Just back from yet another of Pontins Gold breaks for the over-50s, with my mother who’s well over 50 at 96. This was at their Pakefield, Lowestoft holiday center.
It was an enjoyable week as usual, and we have already booked for their Mistletoe and Wine week in November. I also go to this Pontins holiday center for the Wildest Cats In Town rock’n'roll weekenders in July and December.
It is a very pleasant center, the only drawback being it is impossible for the disabled or wheelchairs to get down to the beautiful beach. There is a steep, very rough path which has recently been slightly improved, but still totally unsuitable for wheelchairs.
A lift down to the beach would be very useful. At present for elderly and disabled guests the Pakefield camp might just as well be in Hyde Park, London. You can only see the sea in the far distance, unless you take the bus (or car) into Lowestoft or some other nearby resort. The Pakefield beach is inaccessible.
Another idea would be to build something on the golf course much nearer to the cliffs, such as a bar or a new restaurant. If the building was two or three stories you could then see the beach from the building. A balcony would allow elderly and disabled guest to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the sea. Now Britannia have taken over Pontins perhaps they’ll consider something like this.
The number of guests was way down on previous years, not surprising in view of the fact that Pontins were in Administration for much of the Winter and people would have been reluctant to book holidays with them.
The entertainment was good as usual, as were the meals. Graham Henry, the chief Bluecoat, celebrated 45 years at Pakefield while we were there.
While we enjoyed the week, and apart from the inaccessibility of the beach, I do have a few complaints. One is the meal times – all far too early and too close together. Breakfast was 8am-9am. Needless to say neither I nor my mother ever managed to make breakfast. Lunch was 12 noon till 1pm, and dinner 5pm till 6pm. I suggest breakfast should be at least till 10 am, lunch 1-2pm and dinner around 7-8pm. The evening Bingo session should be held before dinner. The present arrangement means we always miss breakfast, there is little time to go anywhere between lunch and dinner, we are not really hungry by dinner time but are very hungry by the time the evening’s entertainment is over. Didn’t help that the cafe’s fridge was out of order and the choice of late-night snacks was very limited.
Graham Henry is a great entertainments manager and congratulations on 45 years, even if some of his jokes have been told for almost as long. However his penchant for promoting jingoism and patriotism is getting very wearing. For the third or fourth time he enlisted his young Bluecoats to don military uniforms, wave various UK flags (though it was amusing to see yet again the Republican Irish tricolor represented Northern Ireland!) and sing various jingoistic songs and anthems.
As if this wasn’t enough, he yet again praised British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan – conflicts and occupations many people totally oppose. Two million of us marched against the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and many against the Afghanistan conflict. Some of us feel any world policing should be done by a United Nations security force, not by countries like Britain and USA whose motives are extremely suspect (to grab the oil?) I’m all for supporting the British troops by bringing them home. Plenty of things for them to do here such as helping our police keep teenage knife and gun gangs off the streets and perhaps putting them into boot camps or some sort of community service to learn respect for other citizens.
In addition to all this, yet again Graham read out the poem which seems like a party political broadcast for the United Kingdom Independence Party, or more likely the English National Party. Celebrating being English and St George (who was apparently Albanian or something similar) is fine, but do we really need the anti-EU propaganda shoved down our throats yet again? (This is not the first time I’ve heard Graham read out this obnoxious poem.) This time he even gave printed copies away to the 100% white audience, many of whom seemed to be politically slightly to the right of Atilla the Hun.
The poem stated that we are not Europeans, Europe being miles away across the sea. Of course we’re Europeans, and should be proud to be so. We are now joined physically by the Channel Tunnel, so Paris and Brussels are but a couple of hours or so away by train. Not everybody who comes to Pontins is anti the EU and pro British wars abroad. Nor do we all want to sing jingoistic anthems Adolf Hitler would have loved about expanding empires wider and wider.
Tunes like ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ (Pomp and Circumstance) and ‘God Save The Queen’ are fine, even the tune of ‘Rule Britannia’, but some of us would like new words which praise the country and its people but not at the expense of other countries and their people. Republicans like myself can never sing or stand for ‘God Save The Queen’ because we don’t want to save her or the Monarchy, we want to put them both into permanent retirement. It is, therefore, not a suitable national anthem with its present words; it is a eulogy to the Monarchy which an increasing number reject as an anachronism.
On top of all this Graham again asked if any French people were present, and when no hands went up, made the remark that he hated the French. This was no doubt meant as a joke, but such xenophobia and pushing of rightwing anti-foreigner politics is unacceptable at a holiday center like this. Graham, please save such stuff for your party political meetings and when you go on the hustings with your political agenda.
As I say, apart from this Graham does a great job as Entertainments manager, and long may he continue to do so. He booked some excellent acts as usual (many I’ve seen before), and the Bluecoats ’100 Years of the London Palladium’ show was excellent. Congratulations too to the new Bluecoat who sang ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’ another night. Great to see acts like Tucker and the Kenny Rogers tribute act again. Also nice to see acts I hadn’t seen before like the illusionist and the fantastic Guitar George, a young man who sings and plays a variety of music on his guitar. Wonderful act – I’d love to see him again. Bought his CD.