Class on the coast

I cycle to the coast in the drizzle. The low tide exposes a smooth bank on which tiny crabs scuttle between pebbles and bladderwrack. This stretch of the coast – the closest to us – is a world away from the northern part. In fact the coastline as a whole is as clear a demonstration of the British class system as you could wish for. To the east, Great Yarmouth with its familiar story: once a rich port and Victorian holiday resort, now one of the most deprived towns in the country after decades of budget airlines, package holidays and a spiral of unemployment and neglect as the regional cities have gentrified and pushed those in the margins further out. Here are discount chain stores, betting shops and gaming arcades. Litter everywhere. The dogs of choice are terriers and rottweilers. In the north, at a suitable distance from the caravan parks, second homes in tasteful muted colours and Range Rovers have replaced the old fishermen’s cottages and carts. The beaches are wider and sandier, the pubs have Michelin stickers on their doors, the dogs are spaniels and labradors.

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