Life in the Old Town is nothing if not interesting. For example, I chronicled over the last few months the growth of a group of five baby Herring gull chicks who I watched from the back of my house. We know one didn’t survive and as the other four have gone I presume they all made it. But we’ll never know for sure. From time to time, a fledged gull will sit on the same roof and an adult gull will be with her. It’s difficult to tell but I assume that’s one of the four with one of their parents. Most of the gulls are fledged now but there’s still the occasional one or two on rooftops around and about. Their unmistakable cry like a squeaky wheel is omnipresent. The babies will be recognisable through to next year because their plumage doesn’t become fully white until after their first birthday. The gulls still kick up a racket all day and night. They’re at their noisiest now but as we approach the autumn their numbers begin to decrease and all the hyper-activity of rearing a family diminishes. So, they quieten down but their cries are part of the audio soundtrack of living in the Old Town. Frankly, I love hearing them and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else now without their banter and chit chat to catch up on daily goings-on.
The Old Town comes into its own three times a year when it’s Jack in the Green in May, the Carnival in August and Bonfire Night in October. These phenomenal events are community driven and organised as well as fundraising events for local charities. Talk about the Big Society! David Cameron would learn a lesson or two from the big-hearted folks who live in the Old Town and its environs.
Anyway, we’ve just had Carnival Week, which is basically a traditional English seaside summer celebration with a busy programme of various activities. One of the highlights this year was the attempt to break the world record of the greatest number of people dressed as pirates in one place. Apparently the record was held by somewhere with an unpronounceable name on the European mainland with some 1,500 people. The good people of Hastings couldn’t have that and smashed the world record with more than 6,000 people dressed as pirates in one place.
If that wasn’t enough excitement in one lifetime this week telly chef Jamie Oliver was in the Old Town filming an ad for Sainsbury’s, the supermarket company, which recently won an award from Compassion In World Farming for its policy in support of higher welfare systems for broiler (meat) chickens. I believe in acknowledging people like Jamie and company’s like Sainsbury’s when they take steps away from animal cruelty. Sure, I wish Jamie and Sainsbury’s would go vegan; however, they are no indications that this is going to happen in the foreseeable future. So, I believe, we thank them for the steps they’ve taken and encourage them to do more.
Anyway, Jamie and what seemed like a crew and extras (local residents) combined of more than one hundred plus loads of equipment packed into the small garden outside my home to film some of the ad. While trying to work from my home office I periodically went to the front of the house to take photos. My interest in such things is not necessarily the “glamour of show business” which, frankly, leaves me cold, but more to do with observing the organisation and effort that goes into producing a film albeit an ad for the telly. It was equally astonishing and frightening. All that expense for a telly ad?! There’s no telly in our house. They’re evil machines that keep people stupid. I doubt whether I will ever see the ad, which is fine by me. Nonetheless, the experience was interesting if for no other reason than seeing a film production company behave like a monolith invading and then disappearing as quickly.
A telly series based in Hastings and filmed quite a bit here is Foyle’s War. (Carnival Week includes Foyle’s War Walks.) This is one of those British costume dramas which marry nostalgia and a not-too-challenging plot line. It is based around the character of Christopher Foyle, a Detective Chief Superintendent, and set during and after World War Two. It’s in stark contrast to where I used to live and the detective series filmed there! I’m speaking of Baltimore and Homicide: Life on the Streets. As interesting as it was to watch Jamie et al filming, it was nice to see them leave so that the Old Town and its residents, including the gulls, can have the place back to ourselves.