I drove to work the other day. Norbreck to Lytham. For two days a week I’m based at the magnificent Jubilee House overlooking Lytham Green. Windmill one way. Estuary the other. BAE Systems three miles up the road. Great to see the jets scorching past.
I may not have a jet but I never tire of the drive there, no matter the weather.
The sea may be wild or calm, the Tower obscured by mist or pagoda-like rigging, the wedding chapel looking like King Midas’s Springwatch seaside retreat.
Blackpool and the Fylde have grown on me. A Facebook post from an influential entertainments type invited me to comment on a general ‘Blackpool – what a dump’ thread the other day.
And I thought what a drag. I have a life. I choose to spend it in Blackpool. I have lived and worked elsewhere and come back. I’m likely to stay –unless ERNIE saves the day and ships me to France.
Blackpool gets you on a long hook.
What irked most about the comment – ‘over to you, Jacqui’ – was the fact this chap’s family was one of the dynasties which made Blackpool great before selling up, packing up and moving south when things got tougher.
They wanted to demolish a theatre, too.
It’s hard to claim the moral high ground when you may have contributed to the decline, surely?
As bits of my childhood landscape get demolished, set ablaze, or closed down I tend to look at what is left rather than lost.
I drank in all the sights and sounds on my drive in. Blackpool’s not as busy as it would have been back in the more targeted promotional days of tourism director Barry Morris and co – and I’d still think twice about borrowing money to build a new five star hotel when so many are lying idle on the seafront … but the town’s been written off far too soon by some social media commentators.
I used to take pretty much the same route, prom all the way, to the Gazette at Squires Gate – but I no longer have to pass the airport and feel the rising ire at the shabby dismissal of all that civil aviation history so lightly sold to the highest bidders while Manchester Airport grows apace and increasingly unpleasant.
We may eventually walk the length of one of Blackpool’s short hop flights – just to reach the boarding gates at Manchester.
Now as I drive past Starr Gate, onwards to Lytham, the journey feels like a gift to be unwrapped. I documented it this week via Instagram which added at least half an hour to the time while I paused to take pictures.
Those 14 miles from home to office make me realise how lucky I am to work on the Fylde coast – and I mean coast.
The sea’s a brisk 10 minutes walk from my home at Norbreck and at Jubilee House you look out to see egrets and tiny boats.
There are wild flowers on the coastal path. Later in August, after Lytham Festival is over, I hope to join colleagues helping clear any debris or detritus which may have drifted our way.
How many routes to work include so many attractions, or beach huts, a replica Spitfire, sunken gardens, piers, outdoor cafes, a white church – and Granny’s Bay?
Even the white elephant of the closed down ride formerly known as Carnesky’s Ghost Train has a certain gothic shabby chic.
It’s nowhere near as scary as the oversized golf figure with slightly crazy eyes standing vigil at the crazy golf course at Starr Gate. No wonder Tim Burton set a film here.
I don’t profess to be good at photography but I get more of a buzz from seeing one of my pictures in print than any number of words.
I love bold lines and odd angles and scenes that seem jarringly surreal.
When I stopped to let several elderly people in mobility scooters cross near the Metropole Hotel there was something very Abbey Road about it all.
But my favourite picture from that day is the one when I got photo bombed by a dapper chap at Granny’s Bay, out strolling with his wife. He was wonderful.
Hat, bowtie, stick, military bearing. When he asked if Jubilee House was as magnificent inside as out I almost abducted him – wife and all – for a guided tour. If you’re reading this, sir, the offer’s there.
I’d be tickled if
Ken was gonged
I’ve been in a state of shock this week since the news that Lenny Henry was to be knighted for services to Comic Relief – while poor old Doddie, the definitive court jester, still languishes on the sidelines.
Some equilibrium was restored by the announcement that money from the will of the late great Alan Whicker, who died in July 2013, would fund other documentarians.
Even better, one of the three prizes totalling £100k to new film makers includes a category to encourage people aged over 50 to film their first documentary.
Not sure my efforts would get far. I filmed a choir a few weeks ago and zoomed in on one poor child so closely she’s probably still having nightmares.
And when I filmed Blackpool’s Goalden Girls going Gangnam at Funny Girls for a fund-raiser – I laughed so much that every sequence shook more than ladies of uncertain years tend to when dancing.
You can also hear me singing on YouTube ‘hey, sexeee ladeees.’ Mortifying.
Whicker’s a tough act to follow. The man was so suave viewers didn’t always appreciate just how sharp and smart a journalist he actually was. The prizes promote “playful” projects that “break new ground.”
What a wonderful way to commemorate the warmth, wit and wisdom of the man. Whicker’s World remains a benchmark in broadcast journalism.
Try as he might Sir Trevor McDonald will never catch up.