Hotel Victoria, Newquay, England 1981

My brother arrived in London, as welcome as spring after a grim winter. I chucked my job, packed up my flat and we took off to Europe together. There were castles, canals, beerhalls, museums and a Dutchwoman shouted at me in the street for wearing a Bundeswehr singlet. On our return, for reasons no longer clear to me, we went south to work the summer season, randomly hopping off the train in a Cornish town on the Atlantic coast, just north of Truro.

Paul and I found work [kitchenhand, chambermaid] at the Hotel Victoria, a crumbling pile perched over Tolcarne Beach. This once plush 19th century resort was requisitioned as a convalescent hospital for soldiers wounded in The Great War. By the time we arrived, the Vic had a sad, stranded look up there on the clifftop. It was, like any faded beauty, a haunted shrine to better times.