Once a fairly standard seaside town, populated by fishermen and laid back surfers, with a busy summer period when families came to the area to hit the beach, Newquay has now been turned into a southern Blackpool or a British Ibiza.
During the winter, the weather coming in off the Atlantic turns the town grey and the lack of tourists causes half the shops shut down. The jobs available, tedious at the best of times, disappear until the summer.
And when the summer arrives, it gets worse. On hot days hung-over meatheads walk around topless in a competition to decide who uses the best steroids and the worst tattooist, hooting like apes at the occasional passing blonde. If it rains, the beaches evacuate and the tiny high street fills to bursting point.
Parents try to keep their children entertained but as every other shop only sells ‘Newquay Lifeguard’ hoodies, they are fighting a losing battle. The odd couple of pensioners dodge fearfully through herds of school leavers who think the Inbetweeners movie is a documentary… But the worst is yet to come.
Like a back-to-front vampire movie, it’s wise for anyone over twenty-five to get off the streets before night falls. Every beer garden fills with stag parties in matching polo shirts or more imaginative fancy dress that every local has still seen fifty times before: at least one stag will be resplendent in a Borat style ‘Mankini’. Groups of cackling hens, always dressed as cowgirls, outnumbered at least five to one, attract men like the proverbial flies on shit. Despite the number of bars and clubs the groups funnel through town and end up packed to the rafters in Sailors night club until it’s time for a kebab and a fight.
Newquay in these post-kebab small hours recalls the fall of Rome. Couples make the most of the time they have left, before they sober up and the beer-goggles come off. In the street. In the bushes. On one notable occasion, in a skip. Less fortunate lads walk girls back to the Travelodge and are left at the door, clawing at the windows, like extras from the Day of the Dead.
They say tourism is our major industry but this is something different, it is hedonism as imagined by Henry Ford – a conveyor belt filled with Britain’s youngsters, force fed organised fun and ironically named shots and dropping off at the other end with the thousand yard stare of a Vietnam veteran.