Change for the worse

Do you remember ZCars?

It was my favourite television programme when I was a child. In my (faulty) memory, there were Constables Roach and Bannerman in the main car and Quilley in the panda car. Back at the station, Sergeant Bert Lynch was at the front desk and Inspectors Watt and Barlow were behind a door marked C.I.D. Even now the opening bars of the theme music have a power to evoke the mood of those childhood days.

One thing about the programme grated with a pedantic primary school boy, the place names. They weren’t so much place names as place descriptions, Newtown and Seaport. The writers would never have got a job on Midsomer Murders.

The only mitigating factor in my mind was that there were real place names that did not seem any more imaginative, among them a place we often visited, West Bay. Surely, on such a dramatic coast as that of Dorset with its Jurassic cliffs and its great Chesil Beach, there might have been someone who could have found an ancient name with a more poetic quality than West Bay. Dorset has a plentiful supply of colourful place names, could the supply have not extended to the coast?

It is forty-one years since I was last in West Bay. Were I to resort to Google, I might find the exact date, the cricket World Cup was taking place at the time and it was the day that India won their semi-final, in the warmth of a June day, I listened to commentary on the radio.

West Bay was a familiar place because of my father’s love of sea fishing. He was never more content than when standing on a shingle shore casting a line far out into the sea. That day forty-one years ago was probably the very last time that I accompanied him on a fishing trip. I was married in September that year and moved to the bleakness that was the Northern Ireland of the time. Opportunities to visit England became infrequent and visits to my family were resented.

Tomorrow, with an uncle and a cousin, I am going to West Bay to eat fish and chips on the harbour wall. I am told that the place is much changed for the worse, that apartments now mar the landscape. Even if there had been no development, the change would have been for the worse because there will be no chance to walk along the shoreline and talk to a man with a fishing rod who loved the tranquility of those moments.

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3 Responses to Change for the worse

  1. james higham says:

    “I am told that the place is much changed for the worse, that apartments now mar the landscape. ”

    And druggies?

  2. Discovered Joys says:

    It seems to be a natural progression that awful places gradually improve (if only by ‘gentrification’) and nice places are gradually reduced (if only by commercialisation). West Bay is in the later category I’d say.

    I’ve enjoyed visiting there in the past but the fishing ‘industry’ is no longer thriving and people turn to serving tourists for a living. And so it goes.

  3. Ian says:

    I think some places can reach the ‘nice’ places can sometimes hold on, but the developers and planners are hard to thwart. Although it was a summer Saturday evening, it was not overly busy and at 5.30 parking was easy to find.

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