what do vampires do for their summer holidays? This may not be the
kind of question that normally troubles you; but this was the one
that sprang to mind upon viewing an episode of Buffy the Vampire
Slayer where a vampire was burning up after exposure to the sun.
And being someone who doesn’t like questions to go unanswered
I decided to find out exactly where it was that the undead headed
to with their buckets, spades and SPF 500 sun block.
first problem was where to find vampires and then lure them out
to discuss their holiday plans. My scant knowledge of how to find
and attract vampires comes from Christopher Lee’s Hammer horror
films, where a virginal ivory-white neck combined with a heaving
bosom usually does the trick. But, having neither asset, I had to
resort to buying goth magazines and perusing chat rooms on the Internet
to make contact with the world of bloodsuckers.
managed to speak to a few self-confessed vampires, but none would
arrange to meet me, citing everything from the fact that they only
came out after midnight to claims that they would have to kill and
eat me to avoid a rendezvous. What did become clear from my research,
though, was that there is really just one holiday destination for
the discerning vampire or wannabe vampire and that is Whitby, North
small seaside town is famed as the setting for Bram Stoker’s
Dracula, which he wrote whilst living on its West Cliff, looking
out at the spooky ruins of Whitby Abbey. As a consequence it
also houses a thriving Dracula-based tourist industry and attracts
a regular influx of pasty-faced youth who believe that the book
has its basis in fact, some of whom claim to be genuine vampires.
in a fishing port you expect to be greeted with a good whiff of
cod or haddock, but the scent in the air in Whitby is very much
that of frying chips. Of course this could be a ruse by the local
council to cover the smell of the putrefying flesh of vampires and
their victims, though I suspect that it may have something to do
with the fact that every other building in Whitby is a chip shop.
So with bag of chips in hand I set about my afternoon search for
vampires amongst the tourist hordes, be they turning into fireballs
on the sands or merely skulking in alleys awaiting nightfall.
delightfully tacky Dracula Experience by the beach looked a likely
starting place, so I sauntered in that direction and almost immediately
struck it lucky, or so I thought. Wandering towards me I saw the
distinctive shape of three cloaked Dracula look-a-likes, complete
with slicked-back hair and fangs. But it turned out to be just a
family of three out for the day. Mummy vampire, daddy vampire and
an eleven-year-old vampire with what was clearly fake blood on his
plastic fangs. Odd? Yes. Disturbing? Definitely. But probably not
ruthless killers with a lust for drinking warm, rich blood.
on a tip-off from one of the cyber-vamps I had spoken with, I headed
up Flowergate to The Elsinore pub, but this goth favourite didn’t
give up so much as a crimped hairdo or Marilyn Manson T-shirt. The
pickled eggs on the bar looked frightening, but there were no tall,
dark strangers with fangs and flip-flops. I was beginning to think
that Whitby was a dead loss, rather than a haven for the undead.
A search of other gloomy-looking bars and the east side of town
proved similarly fruitless, though I did manage to snap up a red
fondant-filled chocolate coffin from the sweet shop.
my quest for vampire links I spent the evening on a guided Dracula
walk, where a man in funereal attire pointed out those parts of
the town that feature in Stoker’s novel. He was good at what
he did, though did have a tendency to spout mysterious babble from
time-to-time, taking a disliking to me when I asked him what he
was on about.
the obvious historical attraction of the tour for any holidaying
vampire, I didn’t manage to spot any fiery red eyes amongst
our party as we ambled into town. True, the musty-smelling woman
with the salon-fresh pink rinse could have been an incognito vampire,
but it seemed unlikely.
my time in Whitby running out I decided that I would have to think
like a holidaying vampire were I to get a chance to see one. I figured
that there was only one place that any self-respecting vampire would
be as the witching hour arrived, and that was the Abbey ruins at
the top of the famous 199 stone steps that feature in Dracula. So
I retired to a pub by the river for some Dutch courage and gazed
out across the water to pass time until midnight.
midnight approached I walked across the market square and up to
the first step. I strode purposefully upwards, slowing down as my
calf muscles began to ache, and hitting the very last step as the
town clock struck twelve. I rushed through the graveyard expecting
to spot vampires, or at least a courting couple with a taste for
the macabre, but nothing stirred.
Disconsolate, I descended the steps, spying a hunched figure below
as I reached the halfway point. My heart beat faster. It couldn’t
be, could it? Dark clothes and dark hair. Was that a cape or just
a trick of the light?
Drawing closer, I could make out a woman. She was wearing a T-shirt
bearing the legend ‘naughty’. I assumed this was not
a look that The Count would go for under any circumstances, even
if he were a master of illusion and disguise. So with my safety
assured I carried on down.
woman was in her thirties with black hair and heavy eye makeup and
had obviously spent the evening in one of Whitby’s many pubs.
you see anything?” she slurred, pointing up the cliff.
like Dracula?” I asked.
Dracula,” she gushed. “I mean, there has to be something
better than this, doesn’t there?”
better than Whitby?’ I asked. “I think it’s quite
nice, apart from the smell.”
I mean life. Better than life. There has to be something better.”
then her friends came around the corner and I realised why she might
be of that opinion. They were two extremely drunken men, both dressed
said one pirate. “We gotta get back.”
want to go up there,” she said, pointing upwards again, but
her date with Dracula was not to be. The pirates grabbed a shoulder
each and guided her away from the steps and back towards her bed,
where she could safely dream of vampires, without the risk of falling
backwards down a very steep stone staircase.
my head down I slowly wandered back towards my own bed, tossing
my garlic and driftwood stake into the river as I crossed the swing