Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blackpool 17th – 19th October 2010

Okay, so this wasn’t a gig, more a holiday thingy...and I didn’t even get to see any bands but what the hell, I did get to see ‘last of the variety kings’ Ken Dodd. Hell yeah...let’s rock. Holidays at Baron Towers ain’t been going too well this year what with Lady B nearly dying after getting back from Florida and our Glastonbury experience proving to be less than positive. Speaking of which the company that we worked for – Defensa Security Limited – didn’t pay anyone and now appears to have been wound up, owing a load of other people a hell of a lot of money. I can’t say I’m surprised having met the character in charge, Mike Quinton. I’m not overly fussed about my dosh, I’m old enough to know better than to work for a ‘company’ like this (the alrm bells started ringing long before I got on site) but it’s the other poor sods I feel sorry for. Most were students. As if it’s not bad enough facing a future of debt, unemployment and a pension age that’ll always remain tantalisingly out of reach (not that they’ll be any money left by then anyway) now they’ve been royally shafted by some dodgy geezer working (indirectly) for Glastonbury PLC too. I hearby call upon Mr Eavis to offer us all free tickets for next year to make up for it. Deal?

Anyway, back to Blackpool. I’ve not been for years but it seemed to be pretty much the same. Like most places it now has a shopping mall and they’re spending a few million on tarting up the promenade but there’s no disguising the fact that times are tough up there. Of course it’s out of season now (although the illuminations are still on) and maybe the place is still buzzing in the Summer but it’s a real shame that so many of us seem to have rejected the simple pleasures of a good old fashioned British seaside holiday for the sure fire sun and sexual diseases of the Med. Take the place in the right spirit and there’s plenty of fun to be had in Blackpool’s faded glamour. The Grand Theatre (scene of Ken Dodd’s bum numbing six hour show) is just beautiful and I hear that the new owners of the Tower Ballroom are spending a wedge on bringing that back up to its former glory too (we didn’t go this time because the tower itself was closed due to high winds...pah...where’s the bulldog sprit eh?). Dodd’s show itself was a laugh a minute...certainly for the first two or three hours. After that you start to feel a little like one of those Chilean miners. It’s proper old school humour too, full of puns and gentle quips about himself and members of the audience who were pretty much all, let’s say, ‘mature’. Dodd himself is just a few weeks short of his 83rd birthday. Incredible.

The other highlight of the trip was a visit to legendary drag queen show ’Funny Girls', now housed in a lush art deco cinema. Fortified by a couple of bottles of vin rouge I enjoyed every second of their surprisingly polished show, featuring an array of “cocks in frocks” all dancing and miming their way through a variety of show tunes and pop hits. A standing ticket cost a mere £3.95 and the whole show (the host, Zoe, played records in between the cabaret) lasted over 3 hours. Bargain. Some of those ‘girls’ looked mighty fine to me too...hmmm...maybe I’m on the turn?

A final mention must go to our B & B, The Kenley. Currently the number one B&B in Blackpool (according to Trip Advisor) it’s also been voted the second best in the UK and, incredibly, the 11th best in the world. I can see why. The owners, Mike and Tony, would put most posh hotels to shame and, whilst the place itself might not be as opulent as the Ritz the general standard of service and attention to detail is every bit as impressive. The food was frankly awesome too. A home cooked four course meal came in at recession busting £12. Again there’s nothing pretentious about it but the presentation and flavours were mouth watering. The Raspberry Pavlova and Boozy Bread and Butter Pudding were to die for and the melt in the mouth crackling that came as a side dish to the roast pork was the best I’ve ever tasted (cue Homer Simpson style dribbling). Rooms are just £55 per night (that includes a full cooked breakfast that’ll set you up for the day) and we arrived to a complimentary bottle of wine and box of Lindt chocolates as I’d mentioned to Tony that it was recently our wedding anniversary and Lady B’s birthday. You don’t get that at The Ritz Carlton...

So there we go. The next time you fancy a holiday (and, let’s face it, if you still have a job today there’s a fair chance you’ll have plenty of free time soon) grab your bucket and spade, tuck your todger between your legs (men only...unless you’re one of those lady boys) and get yourself to the ‘pool.

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