Skegness, Lincolnshire, UK Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Skegness, Lincolnshire, UK

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Described in The Meaning of Liff as 'nose excreta of a malleable consistency', Skegness has little to offer those who require more from their seaside visits than brown sea, dead seals and buildings that last saw a fresh tin of paint in 1952. On the few autumn days when the water is warm enough to stand in without shivering the beach is packed to the groynes with people from all over the eastern half of the country. Visitors from Nottingham will gleefully drive up, pull out the windbreak and hampers, unleash the dogs that have been dying for the toilet for the two hours of the journey and trot briskly to the beach. Once there, they will eat their food, read books, shout at their children and do anything but actually go in the sea or play in the sand. The sand is a funny greeny-brown colour, far from the standard yellow so many people who live inland expect. The sea contains much suspended sand and is therefore a similar shade. This is the east coast, so the air temperature leaves much to be desired, even in July. Finally, this is Lincolnshire and the locals are anything but scintillating.

During the 1940s and 1950s Skegness enjoyed some popularity as one of the three hearts of British seaside culture. The first ever Butlin's holiday camp was up the road in Mablethorpe. The beach huts were freshly painted, brightly coloured and gay; the sun shone brightly in the clear air away from the cities (albeit in black and white) and the people of the world were civil and friendly. Now it is almost the end of the nineties and the latter half of Skegness's life has seen little maintenance. A few additional places of entertainment have been built; the shrewd eye will notice that their popularity stems from the crucial fact that they are indoors. Adventurous youngsters from the county's villages and towns sometimes visit the cheesy nightclubs along Skegness's pathetic excuse for a 'strip'. Grim men from the water board and environmental health department prod at the sand with sticks. Pensioners who were first brought here as children creak off the bus, look round and wonder how on earth they can possibly remember the place as such a haven of gaiety and joy.

Skegness is technically the seaside and it is technically a resort, but then again soya protein is also technically food. The jolly fisherman is laughing no longer.

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