In Blackpool we generally like to think we’re as honest as the day is long. But, if the results of a Gazette ‘good character’ survey are to be believed it seems we’re actually about as honest as the morning is long.
Because, in what may very well be the world’s least scientific survey, we adapted an ‘honesty test’ developed by author PG Wodehouse, the genius behind the Jeeves and Wooster comic novels, to find out whether we in the resort are still capable of doing the decent thing.
And the result? Well, we’re pretty honest – in parts!
Wodehouse, who’s novels about the foppish Bertie Wooster and his unflappable valet Jeeves first appeared in the rather more starched-shirt 1930s, was so convinced of the good character of the British people he never bothered posting his letters.
Instead he stamped and addressed them and simply flung them out of the window saying: “Someone always picks them up and posts them.”
So, we sent our intrepid reporter out armed with 22 stamped and self addressed letters with strict instructions to sneakily drop them in various well-known places around the resort. Then we sat back and waited for seven days.
And the results? Well, (and just to reiterate, this is a fun, non-scientific survey the results of which in no way reflect the brand values of the places we left the letters in – so put the pens down marketing types...) the good news is the letter we left down the police station in Bonny Street quickly winged its way back proving that, at least in Blackpool, the long arm of the law can still reach the post box.
It is perhaps no surprise either the decent, bookish, coves frequenting Waterstones, in Bank Hey Street, managed to get our letter back to us as did someone at the main library in Queen Street.
But what of M&S – that bastion of middle-class decency?
Well, it was very close to the wire. The first draft of this article assumed our letter was languishing in a skip somewhere, as lonely and unloved as yesterday’s smoked salmon bagel, but nine days after we left our envelope sandwiched between the posh butties in the Food Court it arrived. That’s the thing with M&S though, they’re always brilliant with returns.
All of which brings us to McDonalds on Bank Hey Street. Not only did our letter find its way back sharpish but it took our reporter three attempts to successfully leave an envelope there because he kept getting called back amid cries of ‘excuse me mate, I think you dropped something!’
The Winter Gardens gave us a similarly heart-warming result – just minutes after the letter was dropped, and right before our very eyes, a staff member picked it up and popped it in the post.
So, what about the bad-boys? The places where our letters were just so much scrap paper to be swept up and binned?
Step forward Yates, in Market Street, go to the back of the class Coral Island, tut-tut Seaworld and Poundworld, and perhaps most shockingly of all... our beloved Tower!
In the final analysis our reporter dropped 22 letters and got 11 back. So, 50/50, half and half, a ‘pass’, at best.
And take heart Blackpool, the same test was recently carried out in that London and they only got TWO letters back.
So there you go then, we’re more honest than London, but you probably knew that all along.
Were the letters returned?
1. Yates on the Prom – No
2. McDonalds near Primark – Yes
3. Bonmarche – Yes
4. Coral Island – No
5. Police station – Yes
6. Sealife – No
7. Poundworld – No
8. Waterstones – Yes
9. Tower – No
10. Starbucks Hounds Hill – No
11. Foodcourt Hounds Hill – Yes
12. WH Smith – Yes
13. Food M&S – Yes
14. Winter Gardens – Yes
15. Library – Yes
16. Job Centre – No
17. Tram to Fleetwood – Yes
18. Madame Tussauds – Yes
19. Bus to Starr Gate – No
20. Comedy Carpet – No
21. Outside Pleasure Beach – No
22. The beach at Central Pier – No