A Walk to Bongville

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19 Responses

  1. Clare Stevens says:

    This is a wonderful piece of writing too. Keep doing it! I’ve missed your blogposts.

  2. Harry Rogers says:

    This is a great piece Ian and I like the way you pull no punches on the Bloomsbury assholes.

  3. Graham says:

    Ah, Ian. Some of us are still here. Some of us still live it, intimately. But it isn’t the same old town anymore. You can no longer get from one end to the other using only twittens for a start.
    I’ve never heard of Olivia Laing and obviously haven’t read her book. But she seems, from what you write, to have a similar view of the town to many of the current residents. For too many of them, it’s not much more than a dormitory, and I’m sure that ‘near Brighton’ is the preferred way of referring to the ‘Haven for an awful lot of them.
    But! Despite everything, there are still those of us who love the place. Yes, it’s dirty and tatty round the edges, it often looks like it could do with a good meal, and it could do with a good wash in parts, though deep down there’s a heart of gold. But that’s how I like my women, so that’s the sort of town that I’m happy to live in.
    And the shop’s still thriving! I take my grandchildren for walks in some of the old places and tell them stories of the bones of the earth buried beneath the footpaths and new buildings. I tell them of scrumping, of penny for the guy, and scuttling Jeff in a cow-field stream, knee deep in festering dissolving dung. My grandchildren think I’m a strange old git, but I buy them sweets and comics and stuff, so they still come back for more.
    I followed the link to your school photo; there’s still a couple of familiar faces here. Terry L. hasn’t changed, she’s still gorgeous.
    Ah. I have begun to blog again, under a different name than before.

    Thanks for bringing back memories, all best wishes to you & your Hilary, and stay angry!
    XG

  4. Catherine says:

    Lovely post. Viva Newhaven! Wonderful pub near the beach (forget the name, but it serves a lovely pint of Guinness and we met a very friendly dog who enjoyed sharing our Scampi Fries).
    On certain days, fresh fish to be had from fresh fishermen.
    And two railway stations….and the ferries….and a very perplexing one-way system…..
    Neighbouring town Lewes is really looking forward to hearing you read and talk about Something of the Night for the Monday Literary Society on 3rd December, Ian. I hope many Newhavenites (Newhavenistas?) will come to hear you, their prodigal son, too.
    http://www.mondayliterarysociety.co.uk

  5. chris smith says:

    You might prefer my walk “Newhaven Panorama on the travel log lewes web site” at http://www.travelloglewes.co.uk/index.php?page=newhaven-panorama

  6. Dave Langford says:

    First blog since I joined and a great rant to! Here in NZ things are much the same,in fact a film has even been made about my home town which is just titled Manurewa which apparently needs no further explanation.Same problems of no work etc.Still to look on the bright side as far as I know Ms Woolf never published anything condescending about it ,and to my knowledge the Laings have yet to stroll about the local creeks,so all good there,Dave.

  7. Dan says:

    I’ve not caught up with this site for ages and read this today – superb ‘essay’ if that is what you want to call it Ian – top work.

    I was reading it down and thinking about the Ouse. I did a school project and featured that viaduct – and know full well about them navigating the bricks up the river – as I read down I thought ‘I wonder if Ian knows that, if he doesn’t I’ll post and say so, he’ll be interested in that’ – but I read on and he does – superb. I got my dad to drive me up there so we could walk underneath and look at it. I don’t commute on that line (or any line these days) but travel over it several times a year – every time I look up from what I may be doing and look at the view both sides – whatever time of day or night.

    And then we have Newhaven – well said. Who can ignore the romance of the Night Ferry to Dieppe? I recall in about 1987 being probably the only foot passenger getting off a boat train from Victoria (yes at Newhaven Marine – thanks for the link – liked the Taxi story) and taking the ferry to Paris to join my family – in December I think – some bored customs officials could not believe it and cross questioned my teenage self at some length as to the purpose of my trip.

    I bet the Bloomsbury types love Dieppe!

    By the way – did the author manage to get in any pints of Harveys?

  8. Dan says:

    PS when I did that school project back in the early 80s – I’d never heard of these Bloomsburies I don’t think. They can’t have been that important to me. I’d see that viaduct though – and knew that river – and been messing about at Barcombe Mills when I was younger. I knew about new romantics (not sure about romantics though) and about punks. And about Harveys, and about Bonfire Night. And we went on the ferries nearly every year – even on school trips.

    And one of my friends family members worked at Parker Pens (and I even had a Parker 25!)

