“There’s a wonderful energy to Hastings. It feels like somewhere that’s on the cusp of something. And I’d love to do a Polari event in Hastings, so watch this space”
in Hastings, a number of other prominent London-based writers and journalists have confided in him that they’re also looking to relocate to the seaside town. He predicts a significant migration in the next few years. The laid-back, creative ambience is, he says, naturally attractive to artists. The old town in particular, with its little boutiquey shops wouldn’t look out of place in trendier parts of London and is an instant draw for writers. “There’s going to be a lot of regeneration and I’d like to be a part of that,” he enthuses. “I’d love to do a Polari event in Hastings. I didn’t make it part of the tour for the simple reason that we already had Brighton and the aim was to cover as wide an area as possible. But I do think it’s interesting and it possibly needs to be addressed that Hastings doesn’t have its own literature festival — so watch this space…”
Paul’s Hastings highlights
The old pier They’re currently refurbishing it and I love just sitting there looking at it. There’s a romance about old piers. I love the interaction of this incredible human-built structure with the ferocious ocean. The Flower Makers’ Museum We came across this wonderful shop purely by accident and it had all these amazing hats in the window. I love hats. I have about 20! (58a High Street, Hastings, TN34 3EN, tel: 01424 427793) The White Rock Hotel Everyone has breakfast/brunch there. It’s very much part of our routine when we visit. Lovely view and they do a great lunch. You can sit outside, overlooking the sea. (thewhiterockhotel.com) Rock House My dear friend Sam Taylor’s house is so special. It was once owned by Elizabeth Blackwell, who was the first woman physician. It was derelict for years and Sam is renovating it in a very particular way, using materials that would have been used at the time it was built. It looks stunning and is going to be a tourist attraction.
Paul says: “Dressing up has become an integral part of Polari, but before I got married in 2007 I didn’t own a suit. My wedding suit was a Pal Zileri, from Harvey Nichols. That same year I launched Polari and wore it on stage, but I quickly realised I needed more suits. It was the start of a wonderful new obsession… “Zegna is my favourite. Pal Zileri: I have two of these, including my wedding suit. Again, great tailoring. Hugo Boss: I own three of these. They tend to be flashier. “I now have so many suits that I’ve taken over my husband’s side of the wardrobe. It’s ludicrous.”
18 | s us se x st y l e . c om | n ov em ber 2014
Photography by Krystyna FitzGerald-Morris
tour. Before we knew it we’d booked three viewings.” Paul saw flats in Cornwallis Gardens, a picturesque Victorian square close to the town centre and a short stroll from the seafront. The first property had a poorly disguised damp problem and the second violently sloping ceilings that would have made furnishing problematic. He plumped for the third, which was at the top of an elegant villa, complete with a beautiful balcony offering stunning views. The flat is near the old town with its heady mix of galleries, idiosyncratic shops and eclectic restaurants, but also close to the station and university — meaning that it will be easy to rent out. But Paul is looking forward to living there first. The location, he feels, will undoubtedly fuel his writing. “I can’t speak for all writers but for me being in a different environment brings out different things,” he muses. “It’s a cliché, but I do think the sea air is good for you. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that so many writers in history have lived by the sea. “Hastings has a very exciting vibe at the moment. Perhaps it’s me and not London, but it feels to me as if London is quite jaded now. I’ve been here for 30 years and the feel of the city has changed: it’s become far less bohemian and cultural and much more about commercialism, money and conspicuous consumption. The heart has gone out of it. “There’s a wonderful energy to Hastings. Curious oddities and eccentric people are around every corner. Going there invigorates and relaxes me. It feels like somewhere that’s on the cusp of something. Suddenly it’s on everyone’s radar.” Since Paul announced on Facebook that he was buying