Stretches of the south coast of England are almost interchangeable. I am very grateful for low tide as I trudge along the coast, hemmed in by relentless ribbons of hotels and gaudy amusement arcades. Coming back in the train my ears are assaulted by a group of drunk bellowing football fans in a small crowded carriage. Other passengers cower in their seats – strained fearful smiles. My spirits lift when I crawl into The Big Sleep hotel in Eastbourne, run by vintage geezers in tattoo, who offer me very cold beer.