Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Election fever (a distinct lack of)

We had a trip out to Southport on Sunday, to take in the sea air but mostly to ride Roller coasters.

Pleasureland Southport is ran by the Blackpool Pleasure Beach Company, although it is definitely small beer compared to their main park (which you can actually see from Southport if it isn’t too misty).

Their signature ride is the TraumaTizer, a suspended coaster where you sit on seats which hang from the track above with your legs dangling. I managed to ride it twice, once by myself and a second time with Karen and David (although we were split up to ride together, me near the front, David & Karen towards the back).

The coaster train has 16 seats with eight rows of two & can run two trains when it is busy but was only running one on Sunday. The seats have over the shoulder restraints (dog collars) and you certainly need them as there are several inversions. The ride is reasonably short, fairly intense & surprisingly smooth, provided you keep your head back against the cushion to avoid head banging. The Arabic theming stops at the station, it is hard to decide on a theme for 100+ tons of steel so “Pepsi Max Big One” colours are used, red track and blue supports.

Pleasureland is a nice little park but not really worth a repeat visit more than once every few years, unless you live in the area. It is also rather expensive- £18 for an all-day wristband (although we did get 10% discount for having BPB passes). We also rode their Woodie “The Cyclone”, it is respectable but not particularly remarkable. What is rather remarkable, however, is a massive Caterpillar ride some sixty feet in diameter, complete with green crinkled canvas that flips over shortly after it starts. This is a very old ride and possibly came from Coney island.

Something else not worth a repeat ride is their wild mouse ride, which was originally from Morecambe Frontierland and is themed like a mine train. This is rough as a badger’s nether regions & the bottom of the lift hill when the chain catches is enough to cause bruises to the back and hips. It isn’t as intense as Blackpool’s wild mouse but it is a lot more unpleasant.

One thing that did surprise us was David’s bravado- or rather lack of it. There is a short walk-through called the “haunted inn” that David sent me through to check it out first. I found it benign but disorienting as there isn’t a straight horizontal or vertical in the place. I had warned David that there were some skeletons inside & he went in but as he got near the entrance he suddenly burst into tears and turned tail. We eventually encouraged him through but he didn’t like it at all. However, he took the TraumaTizer completely in his stride later on. As the ‘merkins would say, “go figure”.

Back to the election, on the way into (& out of) Southport, a large number of houses had some particularly large signs for candidates, particularly a Mr. Pugh from the Lib-Dems. Contrast this with Morley, when up until late last week, the only signs I had seen in people’s windows were at Unity Hall, home of the Labour Party and Colin Challen’s constituency office. Large green Finnigan (Independent) signs appeared on the major grass verges in the area late last week, and by Monday, Labour signs had been pinned up (very high) on Telegraph Poles in the Ardsley area. I’ve now seen five houses with window signs (all Labour) on my typical travels around the town so the campaign is starting to move up a gear, but there mostly seems to be indifference. A trip up Churwell Hill this afternoon shows some enthusiasm in that area, there are a few Finnigan signs in gardens there. Labour have also been a bit naughty- they have fixed signs to lamp posts in the area, as well as the hill down to Morley Bottoms. It is forbidden by the Council but I guess they are willing to take the chance, albeit a foolish one, they know the rules and seem willing to risk being fined.

Of course, it is a conceit for anyone to think that putting up a sign in their window will sway anyone else into voting for someone in particular, although I suppose it is one way of keeping the canvassers at bay (not that any have knocked at my front door).

Our polling station portacabin has arrived in Glen Road so provided that none of the five actually keels over in the next two days, we will be able to exercise our democratic right in the usual manner.

It will soon be election day, the polls will close, all the votes will have been counted & there will inevitably be one or two small surprises here and there but probably not a big surprise. Then we can all go back to another five year sentence of hard labour…

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