Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Go south, young man

Where dreams came true

This is Dreamland - or it was the land of dreams - before it was shut down and left to decay.

And where was this amusement park located? Well, the answer is Margate - a seaside town in Kent, which is now just falling apart at the edges and, like Dreamland, dead on its feet.

A small strip of sand, a cold sea and the smell of seaweed and fish and chips. Children screaming, dogs barking and drivers going around in circles, looking for somewhere to park their cars. Exhaust fumes, foul language and kids with only one thing in mind: to hell with the shops, just take me to Dreamland, PLEASE!

And so through the entrance and into the park, where the big wheel turns, the dodgems bump and the waltzer waltzes. Down comes the sun, up goes the noise and for one brief moment - too brief - you think that you're in another world. Then onto the slot machines, the bingo and the flashing lights. YES! You are in another world, and this world is called Las Vegas.

You fucking idiot! You are only ten and still in short trousers. You have never been to Las Vegas, you don't know it exists and you don't know where it is. This, my friends, is Margate - the most wonderful place in the world...

Paradise on the southeast coast of England? No! It never was and it never will be. It's just another town where, for an afternoon, the world seemed a better place to be.



"I've never been there before," you say, as you flick through your mind's photo album. "I've done Folkestone and Ramsgate, but I've never been there before," you add, hoping that it's true.
"Oh, it's wonderful," I say, as I see Kent disappear from sight in the rear-view mirror. "Shit now, but back then..."
"...come off here," you say, as you point at the overhead roadsign. "I want to go to Reading."
"Good God!" I reply, "I'd rather go to Folkestone."
"Take me to Reading, Swindon and Bristol, too..."
"It sounds like a song," I say, as we leave the M25 to join the M4.
"This IS fun!" you say, as we pass a sign for Slough.
"It sounds like a song and I need a drink," I say, as we continue on our way.

Tune in next week for another instalment of "An afternoon going nowhere."

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