Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Great Yarmouth. "Great" Yarmouth. Great!...Yarmouth.

So we went to Great Yarmouth. I have nothing more eloquent to say than...hmm. What a weird town.

This is the first thing we saw as we walked to the center from the train station:

Operation Claw: Knives Destroy Lives

Operation Claw: Knives Destroy Lives. I suppose the idea behind this is to get people to throw their unused knives and shanks into the bin, but there's some faulty logic at work here. First of all: what if the knife has already stabbed somebody, and this is where the perpetrator throws the evidence? Also: what's the impetus for someone to throw their knife in the bin? If you're the type of person who carries a knife as a weapon, what wave of good will and pacifistic emotion is likely to spring up when passing the weapons bin? I wonder how many knives they get every week. My guess is not many.

Moving on, though, Yarmouth turned out to be, well, very weird. A little history: it used to be a lively little fishing town, and then when they overfished the waters and could no longer sustain a whole town on the fishing industry, they put some energy-generating windmills in the sea, erected some oil platforms, and the "casinos," previously booming, started to decline. Now they're just shells of good times past, though they still give it the old college try.

Caeser's PalaceThe Flamingo

That's Caesar's Palace and The Flamingo. You could get it mixed up with Las Vegas, huh? So lush. Hilariously, all the machines take either 2 or 5 pence pieces, usually no more. They're generally filled with these penny-pusher machines that keep you hooked by spitting out pennies every now and again, just enough so that you don't walk away, because you're sure that even with slow progress, you might get that tin of mints or fishy keychain that teeters precariously near the edge! It's really very manipulative. There is also, however, ski ball, video games, air hockey, and this bizarre type of bowling, in which the pins hang on strings, and it's a recipe for disaster. Someone has even made a short video to really illustrate how strange this is.

The bowling is not the only thing for kids to do though - there are all kinds of fun things for little ones. For instance, Joyland:


Yes, that's all it is. And yes, it looks a little deserted in the picture; that's only because it's pretty much totally deserted. Brad claims that the first time he went to Yarmouth, Joyland was roped off because there was a dead body parked outside. I've opted not to share the picture. But really, for a town that sells itself as a shiny, family-fun destination, there were surprisingly few people about, and more often than not they had no children. There were a few children riding some sad-looking burros around the beach, and that's about it. Other than them, the "children" were mostly teenagers who roamed around as if, shockingly, they had nothing else to do.

Oh, kids could also do this:


Mini-golf! This course wasn't too bad, though just down the street was a course called The Arnold Palmer, which was basically a cement plot about the size of my living room, a few strips of astroturf with 2x4s between them, and a foam rock here and there. It was, in a word, depressing.

There were also fun rides for the kids!

"Fun" "Rides"

See, look at all those kids! The ride with the tipi in the foreground of that picture was a very dreary log-ride that went in one very short zig-zag; I don't know how many times around a kid would get to go for one token, because there wasn't a kid within a hundred feet of this thing.

A coworker of Brad's who actually hails from Yarmouth describes it as "dying", which seems about right. Come 6 p.m., almost every business closed its shutters, and the streets might as well have been overtaken by tumbleweeds. On our walk back to the train station, I imagined that the seagulls were probably killer birds who fed at dusk, and that's why everyone retreated into their homes. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

All in all, though, it was fun, and a sliver of England that not many people see. There was a beach, I had some chips and ice cream, and I got to put my head into those weird wooden cutouts, and that's a good day in my book. Until next time.

britannia pier


sq meals said...

I love the last photo most of two made the perfect matching facial expressions to your framing! what terrific fun!

silvergirl said...

oh jesus, why did you have to end with that photo?! my stomach hurts from all the laughter... that tops all the cut-out photos i have ever been in, no question ;) And the bowling video was indeed strange.. can you believe people design and build these things? What a world, what a world. Next post: i expect a long interview with the maker of the Funk 10 pin string pinsetter.

bird feet said...

Ah, the bowling video was the thing that made MY stomach hurt from laughter. When they bounce up and down like that?!...hilarious. It happened to us a few times while we were playing, too. It did, however, make me think of how brilliant real bowling machines are. How do they pick up all the pins and put them back again? It's like magic!