The final instalment of our trip to Blighty was a cheap and cheerful family gathering at Butlin’s in Bognor Regis for my Mother’s 80th birthday celebrations. On the morning of the great day we organised a modest birthday bash. The family assembled at the designated time and my eldest brother gave a speech as befits the head boy. This was followed by the British première of ‘The Only Virgin in London’ a photo and video montage of Mother’s life set to music. There was hardly a photo of the Bognor Belle without a fag in hand. Mother has puffed away on twenty a day since the Suez Crisis with few detrimental side effects. It’s a shame she can’t get her fix on prescription as the cost is crippling on a state pension. Liam had worked on the DVD for months creating a superb piece of slushy, sentimental art worthy of the grand occasion. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
I was pleasantly surprised by Butlin’s. Not at all the ‘Hi De Hi’ potting sheds and am dram vision of Hell I was expecting. There’s even a five star hotel attached. Apparently, Bognor is the oldest recorded Saxon place name in England and the sunshine capital of Britain, though the latter accolade is hardly worth bragging about. The town was bestowed the Regis suffix after George V convalesced there in 1929. Subsequently, on his deathbed royal aides attempted to console the grumpy and dim huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ King-Emperor by suggesting he would soon be well enough to visit Bognor again. His final words are widely, but incorrectly, reported as being “Buggar Bognor!” I have some sympathy with the sentiment.