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Founding Origins

WarmNorm's Story

The rubbish tale of WarmNorm's arrival in Eastbourne meeting the mysterious "Other Bloke" ... and how an ecological movement was born over the lockdown  -- as told by WarmNorm in his own inimitable style 

BHASSEXPLORE is a fledgling organisation conceived and established only in the spring of the rather interesting year of 2020...

Founding member, WarmNorm moved to Eastbourne, East Sussex in March that year and immediately began to explore the adjacent coastline and downsland. 

Right on the doorstep of Eastbourne, the beaches and grassy footpaths drew him like a magnet. On these early excursions into the rich landscapes WarmNorm became aware of the masses of plastic trash that was washing up or being discarded on the shingle beaches and in amongst the rocks that were exposed as the tide receeded...

 

Starting on the shingle, he began to litter-pick these plastic objects. As his wanderings extended a little further each day, he cleared up the litter from the footpaths at the foot of the downs near the beginning (or end) of the South Downs Way... Both the coastal route, beginning at Holywell and some of the grassland routes leading to Beachy Head converge on, or pass, the metal staircase linking the beach to the top of the cliffs at Cow Gap...

It was here, on WarmNorm's first discovery of Cow Gap - an amazing gateway to the lower regions beneath the chalk and flint cliffs, that he stumbled across a large pile of accumulated plastic debris.   

 

Being inquisitive, WarmNorm set about investigating this large pile of collected beach trash that had been piled up way above the high tide mark on a flat piece of ground abutting the cliff base at this scenic and peaceful spot... 

 

There as a plethora of rubbish from the smallest of everyday items, such as bottle tops and fragments of food packaging, through a full range of plastic bottles and containers - every conceivable type, shape and form of polystyrene and foam pieces, numerous single flip flops, all in various states of decay, all manner of fishing industry detritus and shipping and boating flotsam and jetsam and many other more obscure objects, car parts, stuff... It was mind boggling array of debris and, the incurable skip monkey that he was WarmNorm could not resist delving in to this intriguing collection of man made junk...

It was abundantly clear to WarmNorm that someone or some people had gone to a heck of a lot of effort to clear all this waste off from this rugged coastal paradise and get it up out of the reach of the sea.  Much of the smaller plastic trash was stored in makeshift containers... a tatty whitish hippo bag was full to the brim and almost to heavy to even move an inch! A black and grayish, king-sized double duvet cover was stuffed full to bursting point with foams, polystyrene and plastics and a nylon pale blue sleeping bag was similarly full of small to tiny synthetic garbage... all around were trashed lobster pots and rubber tyre strips used by the fishing industry, floats and buoys from boats, random well-worn lengths of plastic rope of all manner of colours and thickness and lengths and states of decay and entanglement, nylon nettings and meshes, plastic drums and containers and jagged metals...

all around were trashed lobster pots and rubber tyre strips used by the fishing industry, floats and buoys from boats, random well-worn lengths of plastic rope of all manner of colours and thickness and lengths and states of decay . . .

At that moment BHASSEXPLORE was conceived...

like most conceptions, no one actually registered the conception...WarmNorm was in a trance-like reverie as he rummaged through the rubbish before him... (a bit like David Bellamy in the bushes)... object after object caught his eye and imagination, what was this? what was that? where had this come from and how did THAT! get here? ... all questions that entertained WarmNorm's boggling mind...

Chuckling at the bizarreness of this collection and puzzling as to who had curated it, WarmNorm set out separating its components into separate piles... in a controlled frenzy stuff was transferred from the jumbled jungle of trashmobelia into ordered piles of junkolia... pausing only to inspect the occasional more interesting object or to read the eroded scripts on some surfaces these sortings continued late into the afternoon and many small creatures such as snails, spiders, wood lice, worms, ants and hopping shrimp like hoppers were disturbed from their decaying homes and had to find new abodes...

WarmNorm felt sad about this, but vowed to remove as much of the disintegrating mass of pure plastic poo as possible so that no more wildlife would ever take up residence in it again... Sadly some snails and other creatures were harmed in this process and he was sorry for having played a part in that harm.

This sadness only spurred WarmNorm on... this disgraceful shambles of humanities folly had to go and had to go soon... gripped by a new furtherance and in a heightened state of calm mania, he rejoined the fray against this major mole hill of mess beneath the chalk mountains of the downs. 

Any thing of slight interest was put aside by for later observance or use,

large or heavy objects were placed together in like-for-like groups, sorted by material and form. Totally useless stuff and tiny bits went in the hippo bag, plastic bottles and foams etc into the duvet cover, unidentifiable things and disgusting stuff into the rather dubious looking sleeping bag (thankfully there was not too much stomach churning stuff, some festering dog poo bags, kindly added by inconsiderate dog walkers were the worse items, but weird, liquidy growths and slymes were aplenty in the decaying bottles and containers, and WarmNorm, somewhat perversely never uses protective gloves, nor was he wearing protective clothing, what had started out asstroll but what had morphed into a planet saving crusade in his dizzyingly spinning but focused mind.

people passed and smiled, or nodded, or stopped to talk, or ignored and avoided the bearded scruff who beavered away at his mound in every favourable moment

Things were shaping up and as a determination grew to remove the worst of the trash back to the nearest bins over a mile away.  WarmNorm was curious to  meet whoever responsible for painstakingly scouring and clearing the fairly clean beaches and coast along from Holywell to Cow Gap. This is a semi-wild stretch that was exposed to all the sea and weather systems that could throw at it and out of reach of the wonderfully efficient Eastbourne borough council refuge clearing teams...

