monkton, Sarre, Paramour Street, Pegwell Bay.

St Augustine landed at Pegwell Bay in 597 and 1,350 years later the Americans arrived at nearby Manston to protect us from the commies. Their jets thundered low over our cottage, shivering its ancient timbers: the adults winced, the children cheered. …

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