Has anyone else noticed that their newsfeed, once graced with wholesome footage of people hitting pots and pans in honour of our carers, has now been replaced with more dubious (albeit joyful) images of sunseekers drinking Blossom Hill on Southend beach?
The midweek heatwave led thousands of people to Britain’s coastal towns, which in turn meant hundreds of cameramen flocked to the seaside to capture the carnage.
No lockdown gathering is complete without a camera crew, poised to catch the most ‘crowdiest’ crowd shot for the six o’clock news. Unlike his hero predecessor, I bet Boris never expected us to fight him on the beaches.
Although I too have been shocked to see so many flouting lockdown rules by ignoring the two metre social distancing measures, it actually gave me great pleasure to see people flocking to the seaside once more, if a little prematurely.
This week, 2020 could have been mistaken for 1920, with deckchairs strewn across the sand with a stream of brightly coloured swimming costumes getting their first outing of the season.
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Whether it be VE day celebrations, Boris’ Churchill-esque speeches, or literally anything Sir/Captain/Colonel/Saint Tom Moore does… we have been reminded of the ‘Great British spirit’ on many an occasion over the last two months.
There’s no doubt that lockdown, with all its wartime rhetoric, has brought out a bit of patriotism in many of us, and what could be greater or British-er than a trip to sunny Blackpool? Although we’ve also been reminded by our very own Home Secretary this week that being British also requires you to earn over £25k (rule Britannia, etc).
My cynicism over what it means to be a Brit aside, I predict this positive boost to our neglected coastal economies could make our British seaside great again.
I was born and raised in Blackpool and my family make traditional seaside rock for a living. I feel passionately about my hometown and its representation. If you cut off my arm it would have the word ‘Blackpool’ running through it, and I’ve spent the last 10 years advocating for the town and its residents.
Our seaside towns, whose economies are so dependent on tourism, buckled under the popularity of package holidays in the late 90s, as Brits opted for a week in Malaga over Skegness.
Towns which were designed for the sole purpose of accommodating swathes of tourists have been practically abandoned by those for whom they were built.
Blackpool gets a hard time from those so preoccupied with the riches-to-rags narrative of the resort that they ignored Blackpool’s rise from the ashes in recent years.
‘Blackpool Week’ is the jewel in the Strictly Come Dancing Crown. The Tower Ballroom is a 19th Century marvel that oozes glamour and sophistication, yet the the spotlight is more often focused on the areas of the town worst affected by poverty – thereby feeding the cycle as Blackpool’s image gets tarnished, and visitors are put-off.
They needn’t be. Thanks to government funding schemes and new town deals, Blackpool has had the leg up it needed to regain its reputation as a top tier family resort.
We have a world class theme park, sandy beaches, the Tower, the Ballroom, a new 5-star hotel, as well as the best drag venue on the planet: Funny Girls.
I know I’m biased, but after years of watching my hometown go through her very own glow-up, I can only hope that others get to see her in full bloom.
We are about to hit the biggest recession the country has seen for over 300 years, which means many people won’t be able to afford to go abroad for an annual holiday. Even if you can afford to fly, options are limited, and come with uncertainties over insurance cover for Covid.
If I can look for a golden lining to this pandemic, I hope it’s our beaches. I hope people continue to appreciate what our own little island has to offer, and keep up their visits to the coast long after coronavirus has passed. Our seaside is for life, not just for lockdown.
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