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Sunday 5th August 2018
August kicked off in style with one of those memorable weekends that is pure Blackpool. Yes, it's the height of the summer season as many thousands of families are enjoying themselves on holiday in spite of Northern Trains' farcical never improving joke of a service.
This weekend sees the "Rebellion" punk festival. This event has been running here since 1996 and based within the Winter Gardens complex it proves to be as popular as ever. Truth be told, I'm not exactly a punk connoisseur (though if my friend Honey Bane ever performs at the event, I'll be first in line to bag a ticket!) so haven't been any part of the events indoors and have no desire to suffer doses of tinnitus, BUT... with thousands of punks young and old in the area, to say they've added a big dose of colour to the town centre is putting it mildly and I've had great fun documenting them with my camera. A whole load of photos can be found on our Instagram page and I'm staggered by the feedback as they've proved to be very popular. I like to think they capture a flavour of the event and I would also like to go on record and state that the punks have been zero trouble at all. Some may look intimidating and menacing but they're having a good time without being a nuisance or bringing violence and disruption to the town... which is more than I can say for those "young farmer" cretins we suffered in early May. I am delighted that the Young Farmer's Association have axed their convention as a result of this years' shameful display but a whole load of "young farmers" in a sulk are intent on being defiant and coming back next year anyway which I don't think many of us are pleased about.
Oh, and did I mention the "Jolly Rotten Punk"? He's a puppet busker who travels around and been doing so for the last 20 years. To coincide with the punk festival, he's been enjoying a stay in Blackpool and is wonderfully funny. He sits there with his large backpack, occasionally playing tunes on his penny whistle and grumbles, gripes and pontificates aloud to bystanders and passers by. He has to be seen and heard to be believed, and if you do see him, don't forget to blow him a raspberry and give him a high five! You can see a photo of him in action on our Instagram page.
As always in Blackpool at this time of year, there's a load of things going on and it really is impossible for me to take it all in or cover. Thankfully we do have a good network of local photographers so any events I miss, one can be certain that one or two of my fellow photographers will be covering it. Say what you like about Blackpool (and some people do) it is a vibrant and lively colourful town I am proud to call home and am loving it living here. There has been many gripes and grumbles about the lengthy heatwave and believe me, where such weather is concerned, I am firmly a hater - I'm an autumn and winter man and detest incessant heat and sunshine - yet it's been tolerable as being by the sea it is a few degrees cooler than most places so sure, we have hot days and some sticky nights but they've felt much worse in other places where I have lived and this heatwave is apparently the hottest on record. Hmmm.
Anyway, last night I was at The Attic at Blackpool Pleasure Beach to witness the Electric Sunshine Project's "Sandgrown Tails" which proved to be a most memorable occasion and feast for the senses to the degree I have written and published a review which you can read here. Wonderful stuff and glad to have caught it as it had a short run of just 6 shows. Melanie Whitehead informed me that I was the first person to buy a ticket for the show and it was great to have a banter with her and photographer Claire Walmsley-Griffiths after the show along with some members of the hugely talented cast. I chose the Saturday evening performance for two reasons - it was the 4th show and I figured by then, especially having done 2 shows earlier in the day that any kinks and foibles would had been smoothed out and secondly, it's very rare there is anything for me to go out and see on a Saturday night! We need not repeat my thoughts on the plethora of "tribute" shows there are around here so this was a much needed breath of fresh, cool, salty sea air! Terrific fun and the Electric Sunshine Project are well worth keeping an eye on.
Unfortunately, next weekend I will be leaving Blackpool for a brief stay with family and it will be the first time I'll have seen them since February when I moved here. I think they'll be in for some surprises as I have lost one and a half stone in weight and looking much leaner and healthier for it thanks to the gym regime I started in March. I'm not a health freak by any means but I gotta admit it has done me the world of wonders. One does need to keep an eye on one's physical health and try and keep in shape especially as one gets older!
Anyway, enough of my blatherings for now, so hopefully catch you all again in a couple of weeks time.
In the meantime, we add content at Instagram daily and there are occasional tweetings on Twitter so stay in the loop with us as things grow ever more interesting in 2018.
Sunday 26th August 2018
It is now six months since I made the life-changing move from Lincolnshire to Blackpool so I thought I’d do a more personal post dealing with this and share some of my thoughts on Blackpool in general plus my visions for the future.
It goes without saying that so far, I’ve had a fantastic time. Life is so radically different to the ones I had before! A couple of weekends ago, I made a short return to Lincolnshire and my family were stunned by how I was looking. They also noticed that for the first time in goodness knows how many years, I was exuding confidence. I knew that this visit marked the end of “phase one” in Blackpool. “Phase two” is now underway and it’s already proving to be different in feel and tone thanks to a couple of issues of a more personal nature that are out the bounds of this piece. To sum up as succinctly as possible, phase one was my settling in to Blackpool and phase two is laying down the roots from which to sow over the next few years.
