‘A region that came of age by harnessing the drudging toil of industry, Lancashire’s people threw off the shackles which bound it to the machines, only to immediately don the glittering leg-irons of light entertainment.’
Bold and brash, Lancashire takes much of its defiant confidence from its role as cradle of the Industrial Revolution, where the region’s first capitalists broke new ground in the economic breakthrough that was making poor people’s shitty lives shittier. Competition with neighbouring Yorkshire became increasingly fierce over this period, with Lancashire eventually winning the economic arms race and title of ‘Most Exploitative County’ after discovering that children, when crushed and heated to the right temperature, were ultimately a cheaper fuel then coal.
Now making up for the time lost in the factory floor tedium, Lancastrians have celebrated their economic freedom by locking themselves into a new prison which recklessly embraced all available forms of entertainment, with the good, the bad and the Manning amply represented.
From package holiday tour reps with singing voices flatter than the top of Bill Turnbull’s head, to the crapulous whimpers of the latest X-Factor winner, the county laps up minute after excruciating minute, remembering all too well the times where it would spend sixteen hours a day re-hanging the iron-toothed spinning jenny. Only the city of Manchester has attempted to partially hold out against the glamour and tinsel, with local bands like Oasis and The Smiths early pioneers in the concept of anti-tainment.
- ADMISSION – £15 adults, £10 concessions
- IMPORTS – TV formats, big song and dance numbers
- ACCENTS – Oh yes
- HATES – Everyone not from Lancashire
- HATES EVEN MORE – Everyone in Lancashire who is not from home town
- HATES MOST – Our kid
- SECRET WISH – To live in a musical
1480 – The Duchies of Lancaster and York fight the War of the Roses to determine which family line earns the right to eat the last big purple one.
1852 – Karl Marx visits Preston and describes the town as “the next St. Petersburg.” He returns later in the year to add, “And not in a good way.”
1880 – Katherine Moorhouse of Salford invents the first fad diet, with thousands buying her book ‘Starvation: Dying for a Thinner You’.
1916 – Bolton is a target for one of the first aerial offensives in history when German Zeppelins bomb the town until being hit by anti-aircraft guns, whereupon they fly wildly around in the air while making a farting sound.
1919 – Lancashire hosts the UK’s first race riot, after a mob of tabby cats attack and kill a black cat falsely accused of stealing Felix pouches.
1962 – Beatlemania begins, sparking off years of worldwide popularity, millions of records sales, and a mercifully short period of Cillamania.
1967 – While playing a League match for Manchester United, a hungover George Best is booked for fouling the pavement.
1978/9 – The Winter of Discontent blows a chill wind through Liverpool, which is fortunately cold enough to preserve the piles of dead bodies left uncollected by striking grave-diggers.
2009 – After wearing black armbands for every single one of their home games in the 2008/09 season, on some occasions just because the club shop had run out of pies, Liverpool FC elect to make it a permanent feature of their kit.
Did You Know?
Blackpool’s beaches have been given the coveted Brown Flag award in every one of the thirty-four years since the competiton was founded.
Manchester Central constituency achieved the UK’s lowest electoral turnout in the 2010 General Election, with over 55% of eligible voters not casting their ballot, giving excuses including ‘lack of free gift’ and ‘had a thing’.
Lancashire is home to many unheralded culinary creations, including Fag Pie, a pie made from chopped dried figs, sugar and lard, Frog-i’-th’-‘ole pudding, Nettle Porridge and Sad Cake, a cake made from standard ingredients, but replacing the sugar, butter, flour, milk, and all other flavourings with stones.
In the early 1950s Liverpool twinned with the city of Cologne, which also suffered heavily from aerial bombing. The relationship was severed in the late 80s when the impressively regenerated and modern German city made an announcement to say that while the relationship had been beautiful at the time, the two had since grown apart. An American visitor taken to Manchester’s blackspots during the Industrial Revolution described “wretched, defrauded, oppressed, crushed human nature, lying and bleeding fragments,” Manchester later took up his suggestion to twin with Los Angeles.
Local inventor Frank Hornby was a visionary toy developer and manufactured three of the 20th Century’s most popular and time-consuming toys: Hornby Trains, Dinky Toys and Meccano. Ironically, Hornby designed toys to be as compelling as possible in order to avoid ever having to see his own hateful children.
The Preston Temperance Society, pioneered the wider Temperance Movement which became popular during the 19th Century. The term ’teetotal’ is believed to have been coined at one of its meetings by the chairman trying to say ‘totally’ after half a shandy.
Are you ‘up for it’ enough to be called Lancastrian? Just answer these three simple questions to find out.
1. You and your family are on holiday at a large overseas resort. You notice that the hotel timetable lists an ‘Entertainment Extravaganza!’ on tonight’s activities. Do you:
- A – Check out of the resort immediately.
- B – Pretend to your family that you want to go, then don’t mention it again until the whole bloody thing is forgotten.
- C – Bag front row seats and hoot like a moron throughout the excruciating performance.
2. You have gone to the theatre to watch the stage show of a popular TV magician. He asks for a volunteer from the audience. You:
- A – Look down at your shoes and wish you were dead.
- B – Shyly attempt to make subtle eye contact.
- C – Hoot like a moron.
3. You’re an executive producer at a failing commercial TV network. The channel’s Director asks you choose to choose the host of a new Saturday night primetime show. You pick:
- A – Michael Aspel – gets the job done, still wears a tie.
- B – Ant and Dec or Davina McCall – evergreen presenters guaranteed to keep everyone happy.
- C – Vernon Kay – a hooting moron.
Mostly As – You hate all forms of light entertainment, even finding Andrew Neill on the Daily Politics a little too stimulating. You are not from Lancashire, nor do you wish to visit.
Mostly Bs – You enjoy a bit of razzamatazz now and again, but don’t like being patronised. You like Peter Kay, but think Paddy McGuinness is a terrible mistake. You may have visited Lancashire, but only briefly.
Mostly Cs – You have not only enjoyed cruise-ship entertainment, but recorded and watched it again on video in preference to professionally produced films. Not even the presence of Tim Lovejoy will dissuade you from enjoying a television programme. You are Lancastrian.