I estimate that we went to Scarborough around 45 times a year as children. Judging by photos, we spent a lot of time running around on the beach naked, so perhaps this was to cut down on washing or clothing expenditure.
All I really remember of our trips as miniatures are watching the potential 2p avalanches fail to be realised, no matter how many smelly coins I pushed into the slots trying to win something half the value of the pocket money I would be prepared to pay for it under normal circumstances.
That, and crabsticks. I like to think they were ‘real’ crabsticks that we used to get when we were kids, but in reality I suspect the only difference was that the law hadn’t yet required them to be labelled: ‘One time, someone took a crabstick through Scarborough on an open-top bus, pointed it at the sea and said ‘that’s where crabs live’, and then brought it back to the supermarket so it could tell all the other crabsticks about it. And that is the closest that these crabsticks have ever been to a crab.
NB: It might not even have been Scarborough, it might have been a postcard with a photo of Scarborough. Scarborough, Pennsylvania’
Anyway, rather than being violently bored with the shabby seaside resort by now, we continue to love it, and use any excuse to go there. The latest excuse being my sister’s birthday.
Clare booked accommodation at a typically Scarborough guesthouse called Granville Lodge – a large, cheap and cheerful place, every cranny having had a mattress and a kettle squeezed into it to validate it as a bedroom. Granville is a Kinder Surprise hotel, offering no consistency whatsoever in size, shape and decor of rooms – you just pay, open it up, and see what you get.
What we got this time were two beds between five people, with the explanation that the double bed in the room for three was ‘really big, you could have a party in there’ (which we took as permission).
Luke and I were expecting two single beds but got a double – luckily this had been made ok already as he’d helped me move house some months before, and we’d managed to sleep on the same square of sponge without getting germs from each other.
Scarborough has kindly refused to change in any way since I was 7, not so much as a lick of paint; some of the grabby machines have still got the same toys in them that my mum tried to win ‘for the kids’ at the time.
The experience of going to Scarborough has changed quite a lot though, because we can now go there and do things we could never do when we were underage. That’s right, I’m talking about ingesting the falling-over juice to the loud noises in the dark rooms.
Our favourite dark room is a place called Boleyn’s – a club we found once by accident, which opens at midnight, and can only be entered by first drinking a free shot of liquid looked to have been milked from a glowstick, and then walking through a metal detector. I think that’s all you need to know about Boleyn’s. Which is good, because that’s all I can remember.
This time we were the first in the queue, and the door staff were extremely suspicious at the sight of five sober people waiting to get into the place, let alone the fact that we seemed to be really excited about it. I think they were close to turning us away on that basis, and were particularly stringent with the ID check. It was reminiscent of the time I approached Flares in Leeds and the doorman suggested I didn’t bother, which I thought meant I wasn’t allowed, until he said “No, I just mean it’s awful, you don’t want to go in there”. I did though, and it was great. So was Boleyn’s.
The next morning we were all relieved to find that my sister had lost her voice because she’d been screaming at the DJ all night to play One Direction, too pissed to realise it was being played at regular half-hour intervals.
Due to her decreased ability to scare wildlife in such a fragile and near-silent state, we decided a trip to the Sealife Centre wouldn’t prove too risky to the ecosystem. There we met a turtle with brain damage who needed to be prevented from eating everything in sight (which my sister empathised with); and, due to a misreading, some sea slags (sadly not mermaids).
Myself and Luke then spent an unreasonable amount of time and money trying to win a keyring from one of the 2p machines. I wanted it because there was a cheesy photo of a lady on it, wearing too much make-up and some dreadful 90s clubwear, which I had decided was the only remaining legacy from the once promising career of an aspiring young model, and that at least if I won it and used it every day then it wouldn’t all have been for nothing. It was only about £4 into trying to win it that we realised it was Katy Perry, and abandoned the mission.
It’s my birthday soon, and I’m already thinking about going back for the Chuckle Brothers season.