So here I am at the Town Hall - in the glorious main council chamber. Looking at the stained glass depiction of battling Jacobites at Preston alongside.
And down below at happy smiling faces of winners, runners up and highly commended of Blackpool in Bloom below - the resort’s annual floral battle.
Welcome to Beautiful Blackpool as it’s dubbed by organiser Elaine Smith. And all it’s going wonderfully well and I’m taking notes and pictures as I have every year for the last few years. See centre spread tomorrow for the special report.
Then a councillor stands up and has a bit of a go at “media negativity” and how we should be writing about this, the “other side” of Blackpool .
And I huff a bit because I’m doing just that, just as I did last year when I turned up to find a TV “documentary” team here filming the event for a dreary bit of broadcasting which showed Blackpool in its usual light (for visiting film teams). Painted unremittingly bleak - bar the one shaft of sunshine represented by this event. If I felt shafted by the programme heaven knows how Blackpool in Bloom felt.
And I remember being quizzed by the programme maker for my slant on the “other side” of Blackpool - and flatly refusing to comment.
Most of us don’t have an agenda when reporting on Blackpool. We live here, we work here. I pay my council taxes here. That entitles me to say it like it is. Just the facts, ma’am, as Snoopy used to say.
I won’t kick it when it’s down but give it a helping hand back up. There are things painfully wrong about this town - we wouldn’t have such nosebleedingly high social deprivation if we were south of Watford Gap and supported by the sort of investment ALL seaside resorts should receive as a given. But much is right too.
There are grot spots I would flatten in a heartbeat given half a chance - but some brand new buildings springing up likely to transform the resort’s tired old town centre.
And Blackpool is still a great place to - simply be.
I walked past an open air karaoke concert in St Johns en route to Blackpool in Bloom. I had just been interviewing a former drug addict who’s now a man with a mission. I was off to meet kids and adults keen to show civic pride by transforming their gardens or businesses or schools or community areas. Lovely inspirational people. Hey Big Spender was being belted out, surprisingly on key, by a wannabe singer - and it lifted my spirits further.
Last Saturday I caught the matinee of Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Opera House. I left dancing on air - and wondering why the heck all those who grumble they never go to town by night because it’s so “dangerous” (oh, come on, been to Nottingham lately?) hadn’t bothered to catch the matinee. Great show. Unmissable. Don’t make the same mistake with the Bill Kenwright productions heading here. Justify his faith in the town. Book seats for Cabaret and Scrooge and more.
And on Monday, a day I no longer work, I even found a positive in the negatives of Central Promenade - the fact I could watch a chunk of the Air Show while stuck in slow moving traffic. Dancing on air again! Negativity? No...
Life’s a beach hut (sorry shed owners)
Just to show I lead by example when it comes to Blackpool in Bloom here’s the transformation of my new shed into beach hut.
I could have forked out £750 on a “pimp your shed” deal online.
Instead it cost three cans of Coastal Mist (not nearly as blue as it looks on the tin), Beach Blue (not nearly as grey as our sea) and a shade called Sundae which you should never use on the Sunday of an air show.
When I glanced down from the Red Arrows above I’d painted Sundae over Blue Beach.
Life’s a beach. Now I’ve always yearned for a beach hut - a sort of writer’s shed like Dylan Thomas.
The problem is - no one else likes it.
Women appreciate the sentiment but not the results. Men, real shed men, detest it to a man. Word is the lads who built it for me at Bromptons joiners are in retreat.
When I found out where I’ll repaint it for them too...