Just how do we solve Cromer’s Summertime Blues?
PUBLISHED: 21:01 11 August 2019 | UPDATED: 21:01 11 August 2019
Summer visitors are welcome in Cromer, but there’s a fine balance between encouraging and discouraging them, says Keith Skipper
Eddie Cochran wrapped it up neatly 60 or so Augusts ago when he first warbled so plaintively: "There ain't no cure for the Summertime Blues".
I may be a bit late in latching on to obvious trends but I'm beginning to appreciate just how he felt in highlighting frustrations of pleasure-seeking youngsters forced into long hours of demanding holiday work with very little pay.
He used popular music to get his message across and earn tragically brief fame and fortune before dying at 21 from injuries sustained in a road traffic crash on his 1960 UK tour. I paid regular tribute with soulful snatches from his songs throughout the rest of my fruit-picking career.
Of course, Eddie and everyone else itching for excitement had to accept summer toil, however tedious and poorly rewarded, could lead eventually to modest fleshpots of entertainment or, as in my case, a new blazer for a new school year.
Settling on priorities to point the way ahead for young hopefuls from Minnesota to Mid-Norfolk. For the record, I did sort of warm up for the Swinging Sixties with occasional Saturday night twirls at the old Sunshine Floor emporium of fun in East Dereham... after hanging up a new blazer in the family wardrobe.
While I polish the oldest halo in my meagre collection, I must confess to humming that Summertime Blues refrain with slightly more conviction than usual in recent weeks. Perhaps it's just part of my annual tuning-up process for siege survival.
By the look of Cromer and nearby seaside neighbours, tourism bosses must have been singing along with another Eddie Cochran hit. "C'mon Everybody!" appears to have worked a treat. If you like treats based on overwhelming traffic congestion and all hideous environmental perils attached.
Well-worn slogans like "Good for the local economy" and "That's what we're here for" can't drown out growing complaints about grim fights to find enough spaces for visitors and their vehicles without reducing "attractive destinations" to ugly and polluted parking lots.
Cromer's side streets get used to being clogged up most of the year - drivers working, shopping or just loitering in town conveniently forget where car parks await - but the holiday rush towards carnival capers pushes any lingering goodwill beyond breaking point.
A snap census the other day revealed a clear majority of vehicles parked without due care and attention on the "rat run" road outside our home. Several lurched on pavements, vans and lorries the worst offenders, while vital room was gobbled up by inconsiderate car owners who like to spread themselves across three resting spaces.
It's only a matter of time, surely, before local councillors and officers who claim to treat difficult questions about our environment in a serious and purposeful manner are invited to officially monitor potential effects of non-stop traffic choking through middle of town.
Such an emissions control exercise might well record disturbing results - not least for regular customers who sample refreshments on pavements either side of the main thoroughfare - but social and political climates are moving swiftly towards full-scale demands for remedial action.
Inevitably, there are high-profile characters refusing to acknowledge overwhelming evidence of a global catastrophe in the making simply because they can't see beyond trade deals and money markets. Some economy factors can be trumped by ecology fundamentals.
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Thankfully, there ought to be enough sensible folk at all levels to wage this most urgent of battles - even if certain attitudes clearly need to alter about extreme weather conditions.
Record temperature fever in this country recently sent too many sun-worshippers into raptures, treating a new mercury high like the fastest goal to be scored in Premier League history,, best century in an Ashes Test Match or longest queue ever seen searching for a parking spot in Wells.
Local initiatives must play a big part in a world-wide effort to meet challenges conjured up by climate change. Places plagued by too much traffic - we are spoilt for choice even in Norfolk -- need to stop believing this problem is simply insoluble or that building even more roads and bypasses will help.
Radically new attitudes towards cleaner energy, public transport, pedestrian areas, parking manners and holiday planning would do for starters. I would love to see Cromer set a coastal community example to offer real hope that imposed draconian measures really are a last resort.
Eventually, there'll be a cure for the Summertime Blues.
SKIP'S ASIDE: Our sons often ask what I got up to before they were born. I tell them it was easy to fill all that carefree and cash-laden spare time with jolly Norfolk adventures.
For example, I lapped up a splendid summer on the fete circuit in 1984 - and received an early reminder you're unlikely to get too big-headed on being elevated to the local "personality" peerage.
"We usually get someone famous to open our event, but we thought we'd have a change this year" they said with the sort of wink that made you wonder if the committee were doing it for a dare.
Popping out of the wireless set on to the village green could cause confusion as well. There was always the little old lady passing by. She stopped to tell you that you sounded much taller on Radio Norfolk. And her sister wanted a copy of that dumplings recipe that woman from Mulbarton sent in last year.
The weather provided even more obvious hazards 35 years back. I went to Thornham, near Hunstanton, with the aim of opening the village playing field before all the fun of the fete was unfurled. It didn't stop to rain and so stalls and sideshows were transferred to the local drill hall.
Even so, the true spirit of that eagerly-awaited day was not lost. A puckish committee member came up trumps with the ace of spades. He dug up a chunk of dripping turf to place with due solemnity on the hall stage.
A symbol of rural defiance as I urged them to make use of these splendid outside facilities when the elements allowed. An episode recounted every time our family wagon trundled towards Thornham with two inquisitive lads aboard.
In the tiny village of Ovington, near Watton, six Victorian pennies formed the most teasing test of that busy summer. They had come to light when volunteers were working in the village hall preparing the way for a new floor.
The coins were cleaned, mounted and framed. All you had to do was guess the date on each one to win a prize. Plenty of scope on the entry card … 1837 to 1901. That much information was free..
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