My Dad wasn’t ever one to indulge in holidays of any kind. He was a day-tripper, a home-bird who had to be back in his own bed each night - another of the traits we share. It was therefore a big surprise when he announced out of the blue that we were going to Blackpool for the September weekend.
We got the midnight train from Glasgow Central because my mum and dad were working and didn’t finish until around 5 pm. The train was very busy and so rowdy: everyone seemed to be drunk, and there was lots of singing and dancing going on. None of us slept a wink. My dad wasn’t too chuffed about it, to say the least.
When we eventually arrived in Blackpool, it was bouncing down and blowing a gale – normal for Blackpool really. Well, my dad had already had enough, and he announced, ‘That’s it. We’re not staying in this dump. We’re getting back on the train, and we’re going home.’ We were all in tears, and my mum said, ‘No chance. You can go back if you want, but we’re not.’ We left the station and headed to the boarding house, and we didn’t see Dad until 4 am. the next morning. He hadn’t got back on the train, but had ended up at Yates’s Wine Lodge, and then he couldn’t find the accommodation!
On the Saturday, we had a busy timetable of events and places to go. Dad wanted to make sure we saw and did everything that was on offer, so we got the horse and cart to the Pleasure Beach. My dad loves the prize stalls in any fairground. He always had to win a coconut – although I don’t know why as he never ever ate them. He paid for his shot, got the balls and started throwing them at the cans. He did it with so much vigour that he demolished the display, and the poor stallholder was lying on the ground, curled up for his own safety. With the last ball to be thrown, Dad lost his balance and fell inside the stall… on top of the man! It was mayhem, but it was hilarious. The stall-owner got up, and he said, ‘I give up. Just take whatever you want.’ So Dad got three coconuts and a teddy. He was so happy, and he loved that teddy, so much so that, a few years later, when he realized it had gone missing and that my sister, who was looking for extra pocket-money, had sold it at her jumble sale, he went mad and made her go back to the person who had bought it to buy it back.
Later, we went into a dungeon-type attraction, all eerie and dark. As my mum walked past a gorilla sitting on a chair, it nipped her backside. She screamed and ran out to the pavement outside. My dad ran after her to find out what had happened. He said, ‘Don’t be silly. That’s a stuffed gorilla. Just come back in.’ But Mum insisted it was real, so Dad took her by the hand and said, ‘Come with me, and I’ll show you.’ He booted the gorilla in the shin, and it screamed out loud, and it (or the man inside) was jumping up and down holding his leg. My poor mum got off her mark, and she wouldn’t come back in after that; her nerves were shattered.
We spent the rest of the weekend meeting people from Port Glasgow – typical. It turned out to be a laugh-a-minute weekend with just a few scares, like the time Dad decided he wanted to take Mum on the Mad Mouse. Dad wasn’t even sitting down when the carriage moved off. I couldn’t look; I thought, ‘He’s going to get thrown to his death.’ It was awful. Mum came off with her hair all over the place and whiplash; she was raging and telling Dad, ‘Never again!’ Then, on the day we were heading to get the train back home, Dad said, ‘I’ll take all the luggage and go for a pint first, then meet you all at the station.’ We got there, and no sign of Dad. Fifteen minutes before the train was due to leave, Dad turns up – but no cases! My mum was so angry and annoyed about it. Dad said he must have left them in Yates’s, so my mum and I legged it as fast as we could, very nearly getting hit by a car in the rush. Luckily, the cases were still lying in the pub, but covered in vomit – disgusting. We got on the train with seconds to spare: a miracle.
That was our first and last holiday to Blackpool together, and one thing is for sure: it was the adventure of a lifetime!