When I was a child, my parents moved from Hove (actually), where the 5 of us all lived together in our first family home, to Lancing and then finally to Worthing, where they have settled to this day.
When I was old enough, I moved back to Hove because it is cool and posh and I’ve always thought of it as home and I liked to think I personified it somewhat 😉 At the age of 19 and without much adulting behind me, I quickly realised that due to the cost of living, people even without a growing family moved away from Hove out to the ‘burbs, sometimes to Lancing and sometimes to Worthing.
London was never an option for me. The idea of living in ‘the big smoke’ seemed overwhelming and I was a Sussex boy. Born and raised by the sea, which to this day, has the most calming influence on me, beyond anything prescribed by a Doctor. So by the sea I had to be.
During my relationship, it’s poignant to remember we bought a place and settled in Worthing and then due to wanderlust, left to go travelling around the World. Upon our return, we bought and re-settled again in Worthing, before immigrating to Australia, to live in Melbourne.
After spending 6 years living in The World’s Most Liveable City (only given that title, since I moved there, I hasten to add), I realised that other coastal towns have more pull and are much more desirable. Coastal cities, even more so.
Melbourne had everything I could desire and its size, opportunity, climate and proximity to everything I thought I could possibly need was so great, I can’t believe my thoughts about visiting this city years before, were pretty much ‘meh’.
So after leaving my sea view apartment, my fun job and all the bars, restaurants and coffee shops this newly founded Melburnian could desire, before starting upon his European adventure, I really wasn’t looking forward to returning to the dreary little town that time forgot. It’s most iconic features – the bandstand and the clock tower – both raised to the ground to all intense and purpose, to make the town even more underwhelming.
The day I set foot back here, was cold, uninspiring and just gloomy. The trees were stripped bare of leaves, the white tips of the grey waves crashing onto the un-comfy stones of the litter strewn beach, we so stubbornly lie on, during the 3 days of summer that England affords us, were the only flash of colour to break up the 50 shades of Worthing grey, which certainly doesn’t rival the events of the book with a similar name. Although, I thought to myself, the poor level of literary comprehension does seem on par with the author, due to the schooling system here and the student’s lacklustre desire to learn.
I wandered along the promenade, to the ailing town centre and thought to myself why are these people still here? Why don’t they choose to leave? Nothing has changed and I get the impression nothing ever will. And then I thought well, why should they? Why don’t I look at this from their perspective? This is the town my parents chose to create a better life for me and my brothers, where the cost of living was less, allowing us to live more. Isn’t that the reason other people are here too?
This is the town nestled with subtle prominence between the sprawling hills and vast country side of the South Downs and the English Channel, despite its current dreary appearance, being the gateway to the continent which I am choosing to explore and the World beyond, which I cannot get enough of. Things haven’t changed? Then doesn’t that mean the businesses here are sustainable? Necessary? The Dome, one of England’s oldest cinemas which was built 105 years ago, still showing modern films to this day, an institution? The Ardington Hotel, where my Aunt and Uncle in 1991 and my brother and his wife in 2014, all celebrated their wedding receptions, still not still a beautiful venue for people who are in love in Worthing today and who can see beyond the grey, due to rose-tinted glasses?
After 24 hours back in this unremarkable town on the South Coast of one of the World’s most desirable and infamous countries, a brief train ride away from the unique delights of Brighton and only slightly longer to London with its streets paved with potential, well-trodden with its abundance of multiculturalism, I’ve come to realise that you can wander everywhere in the World, which will always be my intension but it is great to have the familiar calling of home, of a comfort zone and a place that will never change because people actually like this town for what it is and whether you leave, stay or have never been, you realise that it is right for the people who are here and if it means they’re happy in a World which is filled with chaos and wonder, then bloody good for them. Bravo.
Not everyone can find happiness so accessibly and ultimately and somewhat surprisingly for me, some seem to have achieved it without the constant need to roam and see if happiness and contentment are around the next corner or unfathomably always just out of reach.
I then asked myself: are they really the lucky ones? Or did I just need that gentle nudge to tell me that we’re all lucky in one way or another and we all make our choices in the World to make it work for us. So wherever you go, you’ll find the leavers and the stayers, the deserters and fighters and you realise, these people who make up the population of the town of my family and my formative years are just a small pocket of people who make up the World, and make me want to travel as much as I do, so I can witness and enjoy this level of happiness and contentment wherever I go.
Home is where the heart is and I have to say, Worthing has a lot of heart.