If I were a superhero I’d be Captain Snobby, just flying around the world, looking down on people

I’ve just spent the week in Butlins Skegness, home of redcoats, winds that can cut you in half and people who genuinely believe that tiresome TV star Chico makes for a good night’s entertainment.

It’s cheap and cheerful (although not as cheerful as the photography in the brochure would have you believe: the apartments are basic and our one smelled alarmingly of junk food), and while some of the customers are pretty rough – I think I was the only parent there who didn’t have his kids’ names tattooed on his neck like the back of a Glasgow taxi, and a vocal minority of pissed, angry people in sportswear appeared to have been beamed in from an episode of Shameless – it’s a great place for kids.

That doesn’t mean some of the shows don’t take the piss, though. Exciting “meet your favourite cartoon characters, kids!” events are stretched beyond endurance, so a two-minute bit of Bugs Bunny dancing becomes an hour-long interactive adventure that largely consists of panto-style “I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” bellowing at increasingly bored and fractious kids. There are also real terrors, such as a live stage show featuring Barney the Dinosaur.

The worst, though, is Thomas the Tank Engine. His show goes on for about three days, and it turns out that the “Friends” bit of “Thomas and Friends” is 99% of the show. Those friends are two unfunny janitors who run around pretending they can’t see one another, and if guns were legal in the UK they’d be shot within three seconds of turning up.

It may be the worst so-called entertainment you’ll ever encounter, and just when it couldn’t get any crappier, when you discover that the payoff for 45 minutes of tedium surrounded by people with more children than tattoos and more tattoos than teeth is no more than a peek at a crappy and not-to-scale model train, your toddler turns to you with a look of pure delight and smiles a smile that could illuminate the universe. “Dad,” the smile says. “dad, it’s Thomas. And he’s right here.

And in that moment, Butlins is the greatest place in the whole wide world.





0 responses to “If I were a superhero I’d be Captain Snobby, just flying around the world, looking down on people”

  1. We go here every January for a Brass Band contest. It’s great/crap.

    I suppose we’ll have to take Ruby when she’s old enough to appreciate the squalor and mediocre food/entertainment.

    We always have a great time, though

  2. Gary

    It’s one of those places where the fun you have is entirely down to what you expect. We thought it’d be a bit shit for adults and superb for kids, and that’s exactly how it panned out – so Sophie had a hoot, and because she had a good time we had a good time.

    Mind you, it wasn’t raining much when we were there. If it had bucketed down the whole time the experience might have been different.

  3. Gary

    Incidentally I really don’t understand that talcum powder/dancefloor sign. Is it a Northern Soul thing?

  4. Gary

    Ah, I see. People are strange.

  5. mupwangle

    From another article about Northern Soul:
    “There are lots of people in Fred Perry shirts and parker jackets, and they even put talcum powder on the dance floor to slide around.”

  6. Squander Two

    We went to Peppa Pig’s Party the other week. It was really pretty good, and Daisy loved it. Two criticisms. They used loads of generic crappy kids’ music, which is insane when they’re officially licenced and so could use Julian Nott’s music. Doing a live Peppa show for kids and not taking the opportunity to perform “Birdy Birdy Woof Woof” is grade-A trick-missing. And the guy who did Daddy Pig had no comic timing and screwed up the delivery on pretty-much every line.

    As if the kids cared.

  7. Gary

    I haven’t had the pleasure of Peppa Pig live, but Sophie and Liz have. Sophie had a hoot and Liz wasn’t too bored, so that counts as a result, I think.

    > As if the kids cared.


  8. My mum used to take us out with my Nana on a Saturday night to the local Liberal Club where we did dancing: waltzes, valetas, that sort of thing. This is in Leeds.

    There was a live band (of three old guys – great musicians) and a dance floor that was often powdered for that special slipperyness required for old people shuffling their feet about.

    Must be a Northern thing

  9. Gary

    I think it is, yeah. Wasn’t Wigan the epicentre of northern soul?