Canavan’s Column - August 15, 2013

The Red Arrows
The Red Arrows
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‘Beryl, look, that’s a tri-engine Vulcan A672 – first used in Vietnam, got a DX Hornswaggle on the wing, a beauty isn’t it?’.

So said a middle-aged man with a moustache and a voice so monotone I’m guessing he owns a static caravan in Whitby and gets his kicks grouting the bathroom.

He was stood on top of a sand dune in St Annes, staring through a pair of binoculars at the airport runway.

He was there, of course, for the Blackpool Air Show, that annual extravaganza where dozens of different planes take to the sky around the Fylde coast.

I was there too, slightly reluctantly, dragged there by my better half.

“It will be fun,” said Mrs Canavan. “They have all sorts of different planes.”

So does Manchester Airport but I wouldn’t spend a day in terminal two.

I’ll say one thing though – the Air Show certainly draws in the punters, with 140,000 folk attending Sunday and Monday’s entertainment.

From what I could gather from my vantage point on the dunes (which had a very fetching view of the derelict and astonishingly ugly Pontins – a great advert for the beauty of the Fylde coast), the planes, once up in the air, flew around a bit and then landed again. Occasionally there was the odd bit of excitement, like a plane turning upside down for a moment, but essentially it was planes flying, which, and call me old-fashioned, I’d always thought was kind of the point of them.

The show-stealers, as always, were the good old Red Arrows, one of the things people throughout the world associate with Great Britain, along with Big Ben, Stonehenge and teenagers mugging old people.

The Red Arrows are terrific, though for the last few years I’ve not been able to watch them without feeling sad. There is a reason for this

When Mrs Canavan and I first met, she worked at The Grand Hotel in St Annes and the Red Arrows – who often land in Blackpool – stayed for the night.

They all wore their Red Arrows uniforms for dinner (as you would - if I were a Red Arrow I’d even wear it go shopping; imagine the kudos in Sainsbury’s) and one of them tried to chat up Mrs Canavan.

In the course of the conversation he revealed he was Red 10, which meant he didn’t have a plane to fly. There are only nine in the Red Arrows you see, so he was first reserve – like a sub in football, on the bench, desperate to take his tracky top off and get a game.

Mrs Canavan told me she lost interest after that, though made it clear had any of the nine first choice Red Arrow chaps hit on her she’d have left me faster than you can say ‘Steve, I’ve met a Red Arrow - take care of the cat, have a good life’.

But every time I see those Arrows in flight now, I can’t help but think there’s some poor bloke sat in the terminal, head in hands, beating the ground, necking anti-depressant and wailing ‘why never me?’

The Red Arrows finished the show with their trademark heart signature (though is it not time they upped their game and used the smoke to write out the words ‘Blackpool, you’ve been great - see you next year!’, or something similarly snazzy?).

Then we all clambered off the dunes and went home.