Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Back to Blackpool

I've been to Blackpool a few times now. It's not the kind of place I'd normally choose as a holiday destination, but actually I rather like its tacky cheerfulness.

Last night Emily and Gareth took me there to see Amy Winehouse. When I first heard her single Back to Black, from the album of the same name, I loved it and thought it sounds like a classic, a song that's been around for ever: she has one of those voices that is somehow full of aeons of experience.

Of course, much recently publicity has been about how she's a Very Bad Girl, with a "car-crash lifestyle" - - this is tabloid-speak for "does a lot of drugs and booze". Her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil is currently in jail. At her recent Birmingham concert she was drunk and the fans booed.

Last night, arriving at the venue, which was the Empress Ballroom, part of Blackpool's Winter Gardens, I realised with horror what I should have worked out before: there are no seats in this venue.

Now, to cut a long story short, I had a very bad DVT (blood clot) in my leg in 1984 and the result is that, although I can walk for miles, I can't stand still for very long at all without getting terrible cramp.

The Empress Ballroom, which epitomises the phrase "faded grandeur", was crowded and hot and I just couldn't bear it so I thought I'd go for a walk and just come back to see part of Amy's set - I could see no alternative.

Off I went into the drizzle of a near-deserted Blackpool and of course I was heading for the sea, because I love any sea. It was pitch dark: the tide was completely in: the sea was calm and small waves lapped underneath the North Pier. A speaker nearby played ferociously jolly seaside-type music and the hanging fairy lights only emphasised the darkness and Novemberness.

I felt much better, and after wandering up and down the front, seeing hardly anyone, from eight o'clock until ten, I walked back to the Winter Gardens and went in to find everyone wandering round buying drinks. I assumed it was the interval, but no! Amy had not yet been on stage, so I was just in time.

I sat on the stairs on the way into the ballroom and from there could see Amy and her band pretty well, through the grill covering the bar. A huge bouncer lumbered over to me.

"Oy, lady, would you like to move off them stairs?"

Having found the only place in the whole room where I could both sit down and see, there was no way that I was going to move. I decided to take his question as a question, rather than as a command.

"Having thought about it, no, I wouldn't like to move, thank you," I replied politely.

He gave me a confused stare and bothered me no further. I stayed put.

Amy apologised for her lateness and was drunk enough not to be able to speak totally coherently. "This is the first song I wrote - I think it's the last song I finished - I should just stop keeping speaking my thoughts as I think of them --"

And then she sang, with that effortless, troubled voice. She is, as my friend Sonia said the other day, the "real deal". She can sing like that because it's how she is.

I thought she seemed very vulnerable, not just the Very Naughty Girl that the press have painted her, and I wanted to take her home and give her hot chocolate and biscuits.

I hope she'll sort herself out soon. If she does, though, I suspect it won't help her singing. If "placid people paint pale pictures" then I prefer Van Gogh.

If she doesn't manage it, we won't hear much more of her: she'll be too unreliable for the money-men to take a chance on. Or she'll be dead.


Blogger MrsG said...

I was lucky enough to see her at Glastonbury and DAMN that girl can sing! She was incoherant when she spoke between sets but the singing was flawless. Her backup singers and the band were awesome - necessary, I suppose, if they are going to be expected to carry the show when she disappears into the backstage ether... I really did enjoy her show, and I would pay to see her again...

10:10 am  
Blogger Daphne said...

Yes, that's exactly how she was in Blackpool - as soon as she sings she's amazing, and the band were too. I so hope she sorts her life out.

10:49 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post! It's so long since I've been to Blackpool. Your description of the faded grandeur certainly brings it back.

Glad you got your way with the bouncer! Sounds like a good evening out.

11:55 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Thank you, Siegfried.
To get me to move the bouncer would have had to pick me up, and I think we both knew that.
There are only a few advantages to being an Older Woman but being able to give bouncers the look that their mothers gave them is one of these advantages.

12:02 am  
Blogger Silverback said...

I think it's fantastic that you get out at your age. And with such a late curfew too. Not too loud for you, was it dear ??

How thoughtful of Amy to wait till you'd pottered around Blackpool for a while. She's a sweetie.

Oh and if she doesn't take up the offer, can I bag the hot chocolate and biscuits ? Jaffa cakes of course.


2:15 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

It was tricky to read your comment, Ian, what with the print being a bit small for my ancient eyes, but I finally managed it.
Celine Dion scoffed all the Jaffa cakes when she popped round last week. But I expect I'll be getting some more in.

4:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talking of faded grandeur, have you ever been to Morecambe....? Let's just say I went to university in that neck of the woods (in a small but pretty city, on the top of a hill, I should add - I have very fond memories actually), but Wednesday nights were 'Carlton Night' at this club in Morecambe. I don't want to be too rude in case there are readers from there, but it was like entering a time warp. And going to a local pub before the club was an absolute no-no. Was straight out of League of Gentlemen.

11:54 am  

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