Rant Whitstable

Red Spider Cafe

Before I start my regular blog I want to write about Whitstable and The Red Spider Cafe.

The Red Spider Cafe was a charming shack on Whitstable beach that, throughout my childhood, served tea and cake.  It closed some time in the late 70’s and stood derelict for many years.  The Red Spider was finally demolished in the 1980’s during the massive beach renovation and sea-defence construction.

I have always dreamt of the Red Spider being rebuilt.

There’s something non-Whitstable people need to know about Whitstable Beach: it is an anomaly.   Unlike most beaches in the UK which are owned by the Crown Whitstable Beach is owned privately by my friend Barry Green’s company.

There’s something else non-Whitstable people need to understand.  If Barry had not bought the Whitstable Oyster Company and preserved it and the surrounding buildings the Oyster Stores would have been demolished.  They were slated for demolition.  Barry saved the building and by doing so saved the town.

Barry is not a philanthopist..he is a businessman.  The Red Spider cafe will make a profit.  It must be rebuilt because Whitstable needs to continue evolving and growing.  People need jobs.  Especially now.

Barry’s eldest son Richard and I instigated the restaurant at the Oyster Company (Royal Native Oyster Stores) that almost single-handedly regenerated Whitstable’s fortunes.

Nobody local took the restaurant very seriously when it first opened.   I cooked,  Richard served.  Within a month it was packed.  Every day.

During those early years I begged Barry to rebuild the Red Spider and now, twenty years after it was torn down, the Red Spider may indeed be rebuilt.  However, Whitstable and the people who now live there, has changed.  Middle class, ‘keep it as it is‘, ‘terrified of change‘ type people now vocally oppose the rebuilding of what was once a great, water-side resource.


Red Spider in the snow

They are frightened of alcohol being served at the Red Spider even though just a hundred feet away stands the Neptune Pub which is a very messy, unkempt affair.

They are scared of the suggested long opening hours even though the building is further away from homes than the nearest, noisy pub.

They say that the rebuilding of the Red Spider will have an ‘environmental impact’ which is just bull shit and proves how far these detractors will go to stop the Red Spider cafe from being rebuilt.

The Red Spider Cafe 1950's

Obviously I am totally in favour of the rebuilding of the Red Spider Cafe as I am also, unfashionably, in favour of Barry rebuilding the beach huts along the beach.  As one can see from the photograph above there were huts all over the beach when I was a child and they enhanced the charm of the town and more importantly the beach.

The sort of people who complain about The Red Spider are the sort of people who frankly don’t understand Whitstable and more importantly resent the difficult, unruly Greens and their stunning success.

Did you notice that the crude painting of the ‘red spider’ looks more like a tick?


Oh yes, and before all you new Whitstable people wonder what business it is of mine…I am presently buying a property in Whitstable after only 4 years of absence.

Yesterday ended up being more fun than I anticipated.  Occasionally things happen that inadvertently make sense of uncomfortable feelings.    What started out as a day where I couldn’t even raise my head ended at an AA meeting where my perspective changed, my positivity regained.

What seemed important in the morning was less so in the evening.

This is the AA reality.  It is almost impossible to burn ones bridges.  The door is always open.  It is a club where anyone is welcome…forever.  The friendly faces may change but they remain friendly and welcoming.  It really is the best club in the world for a person like me.

So, as I said, yesterday began with a feeling of uselessness.  Even though I have more going on than I have all year (the film) I still felt like a husk, a useless, unevolved husk.   I had a beard trimming accident in the morning so lost my beard.

The little Dog and I went for a long walk to the new Rambla Pacifico road which has come once again grinding to a halt.

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I sat at my desk and ticked more things off of my moving list.  Roger stopped by and ate pfeffernusse which are spiced german cookies.  The choreographer visited later.   He was a great deal of fun persuaded me to buy an album by Concha Buika (beautiful) and by so doing goaded me out of my bad mood and my house and into the aforementioned AA meeting.

Before AA I decided to go to the last few days of the RRL sale at the Malibu Lumber Yard.  I bought a shirt, waistcoat, vest and a pair of gray woolen trousers.  Ended up wearing this very fetching outfit sans beard at dinner with the choreographer.  We ate at Sauce in Venice.  We ate a huge plate of excellently prepared green vegetables.

Looking in the mirror this morning I do indeed look very puffy and unattractive but hey, that’s the way things are and at my age things are only going to get a whole heap worse so I may as well get used to it.

I don’t feel ugly on the inside.  In fact, I feel very good indeed.

Gay Rant

The Storm Passes

The storm is well and truly passing.  The stack of unopened mail on my dining room table can be opened.  The Malibu house is now rented for the time that we were going to be there.  The bathroom floor can be mopped.  The thick LA dust over the marble side tables can be washed away.

I can now turn my attention to Kristian once again.  So many beautiful tributes to him on the internet.  I like that they have recast him as a film director who also made TV.  He would be liked to remembered like that.  I have not yet scanned the pictures of Kristian and I.   They are very sweet.

I will bake another walnut and banana cake in his honor.

I have a few really important decisions to make which may very well mean that I have to go home, my tail between my legs.  Home to London.   I don’t feel bad about that.  I have had a total blast in LA and as this blog is proof life seldom gets boring.

There was a time before I met Richard, Jamie, Joe, Him, Matt-a moment before we met and that moment has to be reclaimed.  Before the note arrives, the stare across the busy club, the man at the top of the ladder, (I can’t remember how I met Jamie) the men who I have been most moved by.  I showed Him pictures of Matty and could not remember what it was to love Matty.   I can just remember driving in the pea green sports car down the M2 motorway to Whitstable and wondering if I could let him go without damaging him.  Like letting a fish go after you have caught it, removing the hook from its delicate mouth and setting it free.

I still remember Richard of course.  Richard Green,  the great love of my life.   Twenty five years ago he was at the top of a ladder outside the Oyster Company in Whitstable.  He was wearing tight white shorts and for five exquisite years we explored the world.  Tempestuous, glorious years.  Of course I never slept with him.  Even my mother knew that I loved him and was disappointed for me when he would flirt with girls in front of me.

He would drag girls into the bushes at country dances and return with stains all over his dinner jacket!

Sometimes I would arrive back at my darling cottage and he would be asleep on the sofa.  A window broken.  I didn’t care.

You know I have 50 intimate pictures of Him and Matty and  Jamie but I don’t have one picture of Richard Green.  Not one.  He is middle-aged now-like me-older and fat and by all accounts a miserable bastard.  But if we walked in through that door right now I know that we would begin where we left off.  We would have a huge amount to say and do.  He was utterly fascinated by the world and I was his willing side kick.  He was a perfect love because I had no interest in sex or relationships with other men-I had him and he was enough.  He was enough.

Isn’t it funny that I would include Him in the list of those who meant most to me.  I think that might change as time passes.  I would never have been able to trust him.  The next man he meets will not know his story will trust him and love him.

It is a perfect spring day in LA.  I am seeing Michelle later and hanging with Frank.  I like Frank.  Not like that!  Not so soon after the last fiasco.   Now, it’s Runyon time with the little dog.