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Rose Tinted Wonderland

Apparently Blackpool is rather more exotic than I had thought. According to the Civilisations  set of programmes on Iplayer, Stuart Maconie tells me that the cities of the North West were shaped by Empire.

It is easy to see I suppose when you look at Blackpool Tower and its older sister, the Eiffel. For those of you snortling with laughter now bear in mind that this edifice formed a great and happy part of my childhood. It would loom on the horizon as we chugged along the motorway and you knew that good times and crazy lights were ahead. There would be the River Caves and high tide.

The Eiffel, I will concede, is fancier, the smart chic French cousin but the idea is the same. The Eiffel Tower was about showing off and attracting paying idiots to the top of it. Blackpool went one step further and put a menagerie and myriad other tourist lures into its hefty red brick base.

NW TOURISM AWARDS 09

Inside of course it was a wonderland. That was back in the 70s when my eyes were rose tinted, never mind my spectacles. I have blogged before about the delights of the Tower Circus but I neglected to mention the ballroom. It’s featured on tv in several dance type or nostalgia type programmes but I remember it filled with dancing people and music, entirely golden and velvet red and seeming too huge a space to fit into the brick boundaries of the Tower. Cinderella surely was about to throw a glass clog and head out, rushing headlong for the Winter Gardens.

The Winter Gardens. They had me at the name. This building is not draped in icicles and managed by the Snow Queen but it was, in my day, a grand old dame of a building. The Victorians, inspired by their rape and pillaging adventures overseas brought frou-frou and rococo to the most basic of buildings. It was bling, even if they called it Gothic Revival.

When you were replete with the delights of the Winter Gardens you could head out towards that other palace of pleasure, Olympia. Here, Zeus himself ran the mini sports car track that took my sister and I on many a circular trip, sitting behind the white plastic steering wheels of trundling convertibles. And always always the merry music of the one-armed bandits.

The one-armed bandits, what a gang they were with their daylight penny robbery.

 
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‘a highly original talent’ – Beryl Bainbridge

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