  9. A very enjoyable rant. My boyfriend lives in Newhaven, in a leaky and cold boat on Denton Island, with a lovely view of the incinerator. He is a fisherman. I agree with you, Newhaven is a psychogeographer’s dream. If I was a psychogeographer, I would psychogeograph the place, but I am a fiction writer, so instead I am currently writing a story set there. I live in east London and am so bored of reading psychogeography set there. Viva Newhaven! It’s bloody miserable in many ways, but as a writer it captures my imagination.

  10. Ian Marchant says:

    Thank you Rowena. Not THE boat by Denton Island?

  11. Ian Marchant says:

    Thanks Dan. The author just managed a couple of pints of Harveys, though sadly not in Newhaven…

  12. Ian, by ‘THE’ boat do you mean that total wreck near the ring road? No, thank god, things are not yet quite that bad. That hasn’t been inhabited for years, according to my boyfriend. I think the last inhabitant might have committed suicide, but don’t quote me on that: will need to check with my boyf. No he lives on a boat at Denton Island boatyard, the cheapest boatyard in the country, apparently. But this time of year when the fishing is terrible, he spends as much time as possible in my nice, warm(ish) flat in east London. I am bashing away at my Newhaven story right now, and have just used that Virginia Woolf quote in it. What a horrible snotty cow. I’ve read a few of her books, but I must say her precious mincing tone really gets on my nerves. I much prefer Katherine Mansfield, the only writer VW admitted to being jealous of because she suspected she might be better than her. Right, must get back to my story. Best wishes, Rowena

  13. Dan says:

    Thanks Ian

    Of course I enjoyed Vera Sackcloth Vest in BBC radio recent Gloomsbury and learned much from it.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/mediapacks/gloomsbury/miriam-margolyes.html

    Newhaven is not really on my ‘route’ when going to Sussex these days, so not been for a while. But I think next time I’m in the area I shall make a special trip and have a day out there. I suspect much to do and see.

    I’m up for the challenge, but the real test would be to try to head back to the family by getting a train from Newhaven Marine.

    To be honest – I think the main benefits to be gained for Bloomsbury Country would be to turn Newhaven into the main service centre of this themed area – this is where the massive hotels and the required theme park features would be – also the cruise ship docking terminal facility of course. Local people would need to eg dress in bloomsbury style prints and that sort of thing, and these could be imported into the harbour direct from chinese factories (to help cut carbon emissions of trucking such imports in from say Southampton or Felixstowe).

    Parker might have to open a ‘factory outlet’ – like the ones on former sites with no manufacturing of course so that you could ‘write your own bloomsbury novel’ with a Parker Pen.

    I can see your line of thinking on this – have you thought of a career in ‘inward investment’ Ian?

  14. alexc says:

    Great to see a good sussex words like, twitten.
    tbh, i have passed through Newhaven a few times, never stopped. I will do, good piece of advertising, if not intentional. I grew up over in west sussex, kind of a world a way, but not if your not from the in-coming, commute to work families. Good to see something, that says the South is not all wealth. Amount of cack you have to put up with at university when you said you were from the south and on an all grant entrance(back in the day)
    (to the point) More blog!

  15. Dear Ian, that story I was writing set in Newhaven (that I mentioned above) was published last week in Connecting Nothing With Something, an anthology from Influx Press: http://www.influxpress.com/connecting-nothing-with-something/#.UhSll9JOTTo
    Just thought you might be interested, being Newhaven born and bred. The rest of the stories/poems are set on the south east coast, mainly Margate and Hastings. There is a launch in Margate on Sat 21 September and there will be other launches in London and Hastings, yet to be arranged, but I believe you live in Wales so a very long way away.
    Best wishes and I hope your writing is going well.
    Rowena

  16. Btw, the Bridge Hotel has now closed. Only a couple of months ago. I never knew how historic it was until I read your above post. But all places have interesting history, even ones that are overlooked by writers because they are not glamorous.

  17. Rowena, do you mean the Harbourside, (previously The Sheffield) which has closed, prior to it’s redevelopment? The Bridge Inn in the town centre (also a hotel/B&B) appeared to be very much open for business earlier today.

  18. Hi, Chillizoe, no I did mean The Bridge Inn. My boyfriend said it had closed and that was back in May approx. It must have reopened recently. I’m glad it has. I didn’t know that the Harbourside was being redeveloped. Thought it was just closed for good. Best wishes, Rowena

  19. Or the Bridge Hotel, or whatever its called. We just call it the Bridge.

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