One of the tragedies of our Age of Pap is that some of the greatest entertainers of the past have been largely forgotten and consigned to oblivion. And none more so than the titans of our seaside past, those who used to dazzle and delight teeming thousands of holidaymakers. The piers where once they trod the boards are themselves now mostly in ruins, if not vanished utterly. Yet once the roaring of the sea was drowned out by the roaring and cheering and laughter of the crowds gathered to see entertainments the like of which we shall surely never witness again. Now, all we have left are brittle, yellowing newspaper cuttings, such as this one, clipped from The Pointy Town Bucket & Spade, dated 18 November 1913.
Your correspondent trudged to the end of the Pointy Pier in Pointy Town for an out of season variety show. In spite of the torrential rain and bitter winds and the pervading stench of bilgewater and rotting fish, dozens of doughty holidaymakers packed out the Miss Blossom Partridge Memorial Variety Theatre for an afternoon of tiptop entertainment.
Top of the bill were those stars of the Pointy Pier, Mr Peevish And His Lovely Wife Gwendolyn. They did not disappoint. Mr Peevish was peevish and his lovely wife Gwendolyn was lovely. The “business” with the darned sock, the table-napkin, the funnel, and the screeching pipistrelle bat brought the house down. I myself was in floods of tears when lovely Gwendolyn sang the sentimental ballad “Oh bring me your winding-sheet, mother of mine”, for the performance of which she was wrapped in her mother’s actual winding-sheet, still bearing the bloodstains coughed up by that good woman in her extremity. That Mr Peevish remained thoroughly peevish during his lovely wife’s rendition is proof indeed of his consummate peevishness.
The evening ended with a magic trick, or at least what I took to be a magic trick. Several members of the audience were of a differing view, and believed that Mr Peevish And His Lovely Wife Gwendolyn had indeed produced, in material form, emerging from a puff of smoke, the Great Beast itself, as described in the Book of Revelation. The police constable on duty was trampled underfoot as the audience fled in fear for their lives.
Later that evening I noticed that the streets in the immediate vicinity of Pointy Pier were covered in some kind of vile noisome sludge. Small fires were burning, and every sprig of vegetation was blackened and charred and dead, along with a goodly number of puppies and kittens which had unwisely strayed from the comforts of hearth and home.