Buckets, spades, and making the most of ‘under happier circumstances’

A visit to the seaside put me in mind of the wonderful daytrips of yesteryear. I’m writing this on my first day back to work after a lovely week off.
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I spent most of it in Withernsea, a small seaside resort on the East coast just north of Hull. It has beautiful clean beaches stretching for miles in either direction – not a place for a rowdy hen or stag weekend but ideally placed for families of any age.

It was a reminder of the numerous day trips spent with family and friends and memories of seemingly endless hours on a coach trying to suppress the ‘are we there yet? question and continually trying to spot the sea.

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Who remembers the trips to Blackpool when you’d spot Emley Moor tower in the distance and wonder why you couldn’t see the sea? Only to realise it wasn’t Blackpool Tower. I was always fascinated by the driver – driving all that way without once looking at a map or piece of paper. Even more amazing, I couldn’t wait to get on the sand and sea yet he’d go for a kip on the back seat as soon as we got there. We’re at the seaside man, what’s wrong with you? It was probably one of the few times you’d spend with family for such a long period of time or at least while everyone was in such good spirits.

People relaxing on the beach in Brighton in1975. Image: John Minihan/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesPeople relaxing on the beach in Brighton in1975. Image: John Minihan/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
People relaxing on the beach in Brighton in1975. Image: John Minihan/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Also there were the club trips from the various Working Men's Clubs (WMCs) in the city. Sandwiches, pop, bag of crisps and the brown envelope with a crisp £5 note in it. Brilliant, I felt like a millionaire. Best of all … no adult supervision.

I tried to replicate these trips in recent years, thought it would be a good idea to get family and friends together for a trip to the seaside – just ‘ike we all used to crave. Surely it was a no brainer and everyone would be up for it,? Alas my enthusiasm and idea was misplaced. Where I thought friends and family would love to spend time together and be up for it, in fact I found the opposite. They came up with every excuse under the sun for not going.

Clearly, many have moved on from the day trip to the coast and instead opt for a couple of weeks in Spain, France or any other far flung parts of the world ... ever more exotic than your friend’s last holiday. Quite the opposite to two weeks in SkegVegas as it’s now referred to by most.

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I wasn’t saying a coach trip instead of a foreign holiday – it was just an opportunity to see family, for cousins to see cousins and nephews and nieces to aunts and uncles. Not a punishment but a treat.

I was lucky enough not to lose anyone in my family or close friends right up to being 25. Since then I’ve lost too many. I’ve been to countless funerals over the years, all following a very similar format. Funeral service, internment then wake. At the wake we proceed to give the best send off we can. After a few drinks we start to reminisce with friends and family about various events and it soon turns into a really good time with belly laughs instead of tears. It is all about reconnecting with long lost family and friends. But at the end of the night, is it all ‘we must do this again but under happier circumstances’.

There’s nowt as queer as folk. Must it always be a funeral for us to spend time together? ‘Under happier circumstances’ would be better. You’d also have one extra guest on that trip too.