To boldly go... on a holiday

Neil armstrong and his crew get ready for a week in whitby.
Neil armstrong and his crew get ready for a week in whitby.

I’M not sure where to go on holiday in 2020. It’s either the Moon or Mars, I just can’t decide which.

I guess I’ll have to wait for a brochure from The Golden Spike Company, set up by a group of former NASA engineers, and promising tourists trips to space by the end of the decade.

Rescue services attempt to search for a man who fell into the sea near South Pier.

Rescue services attempt to search for a man who fell into the sea near South Pier.

I’m assuming you’ve seen this story? There has long been talk of taking ordinary folk to space – a space vacation if you like – but this is the first time a company has been set up with real intentions to do it.

Thank goodness for that I say because in all honesty I was getting bored of Skegness.

The only downside of the Golden Spike Company (whose board of directors, wonderfully, includes a set designer from Star Trek) is its trips are a tad on the pricey side.

The estimated cost for a two-person lunar surface mission starts at $1.4bn, which means if you want to take the missus it’s going to take a real chunk out of your cash ISA.

But still, on the off-chance I win Euromillions, or The Gazette gives a higher than expected wage rise next year, at least it gives us all another option when it comes to choosing where to spend our annual summer break.

That wasn’t the case when I was young. Times were tough and the Canavan family holidays were cheap and cheerful, so cheap and cheerful a trip to Spain was as fanciful as a fortnight in space.

Every single holiday I had up to the age of 16 was spent in the UK, and chosen by my grandmother.

She used to rip adverts from the local paper and hand them to my dad, whispering ‘this was in Tuesday’s, looks lovely – caravan in Whitby, 29 pound for the week’.

My dad, being the thrifty type (a lifelong Manchester City fan he started supporting Bury when it came to taking me to matches because it was a tenner cheaper), always booked without hesitation.

There was no internet in those days so you couldn’t check where you were going or nip on Trip Advisor to read reviews.

Inevitably we’d arrive at a field in the middle of nowhere and discover a caravan with a bucket for a toilet and a hole in the roof. Then it would start raining.

My mum sulked, my parents had a row, and so the week went on. Happy days.

That said, the one occasion we did finally decide to take a chance and go to France (1992 – a heady year), our ancient Morris Ital motor car broke down at the very moment we were meant to disembark the ferry. Our car was right at the front of the boat, blocking the entire load of vehicles on board. We had 20 or so French ferry workers screaming at us in a language we didn’t understand (though we had a sixth-sense they weren’t happy) and a line of cars and lorries behind us beeping their horns and flashing their lights.

For the first time in my entire life, my mum – head in hands – weepily uttered the words ‘wish we’d booked a caravan in Whitby’.

>> I do believe that, in the midst of all the new year celebrations and fireworks, I may well have stumbled upon the single most boring fact about 2013.

Namely that – and hold on to your hats here – it is the first year since 1987 to have different numbers for all its digits.

So, for those among you who, like I, had to spend several moments figuring out what that meant, 1988 had two eights, 2010 two noughts, and so on. Fascinating hey?

First time since ‘87. Truly fascinating...

We should never forget our tragic officers’ bravery

How tragic 2012 began in the bleakest of fashion, with the Blackpool seas claiming yet another life, just minutes into the new year.

You’ve seen the story by now. A man, aged 41, swept into the sea near South Pier as he walked his dog. A friend also plunged into the icy-cold water but managed, mercifully, to clamber out.

The 41-year-old wasn’t so lucky, becoming the 23rd person to believed to have drowned in the last three decades on a coastline where the Irish Sea hits with frightening force.

This latest tragedy is especially poignant given it comes in the week of the 30th anniversary of one of the most sickening day’s in the town’s history.

On January 5, 1983, three police officers perished in the sea near Gynn Square, as well as a holidaymaker from Glasgow they had been attempting to rescue.

I recently did an article for this paper on that terrible day and spoke to many of the individuals involved, fellow police officers who witnessed what had happened.

What struck me was how the tragedy still haunts them. Each of them told me that a day rarely passes when they don’t think of what happened and the colleagues and friends they lost.

There is a short service at Gynn Square on Saturday at 1pm to mark the anniversary of the death of the police officers.

It would be lovely to see as many people as possible there – given that three officers courageously and selflessly gave their lives to try and save one of us, a member of the public, it is surely the least we can do.

Wish me luck (or break a leg)

After a decade as this paper’s football writer (though some might quibble with that term; after all I preferred to talk about the merits of the pies on sale than the actual footie) and six months as a news reporter (my boss would definitely quibble with that term; Eating Toast and Drinking Coffee Correspondent might have been more accurate), I am now embarking on a new role – Showbiz Tsar.

Well, that’s the title I wanted but the editor has insisted on something a little more drab – Entertainment Writer.

The aim is to bring you, the good people of the 
Fylde coast, the latest about what’s happening throughout the town.

If there’s a world-famous band playing the Winter Gardens, I’ll be there to tell you what happened. If there’s a major award-winning play at the Grand Theatre, I’ll be there to review it. If a local amateur dramatic group stages a four-hour musical in a church hall, I’ll 
send my able deputy...

I jest, of course, I’ll be out and about as much as possible, sampling all the entertainment Blackpool has to offer, from am dram to the big productions, and I feel proud to be doing it in a town which, no matter what the doom-mongers may say, still has a special place in the nation’s entertainment heart (as Gary Barlow’s appearance at the Opera House tomorrow proves).

I will, though, have to go some to even get close to being as successful as my predecessor, Robin Duke, who bowed out this week after 39 years on the paper.

The Duke, as we call him, was an institution at The Gazette, a legendary figure, and will be sorely missed by us all. Best of luck to him for the future and best of luck to me too – I’ll need it, his are big boots to fill.