In the words of a disgraced former chart topper: “Hello, hello, it’s good to back.”
Sorry to have to allude to such a despicable creature but in the almost 19 months since I left The Gazette it has become increasingly difficult to avoid referring to some tarnished, accused or acquitted celebrity.
Especially as I interviewed or met all of them back in the day (as the annoying expression goes).
Anyway, it really is good to be back in this midweek slot because, crikey, haven’t there been some changes?
The Talbot Gateway is just about finished – in time for the ever more complicated road to be dug up again for the much anticipated tramway to link Fleetwood with the civilised world (or as Poulton railway platform would have it, “Preston and beyond.”)
Blackpool Promenade is looking wonderful – especially now those pesky brightly coloured traditional deckchairs have been got rid of once and for all.
Other traditional targets which don’t quite fit with the resort’s planned future image must surely include seagulls (too many of them) and sand (too much of it). Then of course there is the Second Coming of the summer season.
Bearing in mind how busy I used to be I was amazed to read we haven’t had a proper one for a dozen or more years. But my amazement was nothing compared to The Manager’s.
“If there haven’t been any shows where were you all those nights you said you were out reviewing them?” she asked accusingly, while opening a bottle of the Chablis I’d saved for special occasions. And this didn’t sound like a special occasion.
Until that point I’d nothing particularly critical to say about the summer run of Mamma Mia! at the Opera House.
I was as pleased as anyone else that after around 16 years of being staged just about everywhere else in the world it was finally making its way to this entertainment capital.
I was also delighted, nay, relieved, that after the biggest marketing campaign any show has ever received in this normally laid back resort, it had finally opened.
But I was annoyed that it had cost me a bottle of good Chablis because, excellent acquisition though it is, Mamma Mia! is merely part of a summer season which, although very different from its heyday, has never gone away.
A couple of weeks ago I spent a very enjoyable evening at the opening of the latest Hot Ice production.
Obviously I took The Manager who will now be accompanying me to everything – just to prove my point. Give or take the odd hiatus there has been an ice extravaganza at the Pleasure Beach for almost 80 years.
Its season may not be as long as it used to be but as ever it is a world class show which does the resort proud.The Tower Circus is also going strong after scores of years.
It’s not as lavish as it used to be but it still attracts thousands of visitors and locals into its unique auditorium.
Having started its Blackpool life as a pier show (North then Central), Legends celebrates its silver anniversary this summer with its second successive and successful season at Sands Venue on the Promenade.
If you haven’t checked out the place yet, do so – with or without Legends – because it’s the nearest to a Las Vegas cabaret lounge we’ve got.
Then there’s Viva! – local money invested by local people, it has a packed programme throughout the year.
North Pier soldiers on with bargain priced shows and Blackpool Grand is breaking new ground – Avenue Q earlier this month was wonderful, New Jersey Nights which has just opened is another feelgood singalong musical show and Blam! Looks set to turn a few heads next month.
So the summer season is alive and well.
No one has re-invented the wheel, they’ve just polished up the chromework a bit.
As Mother Dearest says: ‘Better safe than sorry’
Sometimes it beats me how so many of us have made it so far in life.
Take last week’s Public Health England’s Level Two Heat Health Alert. I presume most of us got through it OK. You might not have even noticed it too much thanks to air conditioning and the sheer pleasure of seeing a bit of sunshine between the clouds.
The alert came when boffins noticed there was a “60% chance that temperatures will breach 30C (86F) over two consecutive days and not dip below 15C (59F) at night.” Good for them.
Time was when this would merely herald national rejoicing and “phew what a scorcher” headlines. Now it comes with a hitlist of warnings from the Department of the Blindingly Obvious eg close curtains that receive sun, open windows at night, turn off non-essential lights and electricals, wear light and loose cotton clothes with a hat, stay in the shade from 11am to 3pm, apply sunscreen of at least factor 15 with UVA protection, wear UV sunglasses, drink lots of cool drinks, look out for vulnerable people such as the old or ill, never leave anyone in a closed or parked vehicle!
Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven would be banned from spending their idyllic summers mostly running around in the open air.
As a child I must have taken all sorts of risks playing “outside” and hopefully I didn’t damage the Only One’s chances of survival by playing cricket with him (and a motley crew of tag-ons) on Scarborough beach for days on end.
Labour MP for Bassetlaw (where?) John Mann quite rightly called the advice “patronising nonsense” and added “I’ll be turning on my television and opening a beer from the fridge.”
Quite right too, especially considering Mother Dearest has only just surfaced after locking her front doors for days on end to avoid the crush of the Tour de France’s lightning visit to Yorkshire.
She lives in Meltham, a few miles from the cyclists zooming through Holmfirth – but better safe than sorry has always been one her many mottos.