Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Seaside Sounds

A sunny day and a fine one for the North Norfolk coast. I dropped my partner and the kids near the front and went looking for a parking place. When I reached the cliff top a few minutes later there was no sign of the rest of the family but I did find, between the ice cream van and the lobster traps, a gathering of some thirty souls on a triangle of grass. 'Scripture Union' read the banner but I'd already heard them and their little P.A. system from around the corner.

The Billy Graham figure (vicar?) was a mild mannered chap in his 30s with all the iconoclastic zeal of a children's TV presenter from the 1970s. All very English and understated. "So God spoke to you in London," he was saying into a megaphone to a member of the congregation who gave confirmation. "And [to another] God spoke to you at work? What work do you do? A librarian. In which county? Sussex. So God has spoken to us in London and in America and in Sussex. And this is evidence that God..."

Hang on a minute, I think, my heckles rising. Evidence? God forbid you're ever called for jury service. And I find I'm resenting the din of the megaphone as much as the smug self-certainty of the man of faith behind it. But as I wander down the cliff path the tinny music that follows the sermon merges with the sounds of laughing children, gulls and the breeze and I realise this is what the seaside is all about. The world on holiday and all the hullabaloo that goes with it. To me this born-again evangelist is an echo of the showmen and callers of yesteryear. All his flock need to do now is ditch the canned music and form a brass band. That's the kind of revival I'd be game for on a sunny day at the beach. A little tiddly-om-pom-pom along the prom to wake up a sleepy little seaside town and breathe life into what's known here in Norfolk as God's waiting room.


  1. Enjoying the sunshine reading it (even though its now very dark outside!)

  2. God's waiting room? How evocative :) Personally, I can do withough loud hailers and ghetto blasters at the seaside.