Lost in Blackpool
When I was a litde boy in the 1920s our family always went to Blackpool on holiday. Everyone did. Even a family which went to Morecambe was considered to be getting a bit above itself, and if they went to Bournemouth or Torquay, they were looked upon as the jet set are today.
I loved Blackpool and would not have gone anywhere else, as there was so much to see and do. The tramcars were romantic galleons, much more exciting than the old tubs which trundled around the streets of Bolton, and ran on proper railway tracks through the quiet open countryside north of Bispham. Cleveleys was a remote frontier post, with miles to go before you reached distant Fleetwood.
One year I lost every penny of my year’s holiday savings – four shillings – playing on pinball machines on the first day of the holiday, and was broke for the rest of the fortnight – an experience which put me off gambling for life, but did not alter my love for Blackpool…
One very hot day in 1927 (I was six) my parents were sitting on the beach near the North Pier and I was playing in the sea. I set off back to them, turned south instead of north, and made for Central Pier. It seemed a long way and, of course, there were no parents anywhere near it when I got there, so I carried on towards a pier in the distance, but when I reached South Pier I’d run out of piers and still hadn’t found my Mum and Dad.
Now scared and very tired, I walked about in the unheeding crowd until two kind elderly ladies (actually they were young women in their early thirties) stopped me and asked: “Are you lost, love?”. They took me to their boarding house, gave me lemonade and biscuits and rang the police.
I’d been missing for five hours, but was soon re-united with a stem but worried father and a weeping mother. I spent three days in bed with sunstroke and legs too badly burned to walk upon.
Seventy years later, if I park in a strange town I always take careful note of some prominent landmark to locate myself upon return, but I would never use a pier as a pinpoint! Piers move about too much!
I spent six years in the RAF during the war, but not as a navigator, obviously,