Sam Taylor marvels at the world of the winkle but fears for her sink
Monday, 30 November -0001

'I stare out at Winkle Island willing the giant mollusc to send me magic powers'

Sam Taylor marvels at the world of the winkle but fears for her sink

As far as I know, Hastings is the only place in the country, perhaps even the known universe, with a roundabout called Winkle Island. It is the symbolic gathering place of the Winkle Club. The island boasts a flagstaff and a statue of a giant winkle. On special occasions the members of the club gather to wobble sticks and dance around it.

Winkle Club members are required to have a winkle on their person at all times. The mortal contents of the shell are removed (perhaps even eaten) and their places filled with sealing wax. It’s a serious business. If a member is challenged and caught without his winkle they have to pay a £1 fine – with all the money given to a local children’s charity.

Hastings Old Town BeachHastings Old Town Beach

The Duke of Edinburgh is a Winkler, as were Field Marshal Montgomery, Tommy Trinder, Sir Norman Wisdom and Lance Percival. Sir Winston Churchill was made a member in 1955 and I like to think of him carrying on his statesman-like duties with a little winkle in his pocket.

If I crane my neck, I can just see Winkle Island from the back garden of my (our) house. The small issue of the huge hole needed to drain the water away from my fantasy kitchen has not gone away and so Mr Greenwood has come round. Mr Greenwood has worked and lived in Hastings all his life. There are very few sewers in the vicinity that Mr Greenwood hasn’t had a look down and now he can add mine to his collection. Rather inevitably, my case is complicated. It is becoming increasingly clear that very few things about this house are going to be straightforward.

Winkle Island statueWinkle Island statue

The road will have to be closed, for as long as a week. He will have to bring in a mini digger; he has a choice of two, although the smaller one is his favourite. There will be a 10ft-deep trench from the back of the house to the bottom of the road. As a general rule, this doesn’t make you very popular with the neighbours, he says. No kidding, I say. I might also want to take a look at my initial budget predictions.

‘We can get you the drain,’ he says. ‘But you might not be left with much for the sink.’ He laughs. I think he meant it as a joke.

I stare out at Winkle Island, willing the giant mollusc to send me some magic powers or at least a Premium Bond win. It could be worse, Mr Greenwood says after a lengthy silence. Like a doctor delivering bad news, I suspect he likes to give his clients time to get used to the life-changing scale of the problem. How could it be worse I wonder? He says he’s not sure but he’s certain something will crop up. It always does.

Next week: Let’s just sell.



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