Now there can’t be many readers who don’t know that I was brought up in Blackpool. It never was a pretty place but it was always lively with a strong sense of purpose but whenever I go back now it seems seedier and more run down and perhaps unsure of its role these days. The current chaos at the football club just seems like a metaphor for everything that’s sad and troubling about the town. But I remain interested in the place – after all my father, brothers, sister and their families all live nearby. So news items which might affect them catch my attention.
Foe example I’ve been following the fracking debate with a keen eye as it’s very much a live issue in the area and could impact on house values (and even house stability!) and all sorts of things. Recently there’s been a major health issue with some sort of bad bacteria having got into the water system. So for the last 6/7 weeks my folks have been having to boil water before consuming it or using it for washing foodstuffs, wiping down surfaces etc. It sounds like a 3rd world condition doesn’t it and must have been a nightmare.
However one story caught my eye this week and that was the switching on of the illuminations. Now this is a big thing in the town because unlike most other seaside resorts whose season is now effectively over, the ‘lights’ as they are called locally continue to act as a major tourist attraction, extending the season deep into November. Clever stuff. The switching on ceremony is always done by some sleb stars of stage or little screen. I think Shergar did it one year too but since then the poor thing has just disappeared from the scene.
Anyway this year it seems they went for someone a bit different to pull the lever. Have a guess who. Think movies. No not Sandra Bullock nor Tom Cruise. But somebody probably even more unlikely. Give up? Try Tim Burton. Yes Tim frigging Burton the award winning film director, producer, artist, writer, and animator behind some of Tinseltown’s more intriguing movies such as Batman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland and many many more. He married the quite delightfully bonkers Helena Bonham-Carter and whilst they are now separated they still share the same house in Hampstead. So deliciously bohemian. I saw a fascinating exhibition dedicated to his surreal animation artistry at MOMA in New York a few years ago.
So he’s a natural choice to switch on the lights in Blackpool don’t you think? Slightly incongruous? Yep I didn’t get it either. It’s about as natural as seeing Angela Merkel host BBC’s coverage of Crufts.
But then I discovered he’s recently filmed scenes from his yet to be released film, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, in Blackpool, scheduled for release early next year. Ahh. So shameless promotion then. I’m a marketing man and shouldn’t be surprised by such spoofing but this just insults my intelligence for some reason. Tim Burton and Blackpool. Umm. It’s not an obvious coupling is it? The good burghers of Blackpool will be trying to convince me that he’s fascinated by the town. Yeh like somebody looking at a cadaver for the first time. When he buys a house on North Park Drive and decides to finally leave Helena and move in, then I’ll swallow my cynicism along with my hat and walk all the way up the M40, M6 and M55 in my clogs to personally welcome Tim to t’north and invite Burto to kiss me quickly.
It’s about as likely as Helena winning the best dressed woman of the year award….