Written by Jenny Eclair

Voices

Letter to my hometown: Lytham St Annes, I Salute You

Standard Issue writers are penning a letter to their hometown. Or, in the case of Jenny Eclair, a postcard.

photo (1) (1)Dear Lytham St Annes,

I’m writing you a postcard. A postcard from me, to you, about you. It may even have a picture of you on the front, probably of The Windmill, because that’s your best feature ever since your pier burned down. I still don’t get how that can happen, how come something that is basically standing in water burst into flames?

I used to work on that pier when I was a teenager, in the cafe, remember? I got sacked for being overly creative with my sandwich fillings. “Ham goes with pickle, Jenny, cheese goes with tomato, them’s the rules.” Ever the anarchist, I mixed those sandwich fillings up a bit – I may even have added lettuce.

Rats in the store cupboards, plink plinketty plink, bing-bang-bong of the slot machines, Chirpy-chirpy-cheep-cheep on a loop, the soundtrack to my 70s life.

“It’s as if sometime in the late 70s, you got all the most sensible heads in town together, all the tax inspectors, bank managers and golf club presidents and decided your future lay in being the antidote to Blackpool.”

I wasn’t born in Lytham St Annes but I was raised there, within a vinegary whiff of Blackpool, which sparkled naughtily in the distance. Bad girl Blackpool, home of tooth-rotting rock, promising all the excitement my parents didn’t want me to have.

To be honest LSA, you were a great nursery slope of a home-town, safe enough to come a cropper without doing too much damage, a good place for a middle class girl to dabble in slaggery and excessive cider drinking, rolling around in your sand hills with my tongue dyno-rodding some poor boy’s throat.

Now, this might come as a bit of a shock, but ever since I left you, I’ve been on umpteen better beaches, from Cornwall to Bondi. But only your stretch of muddy sands sports donkeys and for this I salute you. Also, I will always have a great deal of time for a place that lists crazy golf on their local cultural to-do list!

Ah but Lytham, you’re getting timid in your old age. Once upon a time you could water-ski on Fairhaven Lake. Not any more, you’ve gone all health and safety on me.

photo (2)You keep losing things, too. First the little rep theatre in Ashton Gardens where our Sara was an usherette, then the decent cinema, which you swapped for a crappy little box that doesn’t have magic colour-changing curtains. Your Lido, how could you bear to lose your Lido, you great dozy mare, you let your Lido go for a car park?

I despair and that’s why I had to leave you, because you decided to be as dull as you possibly could be. It’s as if sometime in the late 70s, you got all the most sensible heads in town together, all the tax inspectors, bank managers and golf club presidents and decided your future lay in being the antidote to Blackpool. Because you chose to play it respectable, I had to leave because you were making me itch.

So I went to Manchester and scratched that itch and then to London where I am still scratching, but where I have found my true home, in the stink and the wink of the London Eye, in the galleries and bridges among the towers and palaces, in the push and the shove of the capital.

But, although ‘Ich bin ein Londoner’, you made me Lytham, and while I will always live here, my heart and soul and comedy roots are yours. They belong to the North West coast, to the seaside postcard and the meat and potato pie of my youth.

So, laters Lytham, I’ll be up to see you soon, you and Mum and Dad and Aunty. I’ll bring my own sandwiches and they will have all the fillings, cream cheese, gherkin, salmon, black olives, rocket, lemon juice, loads of mayonnaise, oh yes and crisps.

Love and thanks xxxxxx

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Written by Jenny Eclair

Veteran comic, writer, diver, knitter (amateur) and South Londoner, v short sighted ( -5 left eye), HRT fan.