“Tatty Seaside Town”
So readers have been asking in their droves: where is Sunnyport? Those photographs seem familiar…
A cursory glance at a map of Southern England will reveal no such place. It is of course a fictional location, but as all such places, one rooted in some real experiences. We thought it might be informative and enlightening to list some of the ideas that run behind the town.
Inaptronymic placenames: it is the author’s general experience that the pleasantness of English seaside town-names is indirectly proportional to how agreeable the towns really are. Thus “Claphole-by-Sea” would be perfectly nice, but “Haven Bay” would be a crime-ridden rat-infested nightmare. Incidentally, the same applies to hotels and public houses. Any public house called The Friendship will have an undercurrent of violence, and any hotel called the Bella Vista will face a gasworks.
Sunnydale: which holds a special place in our hearts even twenty years on.
Innsmouth: “you’ll never leave” – a local town for local people.
Seaside holidays in the nineteen seventies: for many reasons the author does not wish to relate his experience of holidaying in B&Bs of various kinds, nor expand on the manner of hospitality extended in such places. To our readers who visited the English seaside in decades past, I am sure the reasons are clear. To those who missed such an experience, the first chapter of Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small island” should serve as an introduction.
And one thing that is not an influence on the fictional town of Sunnyport…
London-by-Sea: The self confessed “tatty seaside town” of Brighton (and Hove) will quite often be the “location shots” for Sunnyport. As a previous resident of this wonderful and unique town I can wholeheartedly state that Sunnyport is not Brighton. Brighton is much, much weirder.