“Who is he? Who is he?” I removed my earphones just in time to realise my nan was talking to me, not recreating, albeit wrongly, a classic Big Brother moment.
“Who is who?”
“This Banksy. Who is he?”
“An artist. Nobody knows who he is though.”
“Someone must know who he is. Where does he keep his money?” I didn’t realise we were planning a heist. My interest was piqued but I still didn’t know Banksy’s identity or his bank details sadly. “If nobody knows who he is how do people know what paintings are his?” This was a good point. I still didn’t know Banksy’s identity though. The family road trip continued in the direction of Cromer, other topics cropped up and I thought it might be safe to put my earphones back in. Then:
“He must have some sort of protection.”
“This Banksy.” Oh, That Banksy. Immediately my mind conjured up the image of a giant condom with arms doing some stencil work. There’s his protection.
A few days previously, packed like sardines into a Nissan Qashqai, me and me mum and me dad and me gran (and me brother) sans a bucket of vindaloo, had travelled to Sheringham on the North Norfolk coast. Norfolks given. Sheringham is an old family haunt and somewhere we make an annual jaunt to in the name of a family holiday that my nan can join in with and enjoy. Having fallen out of the car I took a stroll to the seafront and posted a picture to my Instagram story. On our arrival at the holiday cottage we were renting I noticed that my friend Paul had replied to said story to ask where I was in Norfolk and to tell me about the Banksy (This Banksy? That Banksy?) in Cromer. It was the first I’d heard of it and I immediately added it to my list of activities for the week.
No sooner had I put my phone down than there was a knock at the door. Imagine that, winning the Postcode Lottery while on holiday. Alas it was the owner of the holiday cottage asking how we were settling in and ready to offer advice on things to do in the local area. What ensued was my dad blowing a raspberry in her face, “we’ve been coming to Sheringham for 30 years, we know it like the back of our hands.” I’ve embellished here. What really happened was a game of tennis where the owner and my dad hit Norfolk FactsTM over the net to one another. One such fact the owner pulled out was the Banksy in Cromer. That Banksy. How did she know about it? Was she That Banksy? Or was she some kind of sorceress reading my Instagram inbox? In any case, she put us on the right track to find the This Banksy when in Cromer.
The plan had been for me to hop on the short train journey from Sheringham to Cromer and go off in search of the This/That Banksy early one morning. I announced as much around the dinner table that evening.
“I think I’ll go to Cromer and find the Banksy one day.”
“That’s a good idea. We’ll go see the Banksy one day.” My Mum chipped in. She may as well have smashed the spanner she threw into the works over my head. I’m 30, sometimes I need a little bit of space, even on a family holiday. Angst isn’t just for teens.
Roll the calendar on a few days and the time had come. There was as much chance of my 86-year-old grandmother making it on foot to the This Banksy, as I have of securing a date with Jennifer Lopez but we all piled into the car for a day out regardless. While I waited for Jlo to realise the man of her dreams was on a family trip to Norfolk and hit me up I decided the best course of action was to remain active and follow the directions the holiday cottage owner had given us. Leaving the adults, my brother and I (who are also adults apparently) set off. Please excuse me while I do some travel blogging on this travel blog and relay the directions to you dear reader.
Firstly, locate the pier. This is a long wooden structure that straddles the beach and goes into the sea. What will they think of next? For convenience there is a picture of Cromer pier below. It can also be seen in Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa if you need more help identifying it.
Pier located, now turn right. “Right facing the pier or from the pier facing land?” My brother asked. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know. So I blagged it. “Right facing the pier.” You should do the same, because I was correct.
“Walk all the way along the promenade until you reach the beach huts,” we were told. “The Banksy is on a wall there.” This piece of information is slightly misleading. We took the first set of stairs down on to the beach to scour the sea wall below for some street art. Sand walking is slower than promenade walking. Don’t go on to the beach just yet if you’re in a hurry. Keep walking to the end of the beach huts. Then take the ramp down onto the first bit of promenade free beach. Turn left, and left again to face the groyne (snigger. The groyne is the wall that breaks the waves FYI) and there it is. That Banksy!
If you are in Norfolk it is certainly worth the trip to Cromer to see the This/That Banksy. The walk along the seafront is nice although potentially challenging for those who are less mobile. With that in mind, I sent a text to my Mum telling her such and my brother and I returned to the rest of the family via a circuitous trip around the block. Just incase Jenny was there, it’s where she comes from you know. Don’t be fooled by the rocks that she’s got.
Pictures of the This Banksy were shown, ice creams purchased and devoured, then it was time to go back to Sheringham. In the car belts clicked into place and we were away. I was about to place an earphone in my ear when… “Who is he?”