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On Farnham Beach by Chris James

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I must admit to being biased, I am a great fan of Chris's writing. In fact it was Chris's writing which resulted in me finding AD. So any new story from Chris is a draw for me. Farnham Beach is not exception. Chris has a talent for capturing the essence of a place that I can only envy. Already I feel I know Farnham Beach, although such places are completely alien to my experience. I also feel that I know the characters.

Having now read chapter two I am hooked and cannot wait for the other chapters to follow.

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​My sympathy to Nigel, stuck in the Midlands so far from the ocean. In this case a beach story has less meaning, but as an author perhaps he can use his imagination to conjure up surf and sand.

​Years ago I met a couple and their two young children on the beach in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They had driven all the way from Flint, Michigan just so their kids could have a beach experience. That's 900 miles one way for those of you who don't know. I don't imagine it was an easy trip stuck in a car with such young kids (six and eight as I recall), but they had a purpose in showing their children the ocean.

​Farnham may not be real but it is a compendium of all the beach resorts up and down the Eastern seaboard. Now that I have posted two chapters of imagery we can get on with the plot.

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​My sympathy to Nigel, stuck in the Midlands so far from the ocean. In this case a beach story has less meaning, but as an author perhaps he can use his imagination to conjure up surf and sand.

Chris, no where in England is more than 70 miles from the sea. So yes, I do have experience of the seaside, but English seaside towns are nothing like those found on the Atlantic coast of the USA. The nearest we probably have to anything like in the States is Blackpool, which is a pale imitation. The seaside culture here is very different, with American East Coast seaside culture drawing more on Dutch and German traditions than Anglo-Saxon sources.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I've been withholding my comments because, as the proofreader/Editor, I had the privilege of reading this in its entirety long before the rest. Didn't seem fair to tease everyone. LOL

​What I liked most about the story was the variety of situations; some humorous, some tense, a little excitement, and the inevitable frustration when seeing two boys trying to get a handle on their feelings and desires, and being frustrated by the circumstances which cropped up to thwart them. Then there were the little side trips we took while having conversations with older gay men which opened our characters' eyes to the complexity of life in the gay world.

​As usual, Chris created characters we could love and hate, sympathize with, shake our heads at, cheer for, jeer at, and, well, he gave us a complex community of people whose interactions were real and ​entertaining.

​For those on the fence about whether to give this story a try, rest assured your time will not be wasted.

​Just sayin', LOL


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"Friends come in and out of our lives like busboys in a restaurant," we are told. And this story reminds us of the truth of that admonition. So many fascinating, complex and exciting characters, relationships and adventures all now only glimpsed in our rear view mirror. They will be sorely missed. But a big thank you to Chris for letting us share with them a few wonderful summer weeks on the beach.

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  • 2 weeks later...

​So Rutabaga that private investigator I hired seems to have come up with a lot of good facts about your life. What, you think all my choices for locations in this story were random? Well, quite honestly, they were.

​I knew a math teacher at Landon, nice fellow and his wife. The stories he could tell about that place.

​Rehoboth was my beach of choice so I just gave Delaware a little stretch and made room for Farnham.

​As for Pittsburg, interesting town and Shadyside an interesting choice for the gay life.

I promise to leave you out of my next story. Keep smiling.

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All done.

Some highlights for me:

1. I love Granny.

2. I love Beetle. He's a great little brother.

3. I love the lacrosse moves to subdue the bad guys at Granny's party.

4. I love how well Freddy did with his magic.

And of course it was amazing how events arranged themselves for the boys at the end.

A rewarding read, not least because of the many familiar places.


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  • 5 years later...

Nice to see this story reappear as a Pick from the Past:  https://awesomedude.com/chris_james/farnham-beach/index.htm.

It really did seem to track a number of places I spent time growing up.  My parents eventually became full-time residents of the town just north of Rehoboth Beach, and experienced the onslaught of summer visitors each year followed by the relatively tranquil remaining seasons.

Each Spring, around Memorial Day, the Rehoboth local government would unbox hundreds of parking meter heads that had been in storage and put them on all the posts around the city streets.  Some time after Labor Day they would take them all down again, and then parking did not cost anything for the year-round locals.  There was always kind of a celebration when Removal Day came along.  

The Rehoboth Beach boardwalk actually has an arcade called Playland:



However, the amusement business in Chris's story more closely resembles a neighboring arcade called Funland, which is larger and nicer:



Pretty much all the attractions mentioned in the story -- especially Whack-A-Mole, Skee Ball, and bumper cars -- exist in Funland, along with a few rides in an outdoor section in the back.  See https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/delaware/funland-rehoboth-de/

Anyway, it was a wonderful story and worth a fresh read.


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Chris James has always been noted for his thorough fact-finding and authentic basis to his stories, and it's lovely to get this affirmation from you, Rutabaga.  I always enjoyed my forays into Rehoboth Beach when I was a young D.C. dandy. 

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1 hour ago, Merkin said:

I always enjoyed my forays into Rehoboth Beach when I was a young D.C. dandy. 

When I was growing up in Bethesda, Rehoboth was viewed as the "family 'beach" for the Washington area.  Ocean City, Maryland -- about a 30 minute drive south -- was more of a party beach, especially for college students.  The very large Phillips Crab House restaurant in Ocean City hired a bunch of students every summer to work in the restaurant, and they lived in separate male and female dormitories adjacent to the main location.  This may have been an inspiration for the dormitory angle of Chris's story.  

I was a little young and naïve to discern any gay life in Rehoboth, and given the town's family orientation it probably stayed as inconspicuous as possible, but I do remember a disco/dance club at the extreme north end of the boardwalk, far away from the mainstream tourist area, that was probably such a gathering place.  I don't remember if you had to be 18 or 21 to get in the door, but since I failed on both counts I never found out anything more.


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