I needed a day out at the weekend and was strangely drawn to Blackpool.
Blackpool is culture shock- staggeringly and comprehensively ugly. The definition of seedy. Massively poor.
Ten thousand clapped out B and Bs under the sky. Every now and again people try and re-frame the place through ‘iconic’ regenerative gestures (Blackpool is immune to the healing sedative powers of these post-modern glitter balls). Or they try and say it’s Britain’s answer to Las Vegas. It isn’t. It’s Blackpool. The end of the line for the drifter and the lost cause. One gigantic estate pub. The fun never stops.
Plus whenever I usually go it’s blowing a force nine off the North Sea and the rain is hitting you horizontally.
One day somebody is going to get this place right – and write something really good. Best I know of so far is Blackpool High Flyer. Spookily evocative of Edwardian Blackpool (and Halifax) – let down by a crimetime plot that has no traction. And for the Fifties and Sixties there’s the Foxline series on the town and its railways.
First I took to the back streets – couldn’t take the main drags to the sea front. Bergman thought that the coast in strong summer sunlight was the best atmosphere for portraying despair – and I think about that some times when I have a very powerful urge to flee from crowded seaside streets.
And the place was giving me the creeps – kept thinking of this article i’d read about just how seedy Blackpool can get.
The inner suburbs were much quieter, more comfortable – kinda fugue’d out – lost. Trying to zero in on Bloomfield Road.
Watched Blackpool draw 1-1 with Coventry for the absurd entrance fee of £28. What a joke! Strange ground – two sides with stands the rest with nothing but a good atmosphere. Won £50 on a rare bet – I had a very strong hunch that Newcastle would lose to Blackburn 2-1 and they did!
Walked on the big empty beach.
Even Blackpool looked good today at the end of the Indian Summer – warm but with the sharpness of Autumn light – the best light.
Watched the strange procession of trams rumbling down the front at walking pace. That isn’t a fleet – it’s a veteran’s parade of individual patch and mends. Like the much loved contents of an old toy box. Depot is something else – like something you might find in provincial India.
Even found some half decent pubs near Blackpool North.
The second one was nearly empty – good beer and some great soul music. Then this statuesque drag queen enters to do a Karaoke set for a birthday party that hasn’t showed up yet – and may never show up. Old man sups his half in the corner.
It was a good day.