Melissa Keighley: Thanet – my adopted child

First, a disclaimer: I’m not actually from Thanet. I chose it, as we tell adopted children, because it’s special. Originally I’m from Bishop’s Stortford, an over-stuffed stockbroker belt end of Hertfordshire, but having no great liking for stockbrokers, I thought I might escape to the sea instead.

Best decision I’ve ever made. I love my adopted home passionately: Thanet is brimming with creative talent, with music, culture, drama, art; it’s a gurgling cradle of political and social dissent, of polite but firm rebellion against the established order; the micro-breweries are plentiful, the schools superb, the natives charming, and of course, it’s unutterably beautiful.

‘Total pigpen’

When my former neighbours told me Thanet was “up and coming”, I intuited they meant “sounds like a total pigpen, and I’m never coming to visit.” Which suited me just fine. Keep your desolate commuter town: I was going on permanent holiday.

I spent my first eight years here in Margate, then moved to Newington when Margate became too trendy. I felt fairly confident Newington would be safe from jam jar cocktails and ironic twirled moustaches for a few years more.

Urban myth?

After five years there, I agreed to marry a man who wants us to move to Broadstairs, post-nuptials. I’m a little anxious I’m not quite posh enough for Broadstairs, and its townsfolk might sniff me out and come at me with pitchforks, but my fiancee assures me that’s an urban myth, and as long as I recycle efficiently and display a Le Creuset set in our window, I should stay safe.

At any rate, the cheques have been signed and the move is in progress, so soon I’ll be able to boast I’ve lived in and loved all three towns.

Grooving and chauffering

I run music workshops in residential homes all over our sceptred isle, singing and grooving with mainly elderly residents, and calling it work. In my spare time I act a little bit, and drive my 15 year old son to endless assignations with cool. And I wedding plan like a demon. God knows what I’ll do with myself once the knot’s been tied. But more on that later, no doubt.

Up and coming? Pffft!

For now, I shall leave you with one fearsome image: today being hot, and residential homes hotter than Hades, I finished my day’s work, ripped off most of my clothes, and jumped in the sea to cool off. I swam for half an hour or so before the cold defeated me and I headed home.

However long I live here, the joy, the good fortune of that experience, never ceases to astonish me.

So don’t try telling me it’s up and coming. From where it’s sitting, it’s up and it’s come. And I’m very proud to be part of it.