Stroll along the prom, prom, prom

4th August 2006 at 01:00
Ice-cream cornets, donkey rides and Jimmy Savile. Whoever said Scarborough was tacky? Steven Hastings finds out what it's like to work there

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside!

Me too! Fish, chips and mushy peas. Fluffy candyfloss, and sticks of hard pink rock. Melted ice cream running down your arm. Polystyrene pots of peeled prawns, with just a dash of malt vinegar. And crabsticks, wonderful crabsticks!

Stop, you're making me queasy.

Buckets and spades! Donkey rides and deck chairs! Amusement arcades with that one where you drop pennies in and they push up against a whole pile of other pennies all teetering on the brink of the precipice, defying gravity, just waiting to clatter down and make you rich, well maybe not that rich, and if you just give the thing a nudge, and oh dear, there's an alarm ringing, and a man in uniform... Shut up!

Sorry, lost it for a moment. Where were we?

I don't know about you, I was off to the South of France.

Shame on you! No one does seaside like the British. And Scarborough's where it all began. The town is the UK's oldest resort and has been welcoming visitors since the 1600s.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

No. It doesn't exist any more. The 45-day trade fair may have been one of the great commercial events of the Middle Ages, but it fizzled out several centuries ago.


Never mind. There's still a costumed parade to mark the day when the fair would have opened. And in its place are other exciting events, including a jazz festival, a student drama festival and a cricket festival.

But isn't Scarborough a tad tacky?

Not all of it, no. In fact, away from the tourist front, the town is surprisingly upmarket. There's the Esplanade, with its beautiful gardens.

And the old town, packed with fine Georgian and Victorian buildings.

Scarborough Castle is perfect for school trips. And English teachers just love the Stephen Joseph Theatre. The artistic director there is playwright Alan Ayckbourn, Scarborough's second most famous resident, after Sir Jimmy Savile.

Hmmm. Quite classy. But it's still not Southwold is it?

No, it's not chuffing Southwold.

Chuffing? Is that a bit of Yorkshire dialect?

Yes, that's right, wazzock, it is.

What proud folk you Yorkshiremen are!

God's Own Country, this, you know. Yorkshire pudding, Wensleydale cheese, Theakston's Old Peculiar, fish, chips and mushy peas... Please! Don't start all that again.

Fair enough. But it really is a fine county. From Scarborough you can head up the coast to Whitby and on to the idyllic fishing village of Staithes.

Or zip along the A64 to York and its magnificent Minster. And you're right on the doorstep of the North York Moors national park, whose attractions include Rievaulx Abbey, a steam railway and the village of Goathland, home to some tedious TV series or other.

Heartbeat! Why do you miss when my baby kisses me?

Sounds like cardiac arrhythmia. I should get it checked out.

Seriously, I'm tempted. Where could I work?

With a population of over 100,000 Scarborough's a pretty big place. There are plenty of primary schools and a clutch of good secondaries. But you seem a bit of a snob, so perhaps you might want to consider Scarborough College, a grand old independent school, overlooking the sea.

Perfect! Tell me more.

I'd love to. But when I rang they were "too busy" to talk to me. So you'd better be ready to work hard! Or you could try Scarborough's other college, the sixth form one. They're very friendly there. "Scarborough is such a fantastic location," says head of maths, Dave Robinson. "And you soon learn which bits to avoid during the holiday season."

Great. How do I get a job there?

Maybe Jim'll fix it for you.

Next week: wish you were in Portrush, County Antrim?

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