Monday, January 17, 2011

Off to the Wild West

Yes, I'm off to the Wild West tomorrow. Blackpool. And Lytham St Anne's.

I've been to St Anne's-on-Sea only once, years ago. There was no sea. The tide there goes so far out that it's hard to believe there's any sea at all.

Because it was SEA that we were after, rather than just mile after mile of sand, we upped sticks (and deckchairs and windbreaks and thermos flasks and sandy ham sandwiches and such) and headed for Blackpool.

I don't remember much else - I was VERY small - except we were with my friend Jo and her parents and they bought her a teddy bear and I was envious. I have no memory of her sister Deb being there - or even existing - and since Deb was born when I was four, this could well be the case.

I've been back to Blackpool a few times since. I've been up the Tower several times, and enjoyed the view from the top, right along the beach, and also trying to walk across the square of transparent floor with a view right down to the ground below.

Blackpool's full of hen nights and stag nights and cheap toys and cheap hotels and amusement arcades. It's trashy but quite interesting to marvel at. Last time I was there it was a November night and Olli and Gareth had taken me to see Amy Winehouse. She was so late coming on stage that I fled the place for an hour until she finally turned up. In the meantime I walked along the front, in the dark, on my own, just listening to the sea swishing on the beach. I loved it.

But there's something about Blackpool that fills me with a deep, deep sadness and I'm not sure what it is. Loss of childhood, perhaps: loss of innocence. And I prefer my seasides much wilder - - in a different and far more natural way. Not the stag-night kind of wildness.

Sadly, I won't have much time in either Lytham St Anne's or in Blackpool. I'm working in Leeds tomorrow afternoon and then will set off to Blackpool, where I'm staying, just as it's getting dark.

On Wednesday morning I have to be in Lytham St Anne's by half-past eight to work with some young doctors, and then straight afterwards I'll have to set off to start in Blackpool at two, to work with some medical students. By the time I set off back to Leeds on Wednesday, it will be nearly dark again.

Even though I'm sure I'll enjoy the work, it's a shame, because I've heard that the old part of Lytham is interesting and I must say it looks it - rather quaint and old-fashioned.

This visit I think I'll have to make do with the smell of sea air and perhaps a quick glimpse of the sea. I'm not sure I can bear it. I feel a return trip coming on.

8 Comments:

Blogger Jennyta said...

Well, you certainly get around, Daphne! :)

8:11 pm  
Anonymous Milo said...

"But there's something about Blackpool that fills me with a deep, deep sadness and I'm not sure what it is."

Oh I agree with that 10 fold. There is something about some of those old faraway seaside towns that is soul-destroyingly depressing. And if you think Blackpool is bad - try Morecambe.

As a southerner attending university in the north - I didn't think places like that existed, I really didn't. I'm from Kent and we have our fair share of fairly crappy, down-at-heel old seaside towns (Margate, Ramsgate, Isle of Sheppey, etc) - but partially due to their proximity to London and the Continent - they just don't have quite the same air of despair and despondency that places like Morecambe have. One word: frightening.

I would actually be fascinated to go back. It would be awful voyeurism but that place... I remember as a student wandering into what turned out to be a "very very very" local pub. Everyone in the place stopped talking and looked up, staring at us with contempt. You know what they reminded me of? The 'hillbilly' people from the film Deliverance. It was that bad.

8:50 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

We stayed in Lytham once and found it genteel - the obverse of Blackpool's seafront scene but architecturally Lytham is "nowt special" so you're not missing much... I know what you mean about a certain sadness hanging over Blackpool - like a time that's lost - though I would certainly not agree with Milo that "Blackpool is bad" or "crappy". Such terms I would reserve for London.

9:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We lived in Morecambe/Heysham for 10 years, so understand and agree with Milo's opinion of the place; seedy gentility. The local newspaper being called The Visitor says a lot about the place!

10:12 pm  
Blogger WendyCarole said...

Iove Lytham St Ann's when the sea is out all that space
Have never fancied Blackpool though

4:38 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:34 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

What you need is a dose of John Masefield, I think, until you can get to the real thing.

5:37 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Jennyta - yes, I do, and I almost always enjoy it!
Milo - I liked Blackpool far better out of season - a sort of pleasing melancholy hung about it.
YP - I did like Lytham's air of gentility! And I'd love to go back and walk on that seafront.
Anon - yes, I like the irony of the local newspaper.
Bob - I've always loved that poem and I bet this doesn't surprise you!

12:07 am  

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