Memories can be a blessing or a curse, and my memories of Morecambe’s West End are both.
Once upon a time, long, long, ago I ventured regularly from my home in central Morecambe to the West End. Tip-tap went my shoes across the hard, wooden floors at the Glenville Dancing Academy. The grit of floor dust clinging to my hands and feet as I practised dance steps, smooth, round wood under my palms through the tedium of barre exercises. Leotards and greasepaint, lunches of ham and crisp butties, camaraderie between classes.
And then there was the flip side.
Visits to the dentist also took me to the West End. Whining drills and white knuckles. Pain, spit, blood. Followed by a visit to the sweet shop across the road, the promise of rainbow drops and white chocolate razzles mitigated the fear, sugar has always been my friend in times of darkness.
There are other memories from my mum, memories she tells me of the days she worked in a hotel in the West End, the regular yearly visitors. My only memory connection is through a photo of me being held by my mum together with a group of older seaside visitors arrayed in front of the hotel bow window, flowers hanging from hooks and smiles on everyone’s faces. Ah them were the days. Morecambe’s heyday, the early 70s before package holidays and the promise of warmer sunshine beckoned the hordes elsewhere. It’s sad to think that me and my mum are the only ones posing in the picture who are still alive. Countless happy memories removed by death.
It’s so easy to look back on those days, when hotels were full of holidaymakers and shops were thriving and the West End was a vibrant community, so easy to look back and wish for those days again. Wish for everything to be as it was.
Yet that wish will never be granted, and it shouldn’t be. Yes, it is wonderful to look back at our younger days with nostalgia and idealism, and hope for this to return. However, we cannot live those days over, but we can create something better, building on what was, learning from mistakes. Greet newcomers and match their enthusiasm for all that Morecambe and the West End could be.
Those days of tap dancing and toothache are far behind me, and I recognise them for what they were, good times and bad, a part of my life, experiences that shaped me. Yet they are there, they had their place in time and now we should find new times to celebrate our lives and community and create a sunshine future for the West End.