Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Talking Torquay

With this weekend's 'supermoon' expected to bring higher than normal spring tides, we will doubtless be spoilt for choice by next week's haul of rescue-related news stories.

In Devon, however, they are planning to put the rising waters to excellent use. According to the grandly-named Torquay Herald Express (which is clearly no stranger to the obligatory headline pun),
Entries are flooding in for a new competition to Beat the Tide in Paignton.
Today's contest, in aid of muscular dystrophy charity Action Duchenne, is the first of what organisers hope will become an annual event in which teams of six to eight people are given an hour to build a mound of sand on the beach.

When the tide comes in, all the team members must climb onto their giant sandcastle and stay there as the water rises around them.

The winners will be the last team left standing; all the fun of being cut off by the tide without having to bother the emergency services and a valuable lesson on fluid dynamics into the bargain, all while helping a worthwhile cause.

Forget 'Strictly X-factor Find Me a Talented Nancy Boy on Ice'; this is the competition that should be broadcast to the nation tonight - and every subsequent year until the RNLI stop having to fish out would-be Cnuts at every spring tide.

As a bonus, the same edition of the local newspaper provides the delightfully paradoxical headline:
Is the 89p pound shop in Torquay the cheapest in the country?
It appears that two rival discount outlets have been systematically undercutting each other over the past few weeks in a sort of economic limbo dance of 'tactical marketing'. Last week, 'The 99p Store' in Torquay was selling everything for 92p, while 'Poundland' was pricing its merchandise at a mere 90p.

'The 99p Store' has now retaliated by dropping its prices to 89p. This price-cutting is, presumably, subsidised by some kind of central fighting fund designed to put rivals out of business. If it carries on until one of them blinks, it will become a test of which business can afford to sell below cost for longest.

The same thing has happened in other towns, albeit with less media attention - the Daily Mail picked this up while I had a post in draft (which is always annoying!) - but this seems to be the longest and toughest price battle so far and must be putting other retailers under strain.

If this is the future, we can surely look forward to high streets filled with the ubiquitous phone shops and nail bars and a multiplicity of discount outlets selling whatever they have managed to acquire on the grey market that week.

Oh brave new world, that has such retail in it!

(There is, of course, only one soundtrack for a story like the latter one; happy earworm, everybody!)


  1. Faith no More with Sparks is a good clip...

    Did the rough weather prompt The Tempest quote?

  2. And now we've got the tail end of Bertha to ass to people's watery woes...

  3. Rightwinggit, it is indeed, and it had completely passed me by; thank you!


    As for the quote, it wasn't intentional but you seem to be on better terms with my subconscious than I am; I have certainly been preoccupied with the storm as offspring + friends are camping until Sunday evening, when they will be turning up on our doorstep in search of hot showers and dry beds.

    Julia, remembering the geologist who told me that coastal Essex will, given the right tide and weather conditions, one day divide into a chain of islands, best of luck!