Yesterday we went to Blackpool.
For non-UK readers, Blackpool is one of this fair isle’s much-loved/avoided traditional seaside resorts.
‘Resort’ is a canny noun in this instance, as Blackpool fulfills both uses of the word; being a place where people gather for rest and recreation and also the last place you would ever choose to go to for the purposes of rest and recreation.
Blackpool and I have much in common: we are both of us striving for glamour but unavoidably drawn to a trashy appearance, adorning ourselves with the gaudiest of shizzle; we both suffer the same compulsion to offer cheap entertainment in a screechy show-offy styley; and we are both permantly emitting a background aroma of fags and fried food.
At this time of year, Blackpool moves from being a bit sparkly/tacky into a full-on cabaret extravaganza of neon sparkle. They call this the Blackpool Illuminations.
For 66 days from early September to November, a time when most seaside resort seasons are coming to an end, the Blackpool seafront is drenched in artificial light.
First staged in 1879, twelve months before Edison’s electric lightbulb came into being, the promenade was bathed in the light of eight carbon arc lamps. Now the display is six miles long, includes over one million lightbulbs and costs £1.9million to stage.
But the reason remains the same; to extend the summer season by keeping the promenade open, to face-off the gathering chill and dark of winter by wrapping the seafront in warmth and light.
I can confirm that it was NOT warm. I can also confirm that it is a FULL six miles long because we were the aresholes who got dropped off a coach at one end and picked up again at the other…
But I can also confirm that standing under such beaming light when the dark is encroaching is a rather wonderful thing.
I don’t want to stretch the metaphor too far, (I don’t want to, but I will) but when your own darkness is threatening to suffocate you, it sometimes works to seek a little artificial light. It might be a (prescription) pill or a good movie or performing a stand-up comedy show.
That artificial light won’t keep the dark at bay forever, but if you stand in it for long enough, feeling the warmth of it and how it illuminates the darkest corners, you might be able to believe that the sun is still out, and you can find it again if you keep your eyes open to it…
Also, do not go to Blackpool without a mobility scooter. No matter how glorious that illuminated promenade may be, by the time you’ve walked the full six miles of it, you will happily smash every single Edison-invented lightbulb to pieces with the light-saber you bought your kid for seventeen thousand pounds from a street-vendor which broke on the coach on the way home.
No artificial light can burn bright forever…