The Duke - August 13, 2014

Rachel Riley
Rachel Riley
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Some of the joys of no longer being employed full time (I still can’t bring myself to say retired) include:

1. Staying in bed that little bit longer in a morning.

2. Staying up that little bit later at night.

3. Putting things off until tomorrow because they really don’t have to be done today.

4. More time to get to the gym before I’m too tired to do anything once I get there.

Thankfully the list does not (yet) include:

1. Staring wistfully out of the front room window convincing myself every passer-by has somewhere more important to be than me.

2. Wondering which slippers go best with whatever jeans I decide to wear (just for the record I last wore slippers when I was 12!).

3. Debating whether to start smoking a pipe as this is clearly the image some people have of those of us lucky enough to be retired.

So I was delighted to read that we over 50s (OK, OK, it includes the over 60s) are now dubbed the “Superboomers.”

If you missed the report published, presumably in easy to read large type, by research consultants The Future Laboratory, it reckons we Superboomers are carefree, cash rich and keen to hang on to our youthful vigour.

True or false we supposedly climbed the career ladder when the economy was booming and despite the onset of wrinkles we are keener to spend our well-earned dosh on beauty products, luxury travel and culture – not to mention rather more subtle drinks than vodka and Red Bull or Jägermeister – than our more cash strapped younger chums and relatives.

Fifty shades of grey hair is now a sign of a “hip, defiant, pro-age” attitude rather than a curse; eight out of 10 of us have internet access (and some of us actually know how to use it) and two thirds of us are online shoppers – though we are a little more cautious about how we 
approach websites and 
social networking.

This could all help to explain why despite having some more time on my hands hasn’t meant wasting it watching Jeremy Kyle or Flog It during daylight hours.

But I do have a guilty TV pleasure. I’ve discovered the delights of Countdown – a programme I never watched until the day job went west but can now catch a few minutes of while getting changed at the gym (statistics say the mid-60s go to the gym more often than anyone else and 20 times a year more than teenagers).

Obviously I’d heard of Countdown but imagine my surprise when what I thought would be a slightly crusty programme inhabited by various clever clogs slowly hooked me in.

Surely it had gone beyond its sell-by-date long before hostess Carol Vorderman left after more than 5,000 appearances and jolly Jeff Stelling reverted to Sky Sports after a mere 666 (an ominous number?) editions.

It’s here that I have a confession to make. I’m not so much a Countdown fan as a Rachel Riley one.

This is partly because there’s very rarely any sound on in the gym changing room so I’ve very little idea what’s going on other than the delightful Rachel plucks vowels and consonants seemingly out of nowhere before a couple of oiks try and please her by making up long words from them.

I’ve always had this thing about glam female assistants since interviewing Katy Manning in her Doctor Who days (that would be 1971 to 1973 for all you Whovians).

Obviously a silent Countdown in a gents’ changing room has its downside. For starters I’m too embarrassed to actually get changed whilst Rachel is on, so have to wait until the programme is over. And then there’s the fact I’m rarely on my own with her – but I am the only one who thought I was alone in being attracted to her.

No, I’d missed all the tabloid tales of “Racy Rachel,” her ill-fated and brief marriage to Jamie Gilbert, the “curse” of Strictly Come Dancing romantically linking her with Pasha Kovalev (who is he for goodness sake?) and I’d no idea how many column centimetres have been spent analysing her figure-revealing wardrobe of clothes.

I guess as a Superboomer I’d better pick on someone my own age. Where’s Katy Manning these days?

A sad farewell to Tower Lounge

It would be remiss of me not to raise a glass in memory of the much maligned Tower Lounge.

After years of indecision about its future, operators Merlin have finally confirmed that what is arguably Blackpool’s busiest town centre bar will finally be closing its doors in November – to re-emerge at some future date as a family friendly venue.

Under previous ownership (it’s now part of the council’s property portfolio) it has tried the family approach before. The result was a licensed crèche populated by push chairs, howling kids, pint pots, baby food and mediocre entertainment.

On the basis of silk purses and sows’ ears it soon returned to being what it’s good as – a big room full of vertical boozers (not everyone wants to sit down in a pub, especially if you are watching football on big screens or live entertainment on small stages).

Like the much missed Yates’s in Talbot Square and the long lost Jenks Bar, the Tower Lounge is an instantly identifiable meeting place.

Granted it’s often easier to gain access if you are dressed as Superman, Wonder Woman or a sumo wrestler but “meet at The Tower” regularly criss-crosses the country on texts and social media as party people insist on ignoring the stigma attached to them and still head to Blackpool.

So farewell to Michael McIntyre warm-up gigs, goodbye to the likes of John Cooper Clarke visits and never again will we see it host rock music competitions such as the one The Gazette successfully ran there for several years,

Whatever the future holds for the place can I just ask this: Save its superb engraved mirrors as part of Blackpool’s heritage – or at least send 
me one!