Day 32 of 32 – Thursday 2nd May – Election Day, Great Support, Ramonas Support even Life Support

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Arrived at St Kentigern’s at 7:30. It’s dry but chilly and the world of BRUNSWICK is slowly waking. The traffic steadily increases, the lollipop lady appears to tend her excited, youthful flock begins arriving at St Kentigern’s infant school about 8.00am.

The black suited man in tangerine and white tie with bright tangerine rosette is a source of fascination for the kids. Some point, some smile some even wave as parents, grand-parents and family friends  shuffle their cherubic charges to the school gates. 

A few explain to the little ones that the unfamiliar presence is ‘in the election’. This all brings back anxious childhood and happy parenting memories. Walking to St John Vianney’s as a 9 year old I remember the South Park Drive lollipop lady waving at a passing black car to a man who I’m sure was Jeremy Thorpe.

As the procession passes I exchange pleasantries with many of the smiling parents. The demographic is far more diverse than when I was a sprog, a sign of Wei Wei’s forever changing human flows.

On speaking with the three people on electoral duty we conclude the early morning turn out is even less than expected. No great surprise as like most working class towns Blackpool was almost 80% pro-Brexit and rightly sick to the back teeth the parlour games within the Westminster bubble. On the BRUNSWICK doorsteps over the past few weeks the responses are almost unanimous in condemnation of U.K. politics. Some say they will never vote again – what a sorry state of affairs our ‘elected representatives’ have created. Westminster politicians can’t handle democracy and they don’t understand the real world otherwise grim statistics such as 80% of the kids in this ward living in poverty would motivate them to turn things around. Instead the career politicians invade our TV’s 24.7 bickering amongst themselves whilst serving their party-political agendas – now more than ever the U.K. needs a grassroots revolution to kick Parliament in the teeth …. maybe it can start with Blackpool people sticking two fingers up to their local councillors – love the idea of a Blackpool Revolution.

It’s chilly and a bit weird stood like a lonely besuited Belisha Beacon waving to beeping cars on Newton Drive. Company soon arrives in the form of good friend and dedicated BST committee member Ray Gregson. Ray has been out canvassing a few times and has been a big part of the campaign. Recently retired, Ray throws himself into lots of great endeavours to support Blackpool FC and the local community. He would be a great asset to the Blackpool FC Community Trust so I wish him well with his application to become its BST liaison officer. 

As hours pass the walk-up to the polling station is low which for us INDEPENDENTS is encouraging as it means more demotivated Labour voters staying away. BRUNSWICK is Labour heartland taking in the old Layton flats and the arterial roads which link Devonshire Road to the town centre. Economically BRUNSWICK is a poor ward which deserves some proper T and C from its local politicians instead of brash statements telling people how great Simon Blackburn is FFS. It’s embarrassing reading their election paraphernalia and it’s no surprise that no party workers have even bothered to shown their faces by midday.

Running mate Gary Coleman is popping to Marton to give his wife Debbie a hand so I wander up to St Thomas’s Polling Station on Caunce Street. For Gary today, like most days I imagine, is very much a family affair. His daughter is helping her mum on the Stanley School Polling station and he returns with Mr and Mrs Ian Coleman senior so they can cast their vote. I’ve only met Ian on a couple of occasions and I can tell he is a raconteur. Ian is well known local man, ex-mayor, friend of the Hollywood and army veteran. I’m looking forward to reading volume 1 of his autobiography’From The Pit Bottom to the Stars’ which I bought a couple of weeks ago.

About 3:30 I had to abandon my post and head back to Rox Towers to get ready for a gig in Nantwich at The Salty Dog this evening. Tonight Matthew Litterbug are supporting The Ramonas – it’s just unfortunate that the gig, which was booked 6 months ago, clashes with polling day.

Quickly devour a microwave ping and ding dish of Swedish meatballs and sit down to catch up on a bit of S & M (social media). Needless to say the next thing I remember is a lesser spotted Diggleton shouting ‘Higgy ! Higgy !’ from the hallway. I’ve only been asleep 20 minutes but I feel like Rip Van Winkle waking from a 1,000 year slumber. It takes me a few minutes to remember who I am and where I am …. what I would give just to be able to crawl into bed now but instead I fumble around in a daze packing leads, pedals, tuners, t-shirts, chargers and guitars into the van.

We pick up Cas (drummer) and I’m on the phone solid until we hit the end of the M55. We’ve played with The Ramonas before (an all-female Ramones cover band who also do their own stuff) and plan on doing a cover of ‘Carbona not Glue’. It’s not the most famous Ramones’ track but a good ‘un nonetheless. We practised it last week with Cas swapping drums for guitar, Diggleton playing bass and me behind the drums – it should be fun.

The late shift – the Blackpool sun is shining on the righteous x

After a few wrong turns we reach Nantwich just in time for sound-check. We’ve played here before, it’s a craft pub / small venue – in terms of size think the No.10 Alehouse time’s 3 – with a great, friendly vibe. Unlike many venues we play it plays good music and serves great beer. Cas and I make a bee-line for the Titanic Stout.

The Ramonas – Capricorn, Aquarius, Taurus, Aquarius

Whilst quaffing a pre-gig ale backstage Herr Diggleton informs Cas and I that we are NOT ALLOWED to do Carbona Not Glue (FFS ?) and any talking between sounds IST VERBOTEN!!! We even perform an accapella version which gets the thumbs up from 2 of The Ramonas but Stuuuuart Fuhrer Diggleton is not for changing his mind. I shuffle sulkily off to the bar to recharge our glasses – the Titanic is off but we are saved with a coffee-flavoured Porter …. absolutely beautiful.

The stage is small and I nearly knock over the microphone with my bass headstock a few times during our set. As we had a soundcheck the mix is good and despite the glaring stage lights people seem to be enjoying it. A miserable short but overly serious set with minimal crowd interaction (despite my interventions) is the diktat from Uber-Meister Diggle of Dock Green. Not many listen when I protest that Cas and I are both victims of human slavery, forced to play Diggle’s songs all over the country for beer. As usual no one takes our plight seriously or bothers coming to our aid so we say our goodbyes and the cycle of abuse begins again.

The Ramonas sound great and Stuuuuuart even allows Cas and I to get on stage to provide some backing vocals. The girls launch in to ‘Carbona Not Glue’ and as we start singing he elbows me when I try to share his microphone – apologies, I almost forgot it’s the Stuart Diggle show. Only joking …

Pete Ridehalgh …… brother of Paul, father of Toby

By now the coffee-flavoured Porter has morphed into the marshmallow flavoured Stay Puft …. don’t mind if I do landlord. We sell no t-shirts and end up giving away a few free CD’s as we pack up the gear to head home to TGC. I’m dropped off at 1:30am … knackered and half-asleep. I read a couple of updates on S&M from the lads wishing me well when the election ballot boxes are opened in the morning.  I plug myself into my REM life support system and say Sweet Dreams World !

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