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Blackpool. The Death of Tourism.

16/08/2009

As my mum and my sister’s family live near Blackpool, my wife and I have started our trip to England at this famous sea-side resort. Back in the day, Blackpool was the place to be. Old postcards show hundreds of holiday-makers from right across Britain all flocking to Blackpool.

blackpool old style

Today the story’s a bit different. People still flock to Blackpool but mostly they’re stag or hen parties looking for Britain’s answer to a Las Vegas styled night out of cheap thrills.

People don’t really go in the water as it tends to be a bit murky. Posters along the promenade boast a £50 million project to pipe waste out to sea, which begs the question “where did all the waste go before?”.

To be honest, I’ve always hated Blackpool.  I can’t stand the forced tackiness, the skin-heads with their popped-collar Lacoste t-shirts, the fairground rides that look like they haven’t been serviced since 1923, and even the famous Blackpool rock.

Once the novelty of a stick with words printed all the way through it has worn off, you’re left with a pointy, sharp block of coloured sugar that cracks your teeth and doubles as a sticky weapon.

I was quite keen to hear my wife’s point of view of the city. Being a South African born New Zealander, she had a unique, un-tainted perspective of Blackpool. Well, I say un-tainted but when she told people in New Zealand that she was spending 36 hours and $2,500 flying to Blackpool, she got a few raised eyebrows from those in the know.

Now admittedly when we hit Blackpool it started slamming with rain. Not the best introduction to a city but secretly I was glad that my wife could experience some proper English weather!

Blackpool in the rain

Typically, each time I pulled my camera out, my mum would stop this windscreen wipers so they wouldn’t get in the shot. A nice thought but one with two side-effects: 1) the windscreen would get covered with water so I couldn’t see out anyway, and 2) my mum, the driver, couldn’t see out of the window either. Thanks mum but if it came to a choice between me getting a slightly clearer photo and you being able to see the road, I’d much rather have the latter.

Amazingly at first, my wife was quite impressed! Looking at the fairground rides and the flashing lights, she said “Ya know, as a tourist, I can imagine that this place would be a great city to visit”.

Blackpool Tower

Once the rain had eased off slightly and we made our way down the Golden Mile, she had a much better chance to take a good look at the tacky gift shops, the 10p bingo clubs, the drunken tourists and the cheesey horse rides where the horses had to wear these nappy things to collect their crap – and she changed her tune.

So all in all, I’m quite willing to spend time in Blackpool if it means seeing my family, but if my family lived elsewhere, I wouldn’t touch the place with a 10 foot barge pole!

Blackpool - City of Speed Cameras. At least they're all marked.

Blackpool – City of Speed Cameras. At least they’re all marked.

Vail? Hmm. This was just down the road for a corner store with a giant sign that said "Fugde Corner" - no joke.

Vail? Hmm. This was just down the road for a corner store with a giant sign that said “Fugde Corner” – no joke.

At least the owners of this vehicle had class. A BMW X5 limo. Parked not far from a Chrysler 300C limo. Nice.

The owners of this vehicle had class. A BMW X5 limo. Parked not far from a Chrysler 300C limo. Nice.

Incidentally, when we were packing to leave New Zealand, my wife showed me a shortish skirt and said “What do you think of this? Too short? Will people in England think I’m a bit slutty if I wear this? Do they dress quite conservatively in the UK?”. In response, I laughed. When we passed this takeaway stand in Blackpool, my wife realised why.

blackpool short skirts

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