One thing I haven't missed about not being in an English speaking country is being able to understand every stranger's conversation. In Iceland I was imagining missing out on lengthy analyses of Diderot and discussions on the topographical features of Bardurbunga, but now I can hear every word around me. For instance, Simon Cowell, I learned yesterday, is the key to a good series of X Factor, and Davina's workout DVD is thoroughly effective. It's like I never left. But from another passer by I heard that 'Shoreham is in the up-and-coming', and at least that got my prying ears thinking.
For one, there is a new footbridge as part of the 'Shoreham Renaissance Project', which cost something along the lines of £550,000. The original was a hotchpotch patchwork concrete/iron World War 1 trench simulation type deal, it's height may have protected you from the wind but the narrowness sure as hell didn't protect you from the loitering vagrants staring menacingly from the 'key-stone cage' in the center. This lottery-funded renovation strips the grey from this central fixture and imbues the river with new vitality thanks to the glass paneling and white base.
Furthermore, there seems to be numerous ideas when it comes to pedestrianizing the central areas of the community, which judging by the development strategy all share preference for trees and open spaces over pure densification. Plans at this stage tend to be overly optimistic, and Shoreham is a very awkward space to work with; secret muddy alleys I frequented on my adventures as a child represent all the miscalculations made in the post war years of development. The wasted spaces are used by the anonymous youth lit only by the glow of their cigarette in the darkness, beneath the sycamore. If the town's layout was represented by an organism, it would be something like a monster that lived under the stairs for too long, and is now familiar with the chiropractor's sturdy waiting room chairs.
Reading Victor Hugo has had a huge effect on how I see the world. Maybe you can see by the vast tangent I went off on above. This was indeed the downfall of Hugo in his critic's eyes, his inability to stick to a single topic. But it's something I love about his writing. Particularly the way he always describes the stage before talking us through the events, so that we know every wall and wormeaten windowframe before we are entered into the scene. How place has it's foreboding, it is leading me to quite an eccentric imagination in the town of a zimmer frame populace.