Boisterous Bournemouth

14 January 2011

Bournemouth used to be a really big tourist place (according to my Dad). I say “used to” because nowadays I think people are instead flying over to other parts in Europe, like Spain, with the advent of really cheap airfares e.g. Easyjet.

One other, somewhat less influential event leading to the drop of tourism in the area is from the change of my grandparents’ hotel to a residential place. Still exactly the same building, but people live in hotel rooms now. Standing outside the ex-hotel taking photos of the place, my Dad was telling me about all of this. Suddenly,

Hey there! What you doing?

A rough looking over 50-year-old, wearing a black Indiana Jones hat, started walking towards us, with an extremely deep voice.

“Hey mate. We’re just taking photos.” “Oh. So… why you doing that?”

He had a bitter, interrogative voice to him, too.

“Oh sorry. We used to own this place back in the 70’s. Just having a bit of a nostalgia here.” “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. No problem mate. See, I live here now, right in the top there. See that little tower room there? That’s my kitchen!”

Conversation continued naturally, going from England’s weather vs. Australia’s, his career (musician) and how the building was going. Eventually, he told my Dad & I that we should come in to have a look around. It was a weird offer but we both looked at each other and thought “why not?”. The bitter, interrogative voice left.

While walking up the stairs, the old man rocker offered an excuse.

Sorry for the mess up here. Had a party last week, you see.

That explained the smell of beer & smoke in the carpet of the stairs up to his room. Walking into his room, a huge waft of cheap smoke, mould, dampness, old and general shite hit my nose. Tip-toeing around the vacuum cleaner tube (what?) and unpaired shoes, he showed us his mould-stained kitchen with general kitchen stuff scattered through a 2m by 2m room.

Pretty small innit?

He showed us out and walked us through a 3 metre long and what felt like 30cm wide corridor to his lounge room. Between greasy windows and random, suspiciously empty nothing in them were walls covered in black mould. There was a door with Marilyn Munroe pictures pasted all over the door. I’ve got to be honest by this point I really felt this guy was going to do some seriously freaky shit to us. What if he forced us to sit down and have a secretly mushroom-infested cup of tea? We were in England, so it’s the most usual thing to ask ever. Anxiously walking through the door he said (with his voice more like shouted)

Careful of the little ankle biter in there!

No, it wasn’t cough Maddy Goldrick cough cough in there.

There was a tiny little puppy. Hm. There were upturned beer cans. There were pills on the coffee table. Hm. The air was less clear than Beijing’s. There was dirty laundry over discoloured couches. Hmmmmm. I didn’t see anything to do with music anywhere. Was this guy a musician or some kind of deviant? Hmm!!

He showed us out, thankfully. However, he then led us to his bedroom, right next to the equally well-kept kitchen. We didn’t walk in there, nor did he. I suppose he was embarrassed about the fact that he hadn’t made his bed… Or… perhaps … the 48290 random bits of shit scattering the floor and ceiling. By this point it was difficult, if not impossible, to differentiate between what was grime & garbage and his possessions. I remember that there was just stuff everywhere. Lot of cases of beer, actually, and a few books/sheets of paper on the floor. Anything else just blurred with garbage. Furthermore, this rocker guy was well over 6’, so I don’t know how he would walk into his bedroom as the ceiling was at its highest point 5.5’ high. Of course, the mould had not politely skipped the bedroom as he might have hoped (on 2nd thoughts he probably didn’t care), and this time some sections of the ceiling were seemingly painted black with mould and brown with dirt.

It was pretty incredible but also eye-opening to the crap that people voluntarily live in, especially in a developed country such as the UK. I emphasise voluntarily because the place was made very nice by my grandparents some 30 years ago.

We said our goodbyes and headed down the stairs to the lovely warm and comforting outside environment with all due credit to the English winter.

I looked up back at the tower room to make sure he wasn’t staring back, and he wasn’t. I feel bad for being so cynical and presumptious but you can’t really ignore your instincts with such a place like that. Turns out he was a really nice, welcoming guy, but if you were to take a look at him then at his place, you couldn’t help but assume anything but.

Very interesting indeed. Haven’t even explored the stranger parts of England… Yet?

January 14th, 2011 7:00am