I had a drive over to Blackpool yesterday, dropping mater off at the home of long-standing close family friends – A clan who’ve been thick as thieves with my brood since meeting in their native Leeds in early 1960’s.
Although the tower town is a place I’ve not visited much in adulthood, it’s a domain that rekindles numerous fond memories from childhood. Times of sun, sand and sh***ing myself aboard the more intense Pleasure Beach rides.
In my fledgling years, a multitude of experiences on the ‘good times’ segment of my life’s canvas were created among Blackpool’s streets, tower and it’s trinity of piers. Happy days, forged with strong family, good friends, amusements, fish and chips (in the days seagulls let you eat them in peace) and it’s autumnal illumination of streets and trams.
Not to mention witnessing the pier shows performed by the likes of Charlie Cairoli, Ken Goodwin, Little Jimmy Clitheroe, Little & Large et al.
My mother is to spend her 2018 vacation with two long-term friends, who for the purposes of anonymity I’ll give the surname Ranby. Those companions the Blackpool family’s matriarch (Jacqueline) and patriarch (Jack).
Their destination Eastbourne – The English south coast resort which every year welcomes thousands of Brits in their dotage. A town boasting the UK’s highest total of incontinence pants worn per square mile, along with the countries second lowest number of original hip joints.
Although not related by blood, the existential ties between my clan and the Ranbys are so strong we Strachans class them as family. Apart from old Reg Ranby who in 1979, following an excessively aggressive Chinese burn, killed my sister Helen’s hamster (Tiddles)…… An incident devastating my sister, not to mention rendering Tiddles with the look of a furry pushbike grip.
Seeing his younger sibling so upset, my brother Ian swore ruthless revenge against the Ranby family. This he attempted to carry out in 1980 when, during an outer body experience on a family Blackpool visit to Jack and Jacqueline’s guest house, he rebelliously changed the ‘Vacancies’ sign to ‘No Vacancies’.
Our kid’s ruse backfired, though, when it turned out there actually wasn’t any room vacancies. The incorrect signage the consequence of an oversight by the busy Ranby clan….. So in effect my feckless brother did them a favour!
Yesterday evening my mater and I dined with four of the Ranby brood at a Fylde hostelry named The Shovels. A large, engaging tavern with a decent selection of ales and palatable cuisine, I was relieved to witness it’s name didn’t originate from the manner in which it’s patrons placed food into their mouths.
A good time was had by all of our party. The six of us reminiscing, recalling and recounting yarns from the six decades our two families had been acquainted…… As we felt we’d already undertaken too many activities beginning with the letter ‘r’, the group refrained from also indulging in recollecting and remembering.
The above monochrome snap from the mid-1960’s is a snap of myself (left) and David Ranby as toddlers when our parents were neighbours in Kirkstall, Leeds. Despite a look on my face to the contrary, I’m assured by my mum that I was enjoying that ice cream.
God only knows what visage I’d have pulled if I hadn’t liked it……. Although, that look probably goes some way to explain why I became Kirkstall’s Young Gurning Champion in 1965!