Look At It This Way - December 20, 2013

Bill Kenwright production of'SCROOGE'with Tommy Steele'directed by Bob Thomson
Bill Kenwright production of'SCROOGE'with Tommy Steele'directed by Bob Thomson
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In the words of the song from Scrooge –Thank You Very Much, Mr Steele.

That’s the nicest thing that anyone’s ever done for me. Well, this week, at least.

I’m not quite old enough to remember when Tommy Steele stormed the charts as Britain’s (alleged) answer to Elvis.

But I’ve written of the era which brought Tommy to town time and again.

All the big names came to Blackpool in the Sixties. What a town the resort must have been back then. How busy by night as well as day.

Tommy broke records at the Opera House in 1960. He virtually packed the same venue on a wet miserable midweek night when I saw him this week. Ends tomorrow. It’s a must see.

He came the year he had a hit with Little White Bull which was one of my favourites – at four years old. Loved Half a Sixpence too.

I saw the Beatles at the ABC as a child – with the emphasis on saw as I never heard a word for all the screaming. One Direction, please take note.

But much as my Shoreditch-born Ma wanted to see and hear the boy from Bermondsey when he came to Blackpool it never actually happened.

This week she finally caught up with him. Fifty three years on. Can you Adam and Eve it?

I’d hoped to bag an interview – one of those journalistic bucket wishes before leaving The Gazette. Like becoming the political editor or reviewing Bob Dylan.

At least I got to War Horse at the Lowry last month. Cost me £111, and I’ve already booked to go back in July. It’s an experience.

Sadly the interview with Tommy did not happen – Steve Canavan our Entertainment Writer is faster on his feet!

Even talking football with the man who brought Tommy to town – impresario Bill Kenwright – didn’t help. But then he’s an Evertonian and I’m a Red. Maybe the derby queered my pitch.

Kenwright’s faith in Blackpool is heartwarming – and this week it paid off with more bottoms on seats in the Opera House than I’ve seen in a long time. Of course, he’s a Blackpool fan, rock and roller at heart, remembers the glory days here.

To be honest, I just wanted to meet Tommy Steele.

But our Steve did him justice and I did the next best thing – went to see him perform.

Took Ma along, moaning about the wind and rain and distance of the Opera House from West Street car park, and the kids running amok in the multi-storey, and why I’d bought her a glass of wine and not a tub of ice cream.

Ho-ho? Ho-hum!

Then the curtain went up and Steele worked his magic. Showbiz salve to the soul. The man’s a legend.

Even without Flash Bang Wallop what a picture, what a photograph, to take away in the mind’s eye at evening’s end.

I spent the interval – after the wine faux pas– chatting to a lovely lad with Downs 
Syndrome there with his 
carer from supported 
living.

“I love Christmas,” he declared, and his eyes shone. Proper theatre doesn’t just transport you, it can transform, transfigure you.

And the message of Scrooge is as true today as it was in Dickens’ day. It’s about love, charity and the triumph of the human spirit.

My mother’s 77, same age as Tommy, both born 1936, London, both enduring the worst part of the bombing of that great capital.

And for all her heart and kidney failure, and dread of dialysis to come she left with a real spring to her step.

As for me? I never felt less like singing the Blues.

Happy Christmas, one and all.

Car park free-for-all a disturbing blight for all

West Street car park is an 
accident waiting to happen.

As a regular visitor to Blackpool at different times of day and night I’ve noticed this multi-storey is becoming a hang out for disaffected teenagers – and younger.

Blackpool is great at offering facilities for a charge but not so good at accommodating large groups of local youngsters with no money but plenty of time on their hands. But a multi-storey car park is not the answer.

They are putting themselves and others at risk. Some run over roofs, others skateboard down ramps and along other features.

By night an older crowd move in, lads with turbo charged cars, all torque and trousers, parking up in disabled spots (as happened Wednesday night) and giving the hard stare to the legitimate blue badge brigade .. before revving up , off and away, and then back, at speed.

Now some older visitors vote with their feet – foot down and off and out in the hope of finding a space elsewhere. One couple arrived late for a show for that reason. Some may even miss out altogether.

I almost did the same – pulling in at 7pm to find the noise so intense it sounded as if I was parking on the Kop.

It’s intimidating. And I don’t intimidate easily. The tribal chants and obscenities upset some older drivers. I tried and failed three times to get through to police.

Later I noticed councillors heading back to their vehicles. Does the sound not filter down to the municipal reserved area?