Caught by the River

Caught by the Reaper

Charles Rangeley-Wilson | 23rd January 2012

Words & picture by Charles Rangeley Wilson.

Christmas Eve brought Moby Dick to the coast of North Norfolk: a fifty-five foot sperm whale washed onto the beach within yards of a public car park and access path in Old Hunstanton. The decomposing corpse of Moby – Ahab may have been inside it – soon became a ghoulish tourist attraction. The resort’s cafe’s and restaurants had never known it so busy in mid-winter. The owner of the car park is said to have done rather nicely, and even a Chinese Restaurant miles away on the road north to … “the only east coast resort that faces west” … reported a brisk trade in crispy duck thanks to the presence of a dead whale. It seems that even in the digital age we need our sea monsters.

But what do you do when you go to see a dead whale? Mostly stand in front of it to get your picture taken it seems: men by the jaw (rendered toothless by some local youth who put the whale ivory on ebay and got collared by Old Bill for his efforts), women by the rather large whale penis. “Go on, get closer,” urged boyfriend after boyfriend. Mostly then, north Norfolk was grateful for the delivery, but it couldn’t last. The rotting whale was a health hazard and warnings soon came thick and fast about touching it, going near it without safety equipment, windsurfing or even thinking about eating shellfish. Contractors came and took it away in pieces, hauled into a dumper truck by a long reach digger. Sadly, this bull sperm whale was in no state to ram its assailants. There was no sinking of the Essex in Old Hunstanton. Instead one only wondered if the biomass of the north sea hadn’t been robbed of a few tons of useful protein.

Charles is a guest at the Antidote Alive! event taking place tomorrow night at The Stag public house, Hampstead, London. Advance tickets are on sale HERE priced £5.00 (£7 on the door).