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funland

funland

Southport is a very nice place. It’s full of perky floral displays, twirly arcades and leafy boulevards. Its sand dunes and pinewoods are home to some of the UK’s few remaining red squirrels and natterjack toads. Southport is a very nice place. Southport is a very dull place.

This town holds lots of childhood memories for Tamsin. She used to go to Wayfarer’s Arcade to see the statue of Red Rum and get candy canes. The now closed-down Pleasureland theme park was an exotic summer destination for Lancashire teenagers. Formby Sands stretched for miles, littered with dead crabs, babies dummies and other detritus. There was sand, sand, sand, sand, but there was never any sea. And perhaps that’s the problem with Southport – as the sea drags further and further away, like a wounded war hero, limping home to Mother, the town becomes ever more domesticated and smug. A seaside resort needs the sea to give it a tang of danger. Unless you get on the wrong side of a premiership footballer in one of the town’s nightclubs, in Southport, there’s no danger. Just pretty flowers. And a museum of lawnmowers.

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Sadly the lawnmower museum was closed on the day the Lost Prom visited. So we started our journey on the pier. Southport pier is the longest overland pier in Britain, and passes over an ornamental pool, a major road junction, a skateboarding ramp, a Super Bowl, a multiplex cinema and a Matalan before you get even a whiff of the sea. At one end there’s an amusement arcade called Funland with a free Hall of Mirrors. A mirror called ‘the fairest of them all” made Nhung and Tamsin look like even more misshapen versions of the dwarf in ‘Don’t Look Now’. “It doesn’t seem to do anything”, remarked Hannah, sister of the Lost Prom innocently.

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As we meandered along, Nhung would occasionally crouch down on the tram rails as if listening for distant horses hooves. But it turned out she was taking pinhole photographs. She also snapped some passing teenagers. “Why do you want to take our picture?” they asked. “I’m an artist” was Nhung’s reply. And the words “I’m an artist”, echoed down the pier in mocking tones, as the teens sashayed away.

Why do you want to take our picture?

"Why do you want to take our picture?"

At the end of the pier, there’s a collection of Victorian slot machines that take old pennies. We had our fortune told by Madame Zasha, found the Haunted Churchyard a disappointment and discovered that “What the Butler Didn’t See” was just some jiggling around with a towel. After all the excitement, we decided to sit down for a cup of tea in the café. ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ was playing, followed by the Postman Pat theme. Consequently we had Postman Pat in our heads all the way back along the pier, and tried, with meagre success to turn it into a round.

Waiting

Waiting

A disappointing meal was had in Rich’s Ice Cream Parlour and Coffee Shop – our food took ages and was nothing to blog home about. Tamsin had also got into a bit of a sulk because the others didn’t wait for her while she was browsing in a shop. But we finished the day on a high in Parkinsons’ Books, a labyrinth-like second-hand bookshop, in which Nhung found a beautiful old photo album and nearly caused us to miss our train as she tried to choose her favourite Victorian visiting card. “Don’t say Northerners are stupid because I sold you this so cheap”, said the owner, when Nhung told him about our blog.

Surprisingly for a Sunday, the charity shops were open, and even more surprisingly, offered up a decent haul. There’s a shop that sells “Ice Cream, Sweets, Chocolate and Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks” and a shop in Wayfarer’s Arcade called “Glitz Ritz and Tiaras”. And, oh what an endless stream of beautiful buildings. Actually, despite the sniffy intro Tamsin still loves Southport, it’s just that her other Lost Prom- rades didn’t take to it. Yes, it’s prosperous and pleased with itself, but hey, it’s a nice place. And sometimes there’s nothing wrong with visiting a nice place. Just for one day though. Soft feather pillows can smother you as well as comfort you.

bumper boats of fun

bumper boats of fun

On the train back, a hairy, leather-clad biker offered Hannah’s baby Eve (a Lost Prom niece) a bag of marshmallows. It seems even the bikers in Southport are soft and fluffy.

And we still had the Postman Pat theme in our head.

Lost
Pleasureland
Decent food
Cake (again)
Pennies in the arcade
Found
White-tailed eagle RSPB badge
Victorian photo album
Victorian carte de visite
Bright yellow 80s Adidas tracksuit top
Silver cufflinks
Baseball mitt
Art deco style silver ring with green stone
Red cardigan jacket
‘Anne’s House of Dreams’– follow-up to Anne of Green Gables
70s black, beige and red floral jersey dress
Wizard of Oz mug
Book called ‘Accessories Chic’

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