It never rains in California.

Camborne is many things.

To some, it is the cultural capital of their lives. A hub of dazzling creativity and sparkling innovation that shines as a beacon in the darkness illuminating its close neighbour, Redruth, showing it up to be the shoddy, rat infested, crust wiping cultural hell hole it is. The best thing to happen to Redruth was when the Twilight Zone burned down taking with it into history the bendy eyed lager swilling pond life that passes itself for manhood. Camborne’s cultural centre is the ‘Spoons’ which on a hot day is host to lively singing and friendly beer fuelled banter that only results in a visit the local cells if the men outnumber the women or if they run out of pasties or something amusing to say.

Camborne has its rugby, several pasty shops and a statue to one of the greatest engineers this country has ever produced. Its railway station is world famous, especially on Wednesday, and was once home to the Girls Grammar school, an institution of such repute that girls as far away as St Day would attend to avoid impregnation and an early grave that otherwise awaited them.

The population of Camborne is on the whole civil due in no small part to the relatively flat nature of its high street. From the church to the town clock, around the bend of Tyacks hotel and then up through Trelowarren street to Tesco. There is no need to struggle for breath like they do in Redruth whose hill is known around the county as the Cornish Everest. Why there was a need to build Redruth there on the side of hill is lost in history. Camborne was good enough, and there was no need to imitate perfection. Camborne needs Redruth like whisky needs custard. 

The nineteenth century bard of Cornish history, Gustavus Innuendo ‘Denzil’ Penberthy wrote in his book ‘A Most Invigorating and Intellectually Demanding History of the Mining Towns of Carn Brea and Surrounding Areas’ (1896): 

“Wasson with this bleddy ‘ill in Redruth? T’was well known that Camborne already had a ‘ill that was famous enough to ‘ave a song, so it can only be down to Redruth folk being so bleddy teazy that they continued what was Redruth, wot we know as West End, right on up the ‘hillside in th’ope that they’d get a song too.” 

Well, twenty thousand Cornishmen know the reason why they didn’t. Because people don’t sing songs about a shoddy, rat infested, crust wiping cultural hell hole no matter how many hills they have. Rome was built on seven hills but who sings songs today about “Going up Roman hills coming down?” For all their aqueducts, peace and public health, the Romans never got a song about their hills. If Nero couldn’t get a ditty penned about what fun it is in a wine soaked orgy fest, where vestal virgins are ‘buy one get three free’, what chance Redruth? It was ill situated from the off and it is easier to catch syphilis than it is a bus from outside the railway station. 

Camborne is many things, but mainly it is not Redruth.

Jeddah reminds me of Redruth, apart from the lack of hills. It has that same pointlessness in its location. One difference is of course the glaring lack of half naked young ladies lying in pools of their own vomit at two in the morning clutching half empty bottles of vodka WKD while a dog sniffs hopefully at the cold kebab between her knees. What the two share is the inhospitable geography. In both places you can’t help but think what is the point? What is the point of building a city in a desert? There are no gambling dens and strip joints as there are in Las Vegas. Neither are there any bars and therefore cabaret acts by washed up has beens from the 1970s.

Deserts are hot places and thus inhabited by sand ants, who only emerge for an hour at a time, a few dung beetles and the wind. It is coming to the end of winter, and the temperature if replicated in England would have the redtops printing “Phew, What A Scorcher” headlines, giving them justification to find the most revealing bikini clad young ladies cavorting on Brighton beach to put on the front page. It has not rained here since Noah parked his boat on a nearby mountain. It is not likely to rain for another 40 days and 40 nights either. 

In 1930, the spot where this hotel is, was just sand and a few scattered rocks, a characteristic it shares with the surrounding thousand square miles. Old Jeddah was a fishing hamlet way back in 522 bc. Some bloke and a boat sailed up the coast from Yemen, found a cave and some comfort in the shade of a date palm. With only a monkey for company in the ‘winter’, he slept most of the summer venturing out only for a piss and a date in the early morning. He never did think about building a city, rightly guessing that the infrastructure required would be beyond his intellectual and engineering capability and had yet to be invented in any case. 

In 1920, a British New Zealander Major Frank Holmes set up a Syndicate in London to explore for oil in the Middle East. His Arab name later was ‘Abu Naft’ – the Father of Petroleum. He was some boy, negotiating with the Saudi king in 1922 for access. So, next to nothing in development terms for centuries and then in the space of 100 years we get Jeddah. And Kuwait and Bahrain…all built on the proceeds of back gold. This is the complete and utter triumph of engineering ingenuity over nature. The temperature here will soon be an ‘average’ of 36 degrees during the day. Yes, That’s ‘average’. I can look forward to temperatures in the high 40s in July. That is physiological death. Standing in the main street will insure a sense of impending doom and an overwhelming feeling of suicide. Redruth can be like that and I’m sure thats what it will be like in Jeddah too if I go outside for too long. 

The Yemeni fisherman and his monkey of 522bc would be astonished to see what now exists. He’d spit out a date and crush a grape in wonder.

In 1976, the summer was so hot that Camborne ran out of ice cream and children played in the fountain in the square. People greeted each other and agreed that at least they had no hill to climb in the high street. Camborne is many things, and as hot as it can get for a day or too, it is not physiologically inhospitable. The rain soon returns to a chorus of moaning about the ‘bleddy weather’. It has now rained relentlessly from 1976 to this very day, so that now we crave a heat wave.

Well, stand outside here for 10 minutes in July and see how long your ice cream lasts. 

Published by Lance Goodman

Freelance writer, bon vivant and all-round good oeuf.

2 thoughts on “It never rains in California.

  1. Good luck with the heat. It’s bad enough here in the summer with days in the low 30’s. We are now enjoying high 20’s.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: