No Matter What You Are, No Matter Who You Are…
On Sunday 22nd July … You’re a PIRATE!
Back in 2009, some brilliant minds decided to host a gathering of pirates in the supposedly idyllic seaside town of Hastings. They encouraged members of the public to come and roam around town dressed as buccaneers and wenches, marauders and seadogs. The aim: to break the Guinness World Record for “Largest Gathering of Pirates”.
They beat the record by 2,000 people; their total was 6,166.
Today, just three years later, thanks to an advanced online campaign, flyers plastered all over town, and just general word of mouth, Hastings saw 14,231 pirates storming its beaches, flooding the old town and climbing the cliffs; brandishing plastic swords, scoffing burgers and drinking the pubs dry. The Red Arrows made an appearance at this prestigious event, flying over the beach and entertaining the colourful crowd. The fairground was very popular, as was the Adventure Golf and F8 Karting track. Queues were abundant; for the toilets, the cafes, and the only ATM in the Old Town.
There were but a few rules in place: pirates must wear a pirate style hat/bandana/headscarf, carry an accessory such as sword, musket, skull, eyepatch, parrot or skull and crossbones flag, wear a plain shirt or striped shirt and pantaloons or jeans.
The true magic of the day was captured in the broad spectrum of participants. Firstly, there was no age restriction in place to be a pirate; toddlers chased one another across the pebbled beaches waving their tiny toy guns, teenagers congregated outside the fish ‘n’ chip shops, over 18s poured alcohol into their litre bottles of Coke, parents pushed prams through town, older chaps drank outside pubs singing ‘Drunken Sailor’, octogenarians chatted happily in all their pirate finery.
Also, the beauty of Pirate Day is that it is now international. Pirates fly in from all over the world to be part of this legendary event. French and Spanish families wander up and down the seafront babbling and giggling, coaches of Italian students pull up and teenage pirates pour out. It’s quite humbling to see.
For the past few years I’ve missed Pirate Day; I’ve always been on holiday or away from home for some other reason, so this year I was determined to make a real go of it. I donned my once-fashionable never-worn harem trousers, my old pirate waistcoat from the dressing up box, slipped my feet into bejeweled flip flops, and wrapped a designer Primark scarf around my head. I took part in the queuing for proper seaside chips, abused unsuspecting bystanders with my cutlass, and indulged in a little amateur pirate-speak. It was everything I hoped it to be.
Highlight of the day? Watching a gang of pirates thunder down the high street in a homemade pirate ship.