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Ghost towns

Does anyone actually come from Aldeburgh, Southwold or Woodbridge? I ask because I’ve visited all three recently and overheard the same clipped accents discuss house conversions and restaurants. A former colleague has just moved to Woodbridge and built a house there.

Some towns make their living from tourism, but some exist in a permanent state of visitation. The locals seem to have no real roots in the area beyond expensive property and a love of the local ham.

This is an irony of The Rings of Saturn. The narrator is an outsider, but so in real life are the Suffolk locals. Each create their own local history, one light and humorous, the other darker:

Broadside is brewed to commemorate the Battle of Sole Bay, the fierce battle fought against the Dutch Republic in 1672 off the Suffolk coast. The English fleet was moored in Southwold with Admiral Edward Montagu [the Earl of Sandwich] and most of his sailors drinking in the local ale houses when called to action! Adnams Broadside beer bottle.

On the Royal James alone, which was set aflame by a fireship, nearly half the thousand-strong crew perished. No details of the end of the three-master have come down to us. There were eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen the commander of the English fleet, the Earl of Sandwich, who weighed almost twenty-four stone, gesticulating on the afterdeck as the flames encircled him. All we know for certain is that his bloated body was washed up on the beach near Harwich a few weeks later. The Rings of Saturn.

There are worse places to visit (and worse things to drink) on a winter’s evening.