Hanging near the “entrance” to Whitburn Village (actually the traffic island by the Jolly Sailor pub) there used to a painted village sign, depicting a fish rising from the waves. I say fish, but it was one of those heraldic fishes that could just as easily represent a dolphin to the untrained eye. I can’t remember the last time I saw the sign; it used to disappear to make way for other decorations at Christmas, but it seems that one of those occasions was the last and it hasn’t reappeared.
The symbol itself lives on in a somewhat simplified incarnation on the badge of Whitburn School, and a three-dimensional dolphin took its place. This was a wire framework supporting a floral version that initially appeared on the same traffic island, but eventually moved to a spot near the border between Sunderland and South Tyneside where it slowly mouldered away into decrepitude.
Last year it was replaced by a more permanent version, carved from reclaimed timber and standing 10 feet tall it’s a nice piece of work… but it’s standing in a field with trees behind it. To be fair, it is facing the sea, and has one eye on Latimer’s Sea Food Deli, so it’s probably not unhappy, but a dolphin in a park. I know it is visible to all who pass along the coastal road, but it should have a more maritime setting surely?
The second incongruity I spotted when out cycling today was a simple park bench. Nothing wrong with its location either. Looking out to sea across the beach at South Shields. What caught my eye was its temporary condition. The recent storms have rendered it useless to all but those with the shortest of legs.
Maybe it works though. They do call the locals sand-dancers.