Growing up in Blackburn, I used to think, wasn’t that great. I used to long to get away from it, from the area, which was one reason why I decided to go to Uni. in Wales. But having come to Wales, and last year living with a bunch of Southerners, I began to realise that Blackburn isn’t that bad.
I remember when I was younger, maybe early teens, and we, the whole street really, or rather all the young people on the street, in the warm summer months, would all play scatter somewhere on our street (a cul-de-sac). Sometimes it would be at a lamp post in the street, other times at a tree in our garden. We have 3 trees at the bottom of our garden, or rather we had at the time. Dad had put a rope across linking the three, but I could only ever climb one. On the other he put a rope ladder, and once, and only once, if memory serves me correctly, did I manage to get all the way across. When playing scatter once, in our garden, was the middle tree used, and whilst someone counted to 100 and everyone went to hide, no one thought of looking up the tree, on the ropes where someone was hiding (it was either Michael or Andrew our next door neighbour, I can’t remember which). Anyway, when the person counting had gone to look for us hiding, the person up the tree quietly waited until they everyone had been got, the touched the tree and shouted ‘Free All’ thus enabling us to all go free.
I think part of the reason I wasn’t keen on Blackburn was that there wasn’t an awful lot of stuff to do. Me and Dad used to help out on the paper caper on a Saturday, but this as not every week, and the most exciting thing that happened on that was when I got bitten by a dog and had to go to A & E to get it looked at, and to be honest, that wasn’t that exciting, and even if it was, I was in too much pain to notice.
When I was still at primary school, and this must’ve been in the early - mid nineties, it snowed, and pretty heavily too. It had snowed in the evening, and before going to bed I remember looking out at what seemed like blizzard conditions and looking at all the snow falling. The next morning I was up early to help Michael with his paper round, and opening the front door, I fell flat on my face, not realising there was a mound of snow outside the door up to my knee height. It was dark when we headed out, and I don’t remember much of the round itself, other than we went round Kentmere estate, I think. But school was shut that day, as the boiler was broken, something that only happened in total a couple of times, before they got a new one and it stopped breaking. We would listen to the radio, but I don’t think school was mentioned or if it was we didn’t hear it I don’t think. I remember Michael Dixon or his mum ringing up and asking/telling us about it. Anyway I think we went to school for some reason, but ended up at my aunty Mary’s (this may be another time the boiler was broken). But the canal was frozen, which was a novel experience, and we went to her house, she lived off Livesey Branch Road near the canal.
It’s only after moving away to go to university, that you actually realise that, no Blackburn is not perfect, far from it, but in all honesty, it’s not that bad. And I think I can appreciate it more now, especially since I’m a history student, and Blackburn is full of it.
There was a time my brother kicked me in the head (accidentally) as we were hiding in these concrete slab things on the playing field at the bottom of Feniscliffe Drive (it was my cousin’s confirmation/holy communion at the time). And another time when, at primary school I got stabbed in the head with a pen, and I had a little black dot in the centre of my forehead for months afterwards.
But also, there is Arts in the Park, first in Corporation park, and now in Witton Park, where bands and an orchestra (in my opinion the best night) play over the two days various tunes. The orchestra, always the last act on a Sunday night, play well known tunes like the Dambusters, they’ve played Star Trek theme tune before, Thunderbirds, last year they even played the Raiders march. They also play well known classical songs, and usually end with a rendition of Pomp and Circumstance, amongst others, before the fantastic firework display occurs. Usually, though not always, the weather is nice, and people lounge around listening to to the music in the afternoon, before being invigorated by the evening music. There are other events on during the days too, though I remember these less well.