Day 221: The Empire Hikes Back

Some Imperial walking shoes trudge into service for charity challenge

August 9 main

Surprised I’ve never thought about this before but in Twitter-speak are Imperials Walkers called @@s?

Yeah, I’ve featured a few AT-ATs on the blog before, but you can’t beat a good AT-AT visual gag. Or a gag like “The Empire Hikes Back”. ’Cos these are walking shoes, supplied by an old university mate Fraser James. Unlike me, he stayed in the Canterbury area. He obviously has a higher tolerance for hordes of French schoolchildren in matching purple backpacks than I do.

Whitstable old neptuneFraser’s actually made me all nostalgic for my time in Whitstable, the little Kentish fishing village I lived in for two years while at uni. I spent the other year year in Herne Bay, a place I absolutely loathed. I know there’s a very active SF crowd in Herne Bay now, so I’ll probably get hate mail for slating the place, but dear lord it was mindnumbingly dull when I was there. Everyday wasn’t like just any old Sunday; every day was like a Sunday that falls on 2nd January, when all the fun of festive season is behind but the New Year isn’t starting properly quite yet, and the whole universe seems suspended in a no man’s land of leftover food, stale alcohol, bad TV and sprout-fuelled flatulence.

And it’s raining.

I’m sure the sun did shine at some point during my time in Herne Bay, but my memory is all grey, rainy days, stuck in cars at zebra crossings waiting for endless streams of Zimmer frames to get from one curb to the other.

Whitstable was great, though. Quirky, charming and, crucially, five minutes drive nearer the university. There were also little pockets of student activity, including the sea front pub The Old Neptune (aka, the Neppy), which seemed particularly popular with drama students at the time. You could always tell the drama students by the way they air hugged mates when the came in the door, before then hugging them for real a few seconds later. It was like they were using some kind of “hug radar” to detect each other in the crowded bar.

Peter Cushing Whitstable

Peter Cushing in Whitstable

Whitstable at the time was also home to Peter Cushing. I never spoke to him, but he did nearly ran me down on his bike once. He was actually quite visible in the town – nobody ever seemed to treat him as a star, he was just another bloke who bought his sausages at the high street butcher’s – and that, in a way, for a sci-fi fan like me made him even more unapproachable. I wanted to talk about Hammer Horror and Stars Wars, but he’d clearly moved to Whitstable as a way of escaping all that; it would have felt like an intrusion to tap him on the shoulder when he was on the Island Wall painting a watercolour of the beach huts and go, “So did you really wear carpet slippers when you played Grand Moff Tarkin?”

But part of me still wishes that I had.

And Herne Bay? Herne Bay has a stubby pier and a dodgy sewage system.

See you tomorrow.

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• Current total: £1,110

• Remember this is all for charity, so any pennies or pounds you can spare PLEASE DONATE BY CLICKING HERE.

• Follow me on Twitter to make sure you see what trainers I’m wearing each day.

• If you have any trainers you could donate (either on loan or old pairs you’re getting rid of) which are size 9 (ish – I can do anything  from 8 to 10) contact me at davegolderSFX@gmail.com so I can arrange collection.

• Please, please, please leave comments below! I’m after ideas for mini-challenges, future photoshoots and how I can find enough pairs of trainers!

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