Comedian and author Jenny Eclair talks about her coastal childhood in Lancashire and the Cornish inspiration behind her new novel. Words: Alex Reece
My new novel, Inheritance, is set in an amalgamation of the Cornwall that I know. And the Cornwall that I know is a mix of Rock, Padstow and Fowey.
I based the main house in Inheritance – a modern-day family saga – loosely on a hotel I love very dearly, called Fowey Hall. It’s a lovely hotel and it ticks all my boxes.
My other favourite place along the Cornish coastline is St Ives. The Porthmeor Café underneath Tate St Ives is just a glorious café with the best view ever. I like watching other people surf – if you can’t surf yourself, watching other people do it is amazing. And I love the Barbara Hepworth Museum, which is just a stroll away.
The other bit of this country’s coast that I’m very, very fond of – in totally the opposite direction in some respects – is Blackpool. When my dad came out of the army, we settled in Lytham St Annes, near Blackpool, so I’m very used to being brought up by the sea. Lytham is on an estuary, so it’s not exactly Poldark crashing waves and cliff-tops, but I love Blackpool. It has a beautiful light, in the same way St Ives does.
Blackpool is much maligned. I think sometimes that stretch of beach is mind-bogglingly fabulous. It has also got some of my favourite kitsch places. Blackpool Tower and Circus are just unbeatable. Then there are The Winter Gardens, the Opera House and the Grand Theatre. I’ve done a couple of gigs at the Tower Ballroom for a charity in the area. And they are building a new Blackpool Museum of entertainment, which I think is a really good idea.
When I’m on tour, my favourite places to perform are by the coast. There’s nothing like a dressing room where you look through the window and you can see the sea. I love a pier, too. To be able to walk along a pier is a phenomenal thing. I used to work in the sandwich bar on one in St Annes, and I was sacked and then part of it burned down. But I had nothing to do with it…
Inheritance by Jenny Eclair is published in hardback by Sphere (£14.99), and available now.