This busy Newbury reads like a movie poster, bristling with super-heroes and mutant-ninjas coming on like a crappy Avengers Assemble / Watchmen / Guardians Of The Galaxy et al. The dark blue print on mid-blue is a faux pas akin to ‘double denim’ and it does make it a bit tricky to read, especially with so much going on.
What we can see though is the roll call of super characters orbiting around what remains of the Pontins Holiday Camp chain:
Safari Sam – Florence Ostrich – Action Pack Jack – Monkey –
Mega Mix Mick – Zena Zebra
I can speak with some authority as I’m a veteran of camps such as these (although not Pontins but they’re all much of a muchness) when the kids were little. One ‘highlight’ of such holidays was the nightly evening entertainment. In times past as a family we have turned up and partaken, primarily because we’d paid for it as part of the exorbitant cost of a weeks caravan vacation.
For those unacquainted with such an experience, I’ll try and paint pictures with words….
The very hardcore (aka alcoholics or those with no life) armed with grand-kids, will be queuing outside the doors at 5.30pm, hell-bent on securing a premium location table in close proximity to the stage. Once inside & before you know it, these tribes swarm on all the good tables and then begin to annex others in the vicinity, dragging them together to form whole banks of tables, reserving them for further members of their extended litter who will arrive fashionably later.
I always liked to make an entrance between 7 – 7.30pm, as I love watching the Regional News and to be lied to by local weather presenters. The trouble is then you’re left scouring round the place looking for an empty table, which if there is one, you can bet will be next to the bogs with only 1 or 2 chairs maximum, being used as a dumping ground for the detritus from surrounding tribes.
Once said detritus has been cleared and extra chairs scavenged, you’re ready to be entertained.
Comprising of Black Laces Greatest Hits, The Ovaltinies and novelty tuneage, usually one of the band of stuffed Sponge-Avengers is wheeled out onstage which makes the very young cry & have nightmares and slightly older kids gasp in wonderment.
The kids are then carted off to go mad in a side room with padded walls. They should neither be seen or heard for this next part of the evening. This is Serious. Deodorant can size dobber pens are wielded out and set precision-style on the table alongside a myriad bingo ticket books. Amateurs, like myself, scrat around the wife’s handbag hoping to find a crummy biro, or anything to cross off those precious numbers..Eyes down.
45 mins later you’re a fiver light and still cursing your luck when the brats, coiled spring-like, re-emerge, hyper-excited & pestering you for a slush puppy and money to spend at the Tat Shop, whose delights include stuff that glows, (which will doubtless break within the half-hour) key-rings, caps etc etc.
The Main Attraction.
It’s usually now that the centrepiece of the evening takes places, taking the form of either:
– The red or blue coats acting out a mock-buster rendition of a film, complete with supporting roles for our stuffed super heroes;
– A contortionist / juggler / magician or;
– Cruise-ship standard singer(s).
If it’s your lucky week, you just may experience a visit from the local parrot sanctuary who rock up for over-priced photo opportunities.
Personally I’ve had my fill by about 10pm, well before the “Adult” Disco kicks in.
The kids, who’ve been up since 6am are kranky and so am I.
More desperate seat-less families are stealthily circling your table, sensing your departure is imminent…
The final insult arrives as you’re trying to make a dignified exit when you and your offspring are seized at the door and made to pose with a girl in an over-sized hippo suit for photos you just know you’ll end up having to buy on the last night of your stay. Wish You Were Here.
Wish I wasn’t!