Look At It This Way - February 22, 2013

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Blackpool. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it.

For sure I get sick of the potholes on the Prom, the fact that I all but know the registration plates of some of the contractors’ vehicles parked there, find myself checking for fresh cracks in the crazy paving.

I get tired of the town being in a semi-permanent state of Taking So Long To Build Something I Forget What It’s Going To Be When They Finally Start.

Or threatening to Knock Something Down Quickly So We Forget What It Was.

Then there are fantastic buildings of breathtaking architectural merit languishing on the market - the magnificent former Orthodox Synagogue now up for sale again and some of our once much loved community libraries now looking increasingly neglected.

But I’m decidedly put out by the notion of a Tesco Express occupying the prime town centre site vacated by the original Yates’ Wine Lodge.

A Tesco? Express? Is this really as good as it gets for the beating heart of Blackpool? I’m not knocking Tesco but is this the scale of our ambitions for one of the best sites in Blackpool?

A shop on the spot where Oscar Wilde once stood and left declaiming Blackpudlians for failing to appreciate the finer merits of his lecture on design? Mind you, history may have proved him right.

Wouldn’t we have been better off putting a public park there - albeit with the risk of drunks and vagrants kipping on benches or urinating in the greenery?

It might have been a handy spot to site the long awaited Charlie Cairoli Senior statue or even a small memorial to the animals (bar one miracle canary?) lost to the blaze in the pet shop that once stood here, along with the wine lodge, some rather posh shops, and what was once the splendid Tivoli Cinema.

So that’s the rant over. But here’s the rub, the nub of why Blackpool polarises opinions, particularly for those who live locally... for sometimes we get it spectacularly right. You just need to take a step back to see that clearly.

Take Showzam! And take it from me, many other towns and cities would love to take Showzam!

There are times when it’s all a bit too Emperor’s New Clothes for me but by and large it’s bedlam on a glorious and distinctly Blackpool scale of eccentricity and surreality.

And there’s nothing quite like it anywhere else in the country. When other seaside resorts are snoozing through the half term holidays we’ve got nuns on the run on mobile motorised organs, sideshows, talks, tours, circus, performances and more.

And all year it’s that mix of magic, music and mayhem, pigeons and George Formby and Elvis impersonators, slot car racers and tramoraks which makes my heart sing - even as it sinks to see the latest dip in Shared Space...