Yesterday evening I read at Short Fuse Hastings. I figured reading in Hastings would give me a chance to explore the town a little, something I never did when living there in the late 90's. I had a great afternoon exploring, aided by some suggestions from AK Benedict.
My favourite place was Robert's Rummage. Hastings has the sort of proper junk shops that were long since priced out of Brighton. Yes, we have some fun shops, but how many have a drawer labeled 'Locks and keys' containing a miscellaneous collection of both?
I also loved the bookshop that turned into a Thai restaurant during the evening. It was like some long forgotten Transformer toy. During the day it looked like a bookshop, with subtle clues to its other purpose, like a fridge of cakes at the counter, or tables and chairs hidden among the shelves. Far better than a robot that transforms into a VW Beetle, or a walkman.
Hastings does seem a little battered. The pier is closed, and passing through St. Leonard's at 3pm it was a ghost town. You could walk past a dozen ghosts in Hastings without realising – the town feels haunted.
The reading went well. I'd spent a lot of time revising my horror story, The Other Child, and it had stopped seeming weird to me. Standing in front of an audience, I was suddenly aware of how strange and dark it actually was. The main character is grimly unpleasant too, in a manner I definitely am not. At points I found myself being surprised by what was about to read.
I read first, which meant I could relax and enjoy the other stories. I particularly liked VG Lee's story, which had a gleeful malevolence, and Michael Gould's tale about a ploughman, which felt like a traditional story. Hastings Short Fuse is a lovely friendly audience and I hope to read there again soon.
The night ended perfectly. I left the train at Brighton to find the number 7 bus waiting at the stop to take me home.
Below are the gates to Hastings pier. Anyone know what the yellow ribbons are for?
Below is the Admiral Benbow pub. I had some good nights in there, including watching the 1998 world cup.