The staff performed welcoming and efficient routines to an intriguingly non-confrontational soundtrack in Damien Hirst's cafe. One of the spot paintings ogled me from the opposite wall, bravely ignoring the butterfly wallpaper behind it, and echoing the thin cabinet of small fish in perspex coffins next to the entrance. A popular song minced from the speakers, in which an optimistic boy sings about a new pair of shoes, followed by several hundred thousand other songs of similar shapes and colours. There were no other customers. It was obvious: this playlist was an unannounced piece of never-stopping art, repelling locals and tourists alike, more baffling and visceral than any number of formaldehyded animals, and disappointingly audacious in its resemblance, like the spot painting, to a machine-generated array of squibs. I wrote that sentence across three packets of white sugar and used it to pay for another coffee. The barista smiled at me through her completely transparent motorbike helmet and said you're right, it's called The Joy of Not Giving A Shit.
I'd come to Ilfracombe to see the statue of the pregnant woman you could see the insides of, standing on some law books and thrusting a sword in the air. Later, in the very good chippy, the chip man described his first encounter with the statue. It was lying down, having a rest next to some concerned people, who said they were such big fans of Jesus that they found it nigh-on impossible to approve of anything that wasn't Jesus. And this statue wasn't Jesus at all, not even lying down, not even slightly, and how could he stand here not disapproving of it.
He boxed and bagged the fish and chips and said it's nice to have something to look at.