I don't call the below a memory. An impression of one filtered through the years. It will be different from other members of my family. Parts of it will be mis remembered but emotionally they're real.
When I was growing up we were lucky to go a number of holidays. A lot of the time it was Blackpool!
A MEMORY OF DANCING BLACKPOOL.
When I was growing up there were two places we went on holiday—Scarborough or Blackpool.
This is a story about Blackpool and in particular Blackpool Tower. A story because like all memory it is part fact but mostly emotion.
The first thing that always pops into my head about Blackpool is the excitement on the journey down at the first sight of the tower. It turned into a game, a very competitive game between me and my sister as to who would spot it first. You could see it for miles before you actually arrived in Blackpool.
The second thing I remember is arriving in Blackpool itself and the sudden pulse of energy sweeping your way carrying off any tiredness or tetchiness brought on by the long journey. Even my dad who had to drive the long long way—it seemed to takes days when I was eight or nine. It must have seemed like weeks to him with two crabbit and snarling children in the back of the car. Quiet or sit in your seat weren’t words that me and my sister understood very well!
Jumping ahead over the booking into the bed and breakfast; the dragging on parents along the promenade with its swarm of laughing ‘kiss me quick’ hatted people; passed the ‘clickety click’ of the bingo callers; the pull of the puggees; the swirl of sand on the pavement overlooking the beach; the rattle and groan of the trams my mind is weaving along the corridors of the tower itself to the huge ballroom.
There we settle ourselves amongst the well-dressed holiday makers. For day has turned to early evening and the candelabra is twinkling like the toes of the dancers waltzing around the ball room. My dad brow furrowed in concentration as he manoeuvres a tray of drinks onto our table. Coke for me and my sister. Bacardi and Coke for my mum. A ‘half’ and a ‘half’ for my dad—a whisky and half of lager.
My dad was never one for dancing as far as I can remember. My mother on the other hand loved it. The tower ball room was her holiday. And a huge part of mine though of course I never really thought of it like that then—the beach, the pleasure beach that is was my holiday!
The smile on my mother’s face, the glance my way. ‘Here we go.’
The hush and then the distant sound of music. Music getting louder and louder as the stage parted and rising to thunderous applause was Reginald Dixon sitting at his seat back to his adoring audience playing ‘I Do Like to be beside the Seaside’ on the huge size of the stage 3m/14r ‘Wonder’ Wurlitzer pipe organ that became the backdrop to the whole stage.
‘Remember. One two three one two three.’ My mum would whisper as we headed for the dancefloor. I tried to lead and my mum let me but guided me as best she could.
Looking back now those moments have risen above the sandcastles on the beach; the ‘log flume’ on the pleasure beach; the trying to get a glimpse of the crackle of electricity along the wires above the trams.
The ball room was packed and sometimes it didn’t matter if I lead or not we just circled around on one spot since we couldn’t move any direction. When I think back though I can only see my mum and I dancing. My mum the scent of a rare night out perfume mixing with cigarette. My mum not at the kitchen sink or peeling potatoes or straightening my school tie. My mum humming along to the tunes blaring out from the stage occasionally the words forming into song especially when it the repertoire circled back to ‘I do like to be by the Seaside’ and both of us singing me sometimes in tune.
My mum was always in tune.