It was as I remembered it. Beautiful sands sunlight reflecting in the rock pools, the wind whipping up foam on the waves, the whiff of candyfloss and the jingle jangle of coins being lost forever in the amusement arcades. Blackpool hadn’t changed much since I holidayed there as a child, tearing up and down the Golden Mile with my bucket and spade, Kiss Me Quick hat sticking to my head like glue.
But now I was tearing five kilometres along the seafront into a headwind that carried enough sand to give me an all-over exfoliation and turning to have the same treatment for five kilometres on the way back. It was, shall we say, bracing, and made me feel younger, though not as young as I am in the first photo!
We’d driven the 135 kilometres to run the the Blackpool Air Show 10km, the bargain £7 entry fee and free air show being enough to lure us to cross the Pennines. Plus I was on a mission to recreate the photo from my childhood. We always had our family holiday on the west coast when I was very young, aspiring to stay in Blackpool, but with a budget that could only take us to a boarding house in nearby Cleveleys. Blackpool was The Place to Be, with its three piers, pleasure beach housing the scariest roller coaster in the world, and of course the tower which seemed to glow in the sunshine, because as we all know, childhood holidays are full of sunshine, golden sand and chips. Chips every day, twice a day if I was good.
The me of more than 50 years ago would never have imagined running a race along that sea front. Though come to think of it, the me of that long ago would never have thought it possible to be so old, I mean, it’s positively ancient, laughable really, especially doing something so active. When I was a child, people of my age now just stayed inside eating lunch at 11am, dinner at 5pm and sipping Horlicks to take away the taste of the daily dose of Andrews Liver Salts, ready to go to bed with a good book at 8.30pm. They didn’t do sport, they just watched it, but only if it wasn’t too exciting, people of that age couldn’t do to get over-excited, it’s very bad for the heart.
And there I was on that same sea-front, loving Blackpool all over again. The town does get bad press, some see it as tacky and tawdry, beer and worse slopping down the streets. But for me, it reminded me of good times and gave me the chance to share it with friends and then eat chips.