I have posted various things about piers recently and it got me thinking. To those of us that had childhoods around seaside towns they remain hugely symbolic. The memories that we have are more than images they are smells and emotions and the enchantment of childhood. But for some piers are not experienced in childhood and they are just decrepit structures.
Many years ago a project manager from Derby popped in to visit me. Derby is the middle of the country and as land locked as you can get on our little island. Having decided to walk along the pier we achieved the task with little drama. On surveying the sea and the coast from the end of the pier we turned to walk back. It was at this point that my friend realised that there were gaps between the boards. Wearing high heels she had negotiated the gaps without fear or failure on the outboard trip. The return was not so easy, faltering pigeon steps and shrieks about sums it up. And the loose planks were worth extra shrieks and clutching.
I realised that this is the same thing that enchants us as children. The broken gnarly pieces of wood like thin bony fingers rising from the sea to support us. The loose boards, broken railings and the gaps that allow us to see the ocean beneath us. No pier is complete without rotting supports and what must once have been temporary repairs. To a small child wobbling a plank that is all that stands between them and the ocean is amazing. Even in earlier enlightened times it was probably one of the rare occasions when you experienced risk and danger with your parents rather than being scolded later.
For those that don’t have the memories look at the shot below of my local pier. This broken arrangement pushes half a mile out to sea. The damaged, ageing construction survives the raw power of the North Sea as she fights to remove such man made violations. For those that have the memories, remember.