‘They were surrounded by Biro-wielding quiz fanatics… but how difficult could it be?'
Sam Taylor discovers that the locals are wary of the London invaders
For some Hastings residents, anyone not born within sight of the cliffs and the Dolphin chip shop on the seafront is to be viewed with a high degree of scepticism. No matter where the new arrivals hail from, they are all labelled as DFLs or Down From London – invaders armed with Farrow & Ball colour charts, CP Hart bathroom brochures and kitchen-design magazines.
These arrivistes (I count myself among them), buy up houses that have been left empty for years, spend their life savings bankrupting themselves on restoring them to their former glory, and then wander around attempting to share their sense of achievement with the local community. Unsurprisingly, they are usually ignored. But occasionally there is accidental assimilation.
Last week was a case in point. Alastair and Mark found themselves having a quiet drink in the Stag pub opposite Alastair’s painstakingly restored Tudor house – a seven-year marathon of love and debt that has resulted in a house now so authentic that even candlelight is seen as too modern.
As the pair took their seats in the near-empty saloon, the barmaid handed them a list of questions. ‘You are here for the pub quiz aren’t you?’ she said. Mildly confused, and not wanting to appear rude, they said they were only here for a drink and light supper (burger and chips, £6.99) but perhaps they would see how it went. As they were two of only three customers in the bar, they assumed it wouldn’t be going that well. If at all. But appearances can be deceptive and by the time their food arrived, so did the local opposition. They were suddenly surrounded by Biro-wielding quiz fanatics. There was nothing to do but to stay and fight.
They were outnumbered, but how difficult could it be? Both of them had been to public school. Alastair had written four books, was universally accepted as a style guru and his shop on the high street, Hendy’s Home Store, had set a new trend in ‘retail concepts’. Mark had sailed round Cape Horn, twice.
Their lack of a team name did attract attention but the barmaid solved that issue: ‘You’re the DFLs,’ she said bluntly. At the end of the first round, things weren’t looking good. The name of Del Boy’s tower block? The Bus Company in On The Buses? To stay in the game, they needed at least one correct answer.
‘How do South American cowboys catch ostriches?’ They felt certain they knew the answer. The locals knew otherwise. ‘Sorry,’ the quizmaster said. ‘Didn’t we tell you there were trick questions?’
There are no ostriches in South America, but there are a lot of ruffled feathers in Hastings.
Next week: Can I have a bath?
Daily tip from the lady archive
"It is not always she who appears most kindly in her interest who is the safe sharer of sacred (maybe sorrowful) secrets! Charming manners do not always connote sincerity of heart!”The Lady. In Confidence. 4th April, 1918