``Kiss me where the sun don't shine...''

Weston-Super-Mare is a town in the south-west of England. Physically, it is located about thirty miles south of Bristol and one hundred miles north of Exeter in the county of North Somerset. It has a population of about seventy thousand. The people of this town will insist to you that its name is French for 'west town by the sea', this, however, is clearly untrue (it would be called 'ville occidentale par la mer'). The name is a hybrid of Saxon and Latin, as spoken by medieval Britons who used the word tun, meaning settlement - hence west-tun = weston, super = upon, mare = sea.

During the second world war, the tourist board for this town (hereinafter referred to as Weston) decided it would be a jolly good idea to advertise what a sunny place it was to take a break from all the Nazi violence going on in the rest of the world in various national publications. Needless to say, these advertisements fell into the hands of the German intelligence who advised their air force to take a brief detour to Somerset on their next bombing blitz and perpetrate what was certainly one of the most senseless massacres of the twentieth century. The town is now twinned with Hildesheim in (former) West Germany.

Despite still advertising itself as a traditional seaside holiday spot, the southern part of the beach houses the infamous 'Black Rock' sewage works, which serves the area, the result of which is the general perception that it would be nothing short of suicide to go anywhere near the sea.

It is impossible to enter the town without feeling threatened; the feeling of hostility one encounters if forced to visit the place is, perhaps, the inevitable result of certain social problems. These are discussed best on the Knowhere online guide, from which I reproduce the following:

The whole town is one big hook-up spot for druggies and piss-heads from all around the UK, their favourite spots however seem to be:

  • Grove park - dope-heads and in the evenings, bedroom for the local beggars
  • Benches at crossroads in Baker St - piss-heads
  • High St - the local (wish they were) hard boys
  • Arcades - all of the above (doubled)

    All the scum hang around Weston in general, its a nasty place to live, over 15 drug rehab centres surround the town, with over 5% of the population known drug addicts. Heroin is rife and getting worse.
  • This, while fairly accurate, is presumably supposed to be satirical. For a more balanced view, I consulted the information on the area provided by the National Health Service (available online):

    The wards of Weston West and Weston South have relatively high levels of social and economic need and relatively high rates of premature death.

    On 21 April 2002, The Observer newspaper confirmed as fact, in a much-publicised investigation into drugs, the commonly-held belief that ten per cent of the drug rehabilitation clinics in the United Kingdom are based in Weston.

    Weston is frequently mentioned in popular culture. Novelist-cum-celebrity Will Self has painted a particularly unpleasant view of the town in his work while comedy double act Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson made it the subject of one of their Bottom routines. A result of this is the common belief amongst people from different parts of Britain that the town does not actually exist but that the name is a deliberately silly-sounding euphemism for craphole.

    Further information on the town may be found on the official website: weston-super-mare.com. At present, a click on the link titled General Information leads you to a page with absolutely no information on it whatsoever.

    The geographical location of the town, being on the south-west coast of Britain and, hence, directly in line with the Gulf Stream which is, in turn, emphasised by the bottleneck effect of the Severn Estuary, ensures that the weather is always horrible. Anyone who has heard the song Every Day is Like Sunday by Morrissey will be able mentally to conjure a fairly accurate picture of the place. The unusual environmental conditions mean that the bay has the second highest (and, it follows, lowest) tide in the world (after Sydney harbour); this fact often inspires the interest of visitors to the town until such a time as they are forced to confront the practicality of the situation: for eighty per cent of the time there is no visible sea whatsoever while for the rest of the time it is impossible to access the sea front without wading through fiercely churning sewage.

    Historically, the town is associated with violent clashes between rival youth gangs the Mods and the Rockers. While these social groups are no longer culturally relevant, the townsfolk have sought to preserve the tradition of horrific rioting. The target for their violence is generally now Spanish students, who turn up in their thousands. The only possible explanation for this is that a Spanish tourist operator somewhere whose proprietors hate young people with a venom are annually recommending this town of no historical interest to every school and college they can find.

    In October of every year, the town hosts the curiously named Enduro competition. This is one of the largest off road motorcycle events in Europe. While off-road motorcycling is certainly a perfectly legitimate sport, the consequences of inviting the entire Hell's Angel population of Europe to a town already famed for its shockingly violent inhabitants frequently prove disastrous.

    The following is taken from the town's official website:

    The future however, is hopeful. Weston retains much of its original charm. There are still the lines of limestone houses, the beautiful parks, the piers and, of course, the sands. Nowadays, people often take several short holidays a year and the town has adapted to meet those needs. Many initiatives have taken place in recent years to improve the surroundings and amenities, to carry the resort into the 21st century...

    Update: It has subsequently been put to me that, while the Severn Estuary does, indeed have the second highest tide in the world, the first is actually the Bay of Fundy, Canada. I decided, in the interest of accurate data, to consult an associate from the Plymouth Institute of Marine Science who advised me that this is, in fact, the case (Sydney Harbour is third). The original information came from a publication by the North Somerset tourist board and remains above for this reason.

    Also of interest is the infamous 'named and shamed' report published by UK tabloid News of the World at the end of 2001. This report listed all known convicted paedophiles in the country and general statistics relating to their whereabouts. Not surprisingly, Weston came out as the evil perverts' capital of the world, with 143 known offenders living in and around the town centre.

    Further research and advices passed to me have revealed the following list of points associated with the town, to which I will add as required:

    • Apparently, the self-styled world's wickedest man and everyones favourite evil-doer Mr. Aleister Crowley was a resident of the town for two years, living in a house opposite where Tesco is now. (Information gleaned from someone claiming to be a relative).
    • Famously convicted villain and would-be Mayor Jeffrey Archer held the office 'Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare'.

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