Schools Back From Summer
End of the summer break, schools trickling back to a new term; the silly season for news ends, whilst parliament prepares to make news like never before.
MiDei Pa’am’s Maeve secures her job with Manny but continues her annual modest summer holiday in 1950’s Blackpool , then returns home to a new more sophisticated life .
1950’s holidays were simple affairs. Cheerful seaside destinations, a train or coach ride away, contrasting starkly with the industrial cities hailed from.
Factories, poleaxed by a mass exodus of workers, closed down ,rendering industrial cities ghost towns in ‘Wakes Weeks’.
The traditional postcards, assiduously written , featured photographs of the Golden Mile, the Tower , caricatures of over-large spotty-swim-suited ladies, reported the weather, comfort of beds and quality of food in accommodation, whilst ‘wishing you were here’.
Sandcastle competitions, charmed children armed with bucket and spades. Donkey races along Blackpool’s famous golden sands , long-looked-forward-to occasions, heralded by restless nights.
Well-prepared-for fancy dress competitions were judged by local celebrities taking time from end-of-pier appearances. My own treasured memory, recorded by a long-lost photograph, is of my five-year-old self dressed as Nell Gwynn, enchanted by a conversation with Coco the Clown; the echo of his warmth and specialness of the encounter has never left me.
Black and white photographs record the ubiquitous walk along the promenade in formal outfits . Men were smartly-suited even on the beach, concessions to the sun, sea and sand limited to unabashed rolled-up trouser legs, white handkerchiefs tied at four corners comedically worn in place of a cap or trilby , or tricorn-fashioned hats made from newspaper, none of which offered protection to sun-scorched skin.
Inebriated adults anarchically hogged undersized donkeys, inoffensive chaos ruled, kiss-me- quick hats underscored the allure of holiday romance, long-suffering parents were buried beneath sand, savouring the respite, whilst their children were gleefully occupied.
The mid-50’s, whilst still the heyday of the great British seaside holiday, come rain or shine, also saw the advent of the ‘continental’ holiday ; the more-affluent entertained with post-holiday exotic cine-films of sunny Spanish holidays , the usual destination of well-heeled Manny and Candace in MiDei Pa’am.
Travelling by plane was a luxury pastime , exclusively for those posh enough to afford it, a quality experience. Maeve’s new career launched her into a new era of ambiguous opportunity.
Fast forward to now, where affordable but frenetic air travel erroneously persuades us we are part of the jet-set; high-speed air-buses pollute the atmosphere taking us to exotic destinations in matters of hours, fulfilling expectations for wall-to-wall sunshine, and hotels lacking authenticity compete with the more modest lost innocence of the dependable Great British Seaside.
The precious 50’s battered, brown cardboard holiday suitcase faithfully stored to use each year, lacks the sophistication of its modern brightly coloured plastic counterpart, but it protected treasured memories , neatly packed socks , fragrantly placed soap , tattered and used superman comics, and endured despite its fragility.