I STILL get odd people asking me the question : “why did you move to Blackpool?” and sometimes it’s asked in an incredulous way as if I was perhaps a little crazy to move here. The answer in its simplest form is because I am creative and I thrive around creativity and creative people. I visited Blackpool many times last year as I knew it was time for a change in my life and I could sense something in the air. I am further indebted to Jenny Rutter who during her time working as a creative director at LeftCoast graciously met with me and we discussed the local scene in depth and from Jenny I received many good pointers. Fact is, Blackpool is a lively place. There’s always stuff happening and I enjoy the whole seaside vibe, along with the fresh sea air... after all my previous home was on the outskirts of one of Britain’s worst polluted towns and I sure can feel the enormous difference. I also noticed whenever I would have to leave Blackpool, I would feel low... the feeling of standing in the queue in Blackpool North station, waiting for a train back to my previous home was depressing and whenever I returned to Blackpool, it felt more like “home” to me, so that combined with the creative factor was why I moved here. I have no intention of leaving either... as far as I’m concerned, I’m here to stay!
It’s been a pleasure getting to meet many of the local creatives and the realm in which I’ve mainly been focusing on - more by accident than design - is photography. It’s almost a year since I invested in a Nikon camera and as far as I’m concerned, I am still learning the ropes. I began posting photos on Instagram and the reaction was surprising and I guess, it’s built up from there. Over time I’ve been finding some kind of a voice as photographer through trial and error and in many ways it goes hand in hand with my fondness for walking... and I am blessed to be a pretty quick walker as well!
I must make a special mention of T-12 Body Transformations, a gym based in Marton. For years thanks to legal medication, I was overweight and deeply unhappy about it. In my third week living here, I decided to seek out a local gym since I realised if I was gonna have any kind of success, I would need help and join a gym. I looked around and liked what T-12 were offering and nervously signed the dotted line. I never thought for one moment I’d ever join a gym, let alone end up actually enjoying it, but strange things can and do happen so working with them has complemented the changes I’ve been going through perfectly. Walking is an important part of my regime, and Blackpool has plenty of pleasurable walks... sometimes I’ll take the camera along and... well, you know the rest. I recommend T-12 highly if you’re reaching a point where you’d like to deal with weight issues or undergo a good solid fitness regime. They’re an excellent solid team, very understanding and motivational.
I’ve been doing a lot of hands on research into what’s happening in and around Blackpool and on various levels, it’s pretty healthy and lively. The art and photography scenes are very strong and vibrant and the people creating this work are genuinely passionate about Blackpool and how it is viewed on a National basis. You know the cliches and assumptions about Blackpool and we need not repeat them here. There are a lot of talents working hard to help turn things around and I commend them all heartily and hope to be able to make my own contributions over phase two and beyond.
I am impressed by Melanie Whitehead and Kieran McGuiness’s “Electric Sunshine Project” who actively aim to stage intriguing events of a theatrical nature, encouraging people to engage with their creativity and I have been enjoying working with LeftCoast as one of their LeftCoast Makers volunteers - the Wordpool and Fleetwood Spare Parts Festivals were pure fun and joy to participate in.
However, I’m not too impressed when it comes to original music and the open mike nights. I typed up a lengthy discussion about my thoughts and feelings on that but decided to spare you from a dose of insomnia. The Blackpool live entertainment scene it goes without saying is very healthy BUT sorely lacking when it comes to actual originality. We have tons of karaoke, tribute acts and jukebox musicals to enjoy but original material? This summer I’ve been feeling a bit alienated as I can go and watch tribute stuff anytime but its very rare anything original pops up and that irritates me.
Blackpool as it currently stands is doing well and is actively working to try and change the commonly perceived cliches it has attached to it to make it ever more vibrant and welcoming. However, I really do think it’s time we put an end to this never ending 80’s nostalgia nonsense (for goodness’ sake, we’ve been inflicted with that for over 20 years) as I think that is definitely a part of the problem and a certain local radio station’s dreadful playlist has way too much 80’s for comfort. It’s little wonder that some accuse Blackpool of being in a timewarp and when I keep hearing 80’s music, it sure does feel like I’m stuck in one as I grew up in the 80’s. All those records have memories for me but I don’t wish to be reminded of school and teen days on a daily basis... Sure, Blackpool offers nostalgia from many eras but the 80’s are too dominant and I am sure that if it was toned down by 50%, we’d gradually see some major improvements not just for locals but tourists as well.
Thing is, I feel very passionate about encouraging new talents to indulge in their creative skills and at the moment, Blackpool is not ideal for performing original music. It’s brilliant if you wanna play covers or be a tribute act, but... this is an issue I am gonna try and start dealing with as I have some ideas which I think, and hope will not only help bring together artistes of all talents but also strengthen the local creative community as a whole.
All will be revealed very soon.
Essentially though I guess I just wanted to say I do love Blackpool and feel I am in the right place at the right time as things are stirring up and I’m looking most forward to seeing Brickbat Enterprises playing some part in what Blackpool will become.