When we were about 14 my good friend Derek and I did something that could be best described as ‘hazardous’.
For reasons lost in the mists of time young Derek’s dad saw fit to furnish him with an air pistol – obviously this wasn’t lethal enough, so he soon graduated to a crossbow.
No, not a cute sucker dart fired at a target crossbow – no – this was altogether a bit more William – you’ll have someone’s eye out – Tell.
Sticking the arrows in the fence was all well and good, but our younger selves needed something a bit more…edgy.
It was with this prerequisite in mind that we arranged to meet at our local area of disused land – known as ‘the field’ – with as many coats as we could get our youthful hands on.
We took turns at wearing as many coats as we were able to fit into to allow us to be shot with the crossbow in what we believed to be relative safety.
Phrases like, ‘Great shot, that would have definitely killed me…’ abounded.
We made are own fun in them days – and it didn’t do us any harm….gulp…
Anyway, at least we’re here to tell the tale – but it was with this glitch in our evolutionary history in mind that we returned to the campsite after a short soirée into Blackers – as absolutely no-one else calls Blackpool-in Derek’s car.
We went on the ‘slots’ winning loads of little tickets which we could exchange for plastic tat.
For us, one of the objects of our desires was a pack of 3, small, air propelled missiles that came with a squashy-up plastic launcher thing.
Much of the remainder of the evening was spent firing said rockets at each other, using the time honoured method of smacking the squashy-up launcher thing against our foreheads, trying to hit each other – but enjoying success similar to the North Korean missile programme trying to hit a barn door at 10 yards.
Ok – Derek did hit me with one of the little rockets – had we waited for my first successful impact we’d probably be there until Christmas.
Such was our giddy euphoria at the rocket launching game that, when one of our missiles (fired by Derek – yes, I am a coppers nark) landed on the roof of the big family tent next to us, we both laughed until we cried.
The following morning, we got rid of Derek’s car, enjoyed breakfast, walked the 4 miles into Blackers, before turning the day into, what could be best described as, a walk a mile train wreck after one of us – yes, ok it was me – uttered the fateful words,
‘Do you fancy a beer?’
A beer turned into many, the day turned into a maelstrom of alcohol and fatty foods, culminating in karaoke (he – Ziggy Stardust; me – Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Deep Blue Something – who?) and a keeebab. Yum!
The following day we set off at the crack of noon – I think I must have had a dodgy pint (?)
We’d been promised somewhere to stay in Kirkham which, by the coastal route we were taking, was about 14 miles up the road.
Our route took us the full length of Blackpool beach – even with all the amusements, B&B’s and hotels that have sprung up, it’s easy to see what first attracted folk to this part of the world – it really is a stunning bit of coastline with the wide expanses of golden beaches that gradually turn into dunes.
With that behind us we passed what, for all the world, looked like an old broken down concentration camp – complete with rolls of razor wire.
We were later reliably informed that this had been Pontins – a holiday camp.
Lytham and St Anne’s are towns further up the coast that have gradually merged around the golf course of the same name. They are remarkably similar on two counts…
First of all, the residential architecture is stunning – each has long avenues of Victorian townhouses, tall, resplendent, perhaps even a little decadent, interspersed by church after church – one of the locals believed that this clear outbreak of Godliness was a result of the guilt that the factory, mill and mine owners felt for their workers – while they lived out of sight – they were never quite out of mind…
Secondly, in no other part of the UK, so far, have I been so roundly ignored as I was in these twin towns.
The local’s ability to avoid eye contact is second to none. Even when Squeezing past on narrow bits of footpath when they had to negotiate their way around a guy pulling a bright yellow trailer (I promised Derek he’d get his trailer towing badge) and a bald bloke in a skirt, time and again there was no attempt to make any contact with their fellow humans…
I found it most uncomfortable at first – then, slightly hilarious. I say hello to everyone…but here it was made weirdly impossible.
How do they breed?
We finally got talking to a chap in a pub (lunch – we’d learned our lesson) – he believed it was down to the fact that it was a Monday. People were just back at work – they just didn’t want any interaction with two freeloaders as they wandered through the sunny day.
I later spoke with a chap in Preston who told me not to take it personally, the folk in Lytham and St. Anne’s ignore everyone…
Go on, prove me wrong…
Maybe they’d heard the story of the crossbow?
You’ll be delighted we made it to Kirkham – a bit late and a little travel weary, to be given a very warm welcome by….
Ah, well, that’s another story…
Walk a mile