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Wednesday 4th July 2018
Eeebahgum... a bit hot isn't it? With constant sunshine and heat, it's fair to say that Blackpool is a bit on the busy side. I've never been a fan of the heat, but it is more tolerable here and of course means keeping busy with plenty of walking and photo opportunities which I certainly can't complain about. I sure will complain about the dire so called "service" Northern Rail have been giving with endless cancellations, replacement buses and delays though truth be told, this has been going on for at least 2 or 3 years. I travel by train because I HATE buses and these farcical issues have been holding me hostage from travelling to visit my family for a few days. Rail privatisation DOESN'T WORK but hey, we're shoved up away in the North so zero priority is being given to us by the government to try and resolve this twisted state of affairs. Enough of my ranting...
The Brian Prebble Experience performed again at the Pub Poets on 1st July - 2 pieces, one being "I'm A Mental Case" written by Ronald L. Smith and the other, "Bridezilla" some kind of twisted poke in the eye at the Jeremy Kyle show where I inflicted some more audience participation. A pity about the meagre turnout, one of the side effects of hot weather.
I recently signed up for the Electric Sunshine Project's scriptwriting course which begins in September and by way of preparation, I'm midway through a creative writing course fronted by author Tania Hershman. I am enjoying it though finding it strange on two levels - first, having to handwrite with pen and paper. I used to write every day via that method to the degree I had a permanent indentation in my middle finger where the pen would sit, but times have changed and 99% of my writing is now typed so kinda shocking how one's formerly neat meticulous handwriting has suffered due to lack of practice. Secondly, trying to find my feet again writing stories is proving a challenge... another thing I was pretty good at when younger but years of being given bad books to read had me running away from reading fiction, so my writing efforts on the course have been rather random and bizarre to say the least.
Tania has been giving us a variety of short stories to read and study and that's been curious seeing a range of different writing styles, some I find hard to digest because of what I was taught about writing at school so trying to open my mind to the fact that there are no real rules when it comes to writing is another challenge as I'm so set in my ways... but it's interesting all the same!
I haven't been to any gigs or theatre events for a while. I'm not at all impressed by the endless "choice" of tribute shows or jukebox musicals. Theatre has gotten so safe and bland. The Grand Theatre is presenting SIX WEEKS of an Abba tribute show which I find depressing as I cannot stand Abba. Central Pier have their "Kings and Queens of Rock, Pop and Roll" show and at Blackpool Tower, the "Legends" show - ALL tribute shows of people impersonating somebody else.
It's not good enough - I want to see ORIGINAL talent, doing ORIGINAL material. Gone are the days when Summer shows would actually feature big name talents you actually heard of. The Winter Gardens got themselves in a tizzy announcing cast members for their Christmas shows and the main star? I've never heard of her because I don't watch drossy TV "talent" shows.
Thankfully, there are a handful of performances being given by the Electric Sunshine Project's THESP's ensemble in early August, a show entitled "Sandgrown Tails" which I am looking forward to checking out.
July is going to be an active month. This Saturday, 7th July I will be volunteering as part of the LeftCoast Makers team at the Wordpool Festival in Stanley Park then the following Sunday 15th July, likewise at the Spare Parts Festival in Fleetwood. I've not witnessed one of those events before so bound to be an experience.
My work on Instagram appears to be steadily growing more popular though did run into a spot of bother over one photo and how it was captioned recently. I simply document whatever I find... sometimes it's not pretty, but I think it's honest plus it ties in with my archiving nature as there are tons that never get published all of which is being preserved since I am essentially trying to create an in-depth snapshot of Blackpool in 2018 and of the people that pass through.
Lastly, a short rant. I'm not too happy about Blackpool Council's latest plan to deal with "nuisances" in the area... sure, the druggies, incessant beggars and con merchants need dealing with but I take exception to the fact that buskers and street entertainers are being lumped in as well and sounds like they're trying to "regulate" and restrict busking like they do in London and various other cities and towns. I object to that because buskers and street entertainers add colour and charm to the place. Sure, not all of them are good but they have a place. I think it's grossly unfair for a "panel" to decide who are "good enough" to busk or not. Busking can be a brilliant way to improve one's talents and skills. We only have to look at "Britain's Got Talent" or "The X-Factor" to see why judging what is good or bad is not a good idea. Hell, there's a place for everyone who wishes to entertain. It's optional entertainment - you have a choice whether to enjoy and donate or just ignore it and walk away. Druggies pestering and harrassing you for "change" for the cliched "cuppa tea" is a different matter entirely and it's unfair that buskers are being lumped in with them as the druggies just leech, demand and take whereas entertainers are actually GIVING something back. How the plan will pan out, time will tell but they're my thoughts on it all the same.
