Sunday, April 19, 2009


You bet!

Just before I left the metrolops by train to Cornwall, I watched Michelle Mone - the blonde bombshell bra magnate from Apprentice fame - explaining to ITVNews that she was fed up listening to the media drone on and on about how we're all going to hell, with or without a handcart, and how this very explanation of how terrible everything is partly explains how, well, terrible everything is.

So if you don't mind this will be an unrelentingly happy column today.

St Ives is a place to love. A bejewelled and sparkling sea. Dinky fishermen's cottages. A haven from the drudge. Cornish friends and family may disagree but what do they know, they only live here. I've been coming here for donkeys, and it's as refreshing a place today as it was when I first brought a girlfriend here for, er, a cultural weekend many years ago. A walk round Down-A-Long, the old fishing bit which once smelt of pilchards but now has a 'Chocolat!' shop, is as time-eroding as anything you'll find in Venice or Stonetown, Zanzibar. There may be big green council bins outside every door but the architecture is of another time; there may be more holiday homes than residences but you'd barely know as a visitor; and while the credit crunch means that more people are snacking than dining, here they're scarfing Cornish pasties, proper ones. There are no McDonalds or KFC. Hurrah!

There are no double red lines either, just a few yellow ones, no troublesome law enforcers beating your legs or Sky Helicopters hovering over funerals, few nutters (apart from retired Cornwallians studying the effects of Scrumpy on the mind), limited pub opportunities and, as far as I can see, no more than one Pound Shop. The only supermarket is a Co-op where the 'till-bunnies' (as they call themselves) do a neat line in witty repartee.

I'd say this + a beach or two + a Cornish pasty for lunch = a lot of people enjoying themselves. From surfer dudes to families to preening teens studying their oppos. (I'm a visitor, right? So don't email me about the credit crunch in Cornwall, I'm being Mr Happy today. I saw those teeshirts - "It's tourist season so why can't we shoot them?")

Porthmeor Beach is where you want to be - sunning yourself or scoffing fresh fish and chips (with a cup of tea and two slices please) in the beachfront cafe. It's here that I learned to surf and it's here that I intend to take it up again. Soon. In the meantime, I'm over the road in the Tate Gallery - the smallest of the Tate Empire and possibly my favourite - which at the moment has a retrospective of Ben Nicholson, the early modernist who came to live in St Ives, and an explosion of colour by Luke Frost. A brilliant coupling of St Ives 'old' modernist school and the very latest from what has become a local dynasty. Joy. No crowds, a beautiful building with the best rooftop caff in Britain, and sand underfoot, which is not something you get in Pimlico.

Lunch at the Mermaid, one of the oldest in the hood where the happy waiter who's been there for years tells me the special is a whole local lemon sole with chips for a tenner. He points surreptitiously at the next table and eyeballs the message "that's what they've got". So I get it. While trying to decide on a glass (how much?) or a bottle of Provence Rose he offers to do me a small carafe 'for six quid'. Done deal mate. They do a five pound lunch. They do lobster and chips. Oooooooh can I live here now please? (a moment recorded on every visit)

Because I'm working I'm in the apartment from heaven, the Sail Lofts, which have recently been reconverted from artists studios (of which several remain downstairs) because long before that this was a pilchard processing factory, and along with every mod con that my own home aspires to this spacious white loft has a flat screen TV which is this weekend dedicated to BBC 3 because they're showing 'Family Guy' the funniest thing now on TV. I'm jaded, a Simpsons fan who's turned in his Homer tee a long time ago, the consequence being that I find it very hard to find anything remotely amusing on TV at all. Family Guy is it.

It's the new series so the BBC have splashed out £2.74p on a behind-the-scenes effort. What would once have been a documentary is now a local crew fishing around the Family Guy production office for shots. Piece of crap really but it allowed me to see Seth McFarlane - the creator, writer, performer and drawer - say the words "as long as we don't do anything the Simpsons did" which sums it up. The baton has now been officially passed. Laugh your bloody socks off people. Or Brian gets it.

Which reminds me, down at the harbour I buy a huge spider crab straight off the boat for two quid. It's live (look away now if you're squeamish) and despite having a pot which is just a little too small it is cooked, prepped and served with potato salad and a crisp white wine. It is delicious. But is also tiny. I have discovered the difference between cock and hen spider crabs. One has loads of meat. The other doesn't.

Can't all be good news. Sorry.



Anonymous said...

Are you coming back to OG blog
we needs to know

Nationwide said...

I never really left, but I don't really watch any of the popular programmes there (Apprentice, Wire, etc) so have been directing my valuable thoughts towards Word of Mouth where I get to talk about cream cakes, tofu and Tunnocks Caramel Wafers.
Which reminds me, I'm in Glasgow this weekend, and the recession restaurant of the moment is the "China Buffet King" (4 branches including Sausageroll Street) where you're charged by time. 4.30-6.30 £7.99,6.30-11, £9.99. Eat as much as you want from about 50 dishes. It's packed!!

anita nobasis said...

I like toffees !

Anonymous said...

Me too.