 

So, who...or what...had done this thing? That was a question to be pursued another day and, although already murky in the mists of time, the next few days and weeks of March and April 2020 merged into a COVID 19 lockdown-breaking series of socially distancing walks by the Cow Gap area and which abruptly ended at the trash pile. The walks resumed with large bundles of removable plastics on WarmNorm's shoulders or back, in his hands or dragged behind him on makeshift sleds up and over the downs to the nearest bins at the kiosk at the end (or beginning?) of the South Downs Way. Considerable effort and determinationa to trek this distatance laden down with the haul. 

Throughout this period, several kind and helpful people either took bin bags of foam and plastic bottles away with them as they left Cow Gap, or brought fresh gatherings to the sorting arena, or expressed their thanks and thoughts on the relevant subjects, or took photographs and memories away with them to share, or told of their love of the area and its magical qualities beyond Cow Gap, away towards Beachy Head lighthouse and beyond... places WarmNorm had never been as his exploring range was now limited and curtailed by this mission to remove the plastic from this place... people passed and smiled, or nodded, or stopped to talk, or ignored and avoided the bearded scruff who beavered away at his mound in every favourable moment in the luckily pleasant and benign conditions of warming sun and cooling sea breezes and winds and shifting cloud patterns as he sang humbled Brian Eno songs to himself and was grateful for this new task that pressed so many of his vast bank of buttons whilst meeting new people and their dogs and making friends slowly, in a place where he knew no one....this was fate and chance operating at a higher level, things were clicking and clunking into place like the delicate flowerings of spring and pianos (or cars) driving over cliffs... magic, in WarmNorm's mind, was happening! 

It was around this time in late march that WarmNorm became aware of a guy who was an unsung legend of Eastbourne pickers of litter and all things man made and synthetic that did not belong on the beach or coast... a few of the friendly folk who had chatted to WarmNorm, unperturbed by his unkept appearance or his controlled but frantic removal efforts, had mentioned this mysterious but diminutive figure who had litter-picked the coast for years, a green council supplied waste bag in one hand, a litter picking device in the other...up and down along the magnificent coast, and it could, in fact, be he, him that and been mainly responsible for the cleanliness of this stretch of coast and for the accumulation at Cow Gap... WarmNorm was closing in on his prey... also, at this time, on the occasions he crunched and traversed the wild beach route to the mound, WarmNorm had struck up a few passing conversations with fellow lockdown escapees and coast loving sun worshippers... one of whom was, by chance, this fellow...this fellow lover of rubbish but in a different way... someone who was already, but yet unknown, the original Honorary Founding Member of BHASSEXPLORE... aka, The Other Bloke, aka, the Naked Litter Picker, aka Adrian... a dedicated sun bather and naturist, whom, it was guaranteed, would be prostrate on the shingle somewhere south of Holywell if there was even a glimmer of sun in the sky and the wind was below 30 knots...quite often the case in Britain's sunniest town... so, Adrian became a passing feature of my journey along the coast and by a happy coincidence was reasonably interesting to have a five minute conversation with about various things coastal; knew a few other passing characters, and most importantly, was the legendary almost mythical naked litter-picker! 

Once these facts had been established, WarmNorm bypassed several English traditions and niceties and informed Adrian in no uncertain terms his intentions to clear Cow Gap of the rubbish pile once and for all before the next big storm threatened to redistribute much of his work back all over the coast, and he was swiftly rewarded with a stifled chuckle and a muttered 'good luck with that' as Adrian returned to his rudely disturbed  by shingle crunchings and wild over bold statements by this outlandish, slightly disorientating interloper, sun induced slumberings.

WarmNorm realised then that this bloke thought he had seen and heard it all before, and whilst acknowledging that The Other Bloke had seen and heard a lot... WarmNorm knew he hadn't  encountered this particular brand of environmentalist before...

On with the task at hand - WarmNorm continued, day upon day turned into week one and week two, mysterious sightings and reports surfaced of a bearded person seen transporting rubbish across the downs from the coast...a sweaty and disheveled character who was combobulatingly friendly to any one or any creature that crossed his path as he toiled with ungainly loads of plastic crap about his body. The bins at the kiosk were often swamped or surrounded by bundle of cleverly wrapped debris. The pile at Cow Gap was shrinking by the day and the local papers and social media networks were awash with photographs and reported sightings of ' a man known as Norm' and his peculiar habits concerning  beach junk...

Things were moving on abounds now... the local council was regularly finding, and removing large parcels of plastics from a bin at the foot of the downs, sometimes two or even three a day! More people were helping or encouraging 'Norm'. Norm was getting bolder and fitter and quite precocious in his behaviours... This was achievable and would be accomplished despite the arduousness of the task....great satisfaction and pleasure was lifting WarmNorm along and fatigue was banished until he got home around seven most days to observe the channel four news, eat and sleep...

The naked litter picker saw the lack of stuff at his pile and heard the reports of this ab 'Norm' al behaviour...could this the same Norm who'd disturbed his peace with wild claims weeks earlier? Surely not, but hey, yeah, just in case, he started giving WarmNorm daily handouts of green waste bags as he passed on the beach and renewed his own efforts on duller days to litter pick...sometimes even fully clothed! No one was gonna steal his plastics removals crown nor wear his non emperor's non clothes,  and yet, what's this, WarmNorm is now in front of him, smiling, telling him that he is not only The Other Bloke and the Naked Litter Picker  but also, and rather grandly, more importantly the Honorary Founding Member of an organisation, a collective, a cooperative yet to even be founded or even named!!!... to be continued... at a later date...

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