Andrew Kay dines out

Oh I do Like to Be beside the seaside…!

For every oyster I swallow, for every lobster or crab or truffle I can be equally delighted by the simpler things in life and I mean really simple!

My friends are all aware that I have a passion for salad cream, I love corned beef and above all I still crave the delights of fish and chips. Yes I am a simple man at heart! And don’t get me on sweets, Caramac, Sherbet Fountains, Black Jacks, Flying Saucers… stop me now!

I grew up eating fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, not every day as that was beyond the family’s budget, but as a treat, usually Fridays in school holidays, we would have fish and chips. Back then the chippy served just a few things so the choices were simple, and when things were tight it was a fishcake and not a fish that we were allowed.

I would be dispatched to the chip shop with warm plates wrapped in tea towels. These would be handed over on arrival at the chippy and placed in the warming cabinet. At the same time your order was taken and then you sat on the wooden bench and queued. It was all cooked to order, nothing was sitting waiting.

I loved being there, watching the owners chipping potatoes in a strange and scary jaw like device and then the delicate dip and scrape of the skinless cod fillets into batter followed by gently laying them into the hot fat, yes beef dripping!

So where do I go now? Well given that the office is so close to the pier I go to The Palm Court on Brighton Palace Pier. In this 120th anniversary of our historic pier I can think of no better way of celebrating this iconic structure than breezing down its boarded walks for a sizzling plate of cod, chips and mushy peas, the real deal too, not your silly southern squashed garden pea fakery.

Of course fish and chips are not the only seaside delights that I care to indulge in. The very smell of hot sugar wafting from a candyfloss vendor is enough to reduce me to five years old in spirit. Yes, yes I know it’s terrible and I promise you that with this silly moustache it holds many unforseen dangers – but I simply cannot resist.

And having done that I can easily be led astray by a pot of cockles, sprinkled in malt vinegar and dusted with loads of white pepper, they take me right back to days at the seaside in Southport, the rather more elegant resort of my childhood. By which I mean in comparison to the tawdry joys of Blackpool which my grandparents rather frowned upon, feeling that nearby Morecombe was the more elegant option and Southport a step up from that. Back then my eyes would fall hungrily on the rock shops, I wanted a paper plate with a sugar fried breakfast, or a giant baby’s dummy – but it was not to be. The purse usually ran to a stick of rock with the name of the resort clumsily but fascinatingly written through its tooth rotting core. Simple pleasures.

So now I remind myself of those with a stroll down the pier to the deafening sounds of the arcades and preditory seagulls, the shreiks of joy on the fairground rides, added to by my own as once again I give in to my love of bumper cars.

Brighon Palace Pier, congratulations on reaching 120, here’s to 120 more!

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