Monday, 13 September 2010

On Leigh-on-Sea

My favourite Beatles song is probably In My Life. I think it perfectly captures the way it feels to look back and realise that the things around you have changed [forever, not for better], without you even realising it. And yet, at the same time, it reminds you of the importance of the things that have remained, and the things that are important now. It's a song that has struck a chord with me on numerous occasions, not least on Saturday afternoon.

This weekend I went to a town called Leigh-on-Sea for the annual Regatta. Actually, when I say I went to Leigh for the Regatta, what I mean is that I went to Leigh to soak up the atmosphere of the Regatta while soaking up more than my fair share of alcohol. I used to go out in Leigh a lot more often than I do now. When I worked in Southend I'd go at least once a week, always to the same pub. It's a place with character, with a stone floor, nautical decor and a balcony that looks out over the Thames Estuary. Should you ever find youself in the area, you'll find it at the end of the cobbled street of cottages, fish n' chip shops and boozers that make up Old Leigh's high street, just before you get to the beach. Although the frequency of my visits has decreased, I still go there a for a few pints every now then, and usually spend at least part of the night wallowing in nostalgia.

Saturday was no different, only this time the nostalgia hit while I was having a wee, which it hasn't done before [please forgive my crassness]. In brief, for I wouldn't want to go into too much detail here, I used to have a favourite urinal in this pub. It was at the end of the row, in front of a broken window at head height that was most effective at clearing alcohol-fuelled fogginess. On the wooden window-frame, someone had scrawled "TOMMY P IS A SLAG" - there is nothing like an inspirational quote to ponder while...erm...otherwise engaged. The toilets have since been redecorated and, while the glass has been replaced and the woodwork given a new coat of paint, the memory doesn't fade. Tommy P's apparently promiscuous antics are yesterday's news, replaced with new graffitti for a new age [nowadays all the cool kids are writing about how Domenico and Miguel are wankers. Again, an inspiration]. The pub has changed, small changes over time that have slowly transformed the place so that it's no longer quite the same as it was.

I headed back to my table and looked at the people I was sitting with. Familiar faces; some of whom were there the first time I ever came to this pub. There were others who I've only recently met and am yet to get to know properly. And then I thought of the people who used to be there, and have since gone their separate ways. Like the pub, the group has gained, lost and retained. Things have changed, yet remained the same.

At that moment, just as I was ready to succumb to a wave of nostalgia, reach for my iPod and listen to the Beatles, N came back with a Jagerbomb and business returned to normal. It was only when I found a photo on my phone of the abuse directed at poor Domenico that I remembered that this chain of thought had even occurred. But the nostalgia isn't something I should be depressed by. I have had some amazing times with some amazing people in that pub, I had a fantastic time there on Saturday and I hereby swear to carry on doing so in future.

So despite everything that's changed, and as the Beatles say, I know I'll never lose affection for the people and things that went before. And for the people and things that are still around; in my life, I love you all.


  1. Oh my heart! I almost included "In My Life" in my list of Beatles songs last week, but didn't for whatever reason (I was choosing my songs rather hastily - hastily doesn't sound like a real word, but I think it is).

  2. Hmmm, okay i love "In My Life" second to "Michelle" hahaha! No, really it's a great song which actually is personally memorable to me because it's the song my classmates and i used to sing during the last month of our high school days. We love you too Tom! That's for sure. ;D

  3. Aww I love that song.
    And it's impressive that nostalgia can find you in a public bathroom. Nostalgia finds me at lots of places but is yet to attack me while I'm urinating.

  4. Odd.I have been listening to this song on repeat for the past hour while going through my yearbook :)

  5. I didn't see the crassness at all! And nostalgia happens in the weirdest moments, don't you think? And I second Lauren's comment.

    I also like that song. My mom always chooses that song when we karaoke.

  6. The things I remember while taking a piss...ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmemories

  7. "just as I was ready to succumb to a wave of nostalgia, reach for my iPod and listen to the Beatles"

    Hahaha, I love this. :)

  8. That is an incredible song; perfect for when that Nostalgia hits.

    I experienced something similar the other day when I took my sister to her college's home campus to pick up her textbooks. It was the college I attended; the campus I went to.

    Walking through the halls, I was overcome with emotion. It was strange really. So much has changed in the school in the three years since I left, but the halls echo still with the memories of what went on there.

    Especially the pub; though the pub that was there when I was no longer exists.

  9. Not crass at all.

    It's funny, but I was at the pub the other day and the toilet made me miss school with an ache I haven't felt in a really long time. The door had an entire conversation in black marker going.
    "Someday, this will be a window"
    "I give it five months"
    "Fuck you, whore"
    "Maria <3 Anders"

    Or whatever.

    I stepped out to a friend who's nowhere near those giggy teenage years of reading out toilet stall graffiti, but it was gratifying (and terrifying) to see how far i've come.

  10. @ Allison - it's ok, there are too many to choose from. I think I picked While My Guitar Gently Weeps instead. Which is also sometimes my favourite.

    @ Mish - Aw thanks Mish. It's a nice idea to sing that at the end of a school year. It works in so many situations.

    @ Lauren - I know right. It was a big moment for me too. Caame from nowhere, I tell you.

    @ Sweta - great minds...listen to the same Beatles song at the same time. I must have listened to it ten times while writing that post.

    @ Gnetch - I've never even thought of doing this at karaoke. I always choose Elton John - Your Song, although I've been known to ruin Yellow Submarine on occasion too.

    @ Traveler@Large - spot on. That's almost exactly how it happened. Except not quite. A few less H's maybe, because I'd only had a pint or two at that point.

    @ Jennifer Louise - thank you :) In hindsight that drink arrived just on time, I would have looked a bit strange weeping in the corner will my friends were boozing it up.

    @ Tabs - This is it, exactly. The place is still there, but it has changed. It's a really weird feeling.

    @ Risha - haha, toilet graffiti still amuses me, though I'm quite sure I should have grown out of it by now. It's a shame that the people who write all the abuse will never know how much they make us think. Maybe we should write to them.