I’ve mentioned before that I head to the paper shop early each morning and I pass by a whole area of boarding houses most of them with punny Shakespearean names. Hamlet House is just one of the more imaginative examples. Anyway I’m quite a Nosey Parker and I can’t help looking in the windows to study how the Stratford upon Avon landlady styles her rooms compared with her Blackpool equivalent. It’s quite illuminating (see what I did there?)
Well our daughter Becksy is staying a few days with us, which is lovely. She’s a big music fan and she was delighted that our daughter Ems set up Spotify on her mobile phone/Bose speaker yesterday after our belated Xmas dinner. We’ve heard quite a lot of Westlife booming out from her bedroom since. But we don’t mind. It takes us back to when the girls were all young and blasting out 3 different lots of music from their rooms. Happy days eh.
Ok I mentioned my home town of Blackpool in the last posting. Actually it wasn’t really, I was brought up in leafy Poulton-le-Fylde about 3 miles inland from the seaside town, but nobody’s ever heard of it. It’s a very neat, historic and affluent little town and about as different from Blackpool as you can get and the bulk of my family still live there. But Blackpool was always the shorthand for my home town. And I kind of liked the place when we were growing up. It was the place to work and make money with its iconic Tower and its permanent circus nestled in its foundations (with its unique finale – a ring filled with seawater for a waterscape spectacular). It had 3 great piers and 3 railway stations, dozens of theatres where all the top stars performed each summer. I remember the Beatles performing at the ABC and Hendrix and Pink Floyd at the Winter gardens. It had a football club whose history and ownership you could be proud of (instead of the degenerates who ran the club recently). 7 miles of golden sands (bar a few sewage outlets), the best promenade in the UK with its wonderful tram system and the best free show on earth, the Blackpool Illuminations. Then there were the award-winning parks and a fine zoo, the brilliant Pleasure beach with its thundering wood-built roller coasters. Dozens of great bars and clubs and probably the most adventurous gay scene that a repressed Britain dared to offer in the late 60’s. It was definitely a fun town, tawdry yes but built for a good time. And more than 10m visitors a year flocked to it.
Well my last two postings have been a tad reflective and this one’s a bit nostalgic too, but in an upbeat way. I was explaining to Carol why I prefer mini-sized pork pies and to eat them warmed rather than cold. You can see I’m a man of sophisticated tastes. The reason is that when we were kids my mum or nan would take us shopping into town (Blackpool) and we’d queue up like dozens of others to buy some pork pies from the butcher’s called Priestley and Berry’s (later JH Berry & Sons). The pies were all made on site and the real knack was to time it to co-incide with a new batch coming straight from the ovens when they were still hot and at their freshest. Continue reading
So the area of the country where I was raised in the NW corner of the UK between the rivers Ribble and the Lune with the river Wyre bisecting the land, is in the news today. It’s the area known as the Fylde and my home town is Poulton-le-Fylde sitting slap bang in the middle of this flat agricultural area. It’s a Doomsday Book-referenced village meaning, I believe, the town by the pool (river) in the field. We ended up with a lovely Norman-based name but it could have been something mundanely Anglo-Saxon like Wyrhampton, which sounds like the place where Sam Allardyce spent his youth. Continue reading
Now you know you’re getting old when your children hit middle age, right? Well tomorrow we’re having a party for our lovely, beautiful, eldest daughter Rebecca who had her 40th birthday earlier this week. It’s a cliche but it really does seem like yesterday when we were waiting to take her home from the hospital after her birth. Where do the years go eh? I’ll stop with the well-worn phrases now.
Well this past week saw yet another travelog programme hit our screens hosted by a ‘between commitments’ comedian/comic actor. Sigh. This time it’s Rory Bremner doing a trip round some of Britain’s most interesting locations in an old-style open top sports car (kindly sponsored by the Morgan motor company) in search of Britain’s best views. They even featured a programme from Blackpool the other day and settled on two stunning views; one looking down on the piers taken from the top of the Tower and, yes you’ve guessed it, one from the end of the pier looking up at the Tower. It’s my home town but even I could hear the distant sound of a barrel’s bottom being scraped.
Remember this image because it’s absolutely perfect for this piece. It’s about my nan, affectionately known as Nelly, who was indisputably the kindest, warmest, most decent person I’ve ever known and I loved her utterly. She’s no longer with us of course – she died just before Carol and I got married almost 40 years ago. But I think of her often and this evening I had a fond smile at her memory sparked by a clip from tonight’s TV. Continue reading