Thursday 12th July 2018
Last Saturday saw Wordpool's Most Marvellous Family Day in Stanley Park where I took part as a volunteer with LeftCoast Makers. It was terrific fun. Quite a few fascinating spectacles, the highlight for me being Adambara and Zhim by Curious Creations which is a walkabout show featuring a mouse and a baby elephant. With temperatures over 25 degrees I couldn't help but wonder and worry about the chap inside the elephant and I did witness him removing the costume. I don't think I've ever seen anyone produce so much sweat in my entire life! It was nice seeing plenty of people enjoying what was going on and a real shame around 14:30 it gradually grew quieter because most rushed off to watch television instead. Was nice to banter/work alongside people like Sandra Mangan, Jill Reidy, Linda Hampton and Melanie Whitehead (to name a few) who contributed to the day. A memorable occasion, lovely surroundings, great (if hot) weather, plenty of great photos taken and a grand time had by all. I look forward to next year.
This Sunday, I will be with LeftCoast Makers again, this time in Fleetwood for the day long Tram Sunday/Spare Parts Festival. This is apparently a popular event spanning the entire day and will be my first time witnessing it. Goodness knows what I'll be doing yet but am looking forward to it. Plenty going on, a spectacle for people of all ages.
Next week will see the conclusion of the short story writing course led by Tania Hershman. It's been a very interesting experience, trying to find my feet again in the realm of fictional writing. I tend to either write downright random surreal nonsense or stuff based on characters or episodes from my own life. Safe to say you won't be getting any novels out of me just yet but plenty of food for thought, gotten me writing to order and I enjoy the challenges Tania has put to us.
My Mum has been grumbling a lot lately as she's not seen me since I moved in February. There was a small window where I was due to travel only for the Northern Rail idiots to screw it up completely and since then, train travel has been too perilous. I travel by train because I HATE travelling longer than an hour on buses. During Mum's latest grumble I had to admit that finding a window of time long enough to justify a three plus hour cross country journey and 2 or 3 days of quality time is currently impossible because I'm busy most of the time. I can understand why she's a bit peeved about the situation but it was one of the main reasons I moved to Blackpool - I knew I'd be kept BUSY. After years of living in a part of the country where virtually nothing happens and there is nothing to do, I am loving every minute of it. Good to have a pulse, be dashing about, getting healthy (I've shed almost one and a half stone thanks to a gym regime), meeting people, witnessing events, learning, being creative, performing.
It goes without saying that 2018 so far has been my best and busiest year since 1999. I was doubting whether I would enjoy one year in this bizarre 21st Century! Blackpool is HOME. I belong here and it means so much to me to actually be living in a place where I feel useful, human and alive.
Friday 20th July 2018
At last... a grey rainy day! I know most of you love the sunshine and heat, but I'm relieved to have a break from the monotony and its very upsetting seeing how brown and dead grass looks thanks to the never ending heatwave. But enough on the weather...
Last Sunday's Tram Sunday/Spare Parts Festival event in Fleetwood was fascinating and enjoyable. I've no idea how many turned up... last year's estimate was 70,000 and can well believe it matched it this year. It was a pleasure working as part of the LeftCoast Makers team, always good to have a laugh and a banter with them. I was one of the helpers on the Virtual Reality Swing experience... or whatever it was called and naturally, got to have a go to get an idea of what it was about. Oh dear... I was in a tiny minority who couldn't handle it. I started swinging, the visuals started and I immediately felt rather sick and screamed "get me off!" It was interesting observing how others reacted, mostly favourably.
Then I was circulating around a car park where various stunt displays were going on which made me queasy just standing with my two feet on the ground seeing these people risk life and limb in the name of entertainment. I certainly wasn't expecting to be in the parade itself and that felt most peculiar walking along, waving a flag and seeing thousands of phones and cameras staring at me. Mind you, never one to miss an opportunity, I snapped photos of all that as we went along and got some intriguing results. Some of the best photos can be seen on Instagram. A long, hot and tiring day but with a great vibe which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Last night saw the final class - in the series of six - of Tania Hershman's short story writing workshop. A pleasant course I found challenging, but feel sad to admit it failed to re-ignite my interest in creative story writing. A real shame as I hoped the course might help me get back into it as I excelled at story writing as a kid and teen but... times change, we move on. The various bits and pieces I wrote on the course I think can safely be locked away in one of my bits and pieces folders never to be seen again!
And now Blackpool enters full chaos season as virtually all the kids in the UK are now on their summer holidays. Always my least favourite time of the year, it's gonna be interesting to see how I fare living with it on a daily basis in Blackpool. Still, I have plenty to be keeping me active and amused and no doubt will get tons more photos. Just a pity there's no theatre shows I fancy seeing and it galls me to see the Grand Theatre being wasted on some Abba tribute act for eight solid weeks.
Ah well... always something to be grumpy about I suppose.