Monday, 21 March 2016

What Butlins Taught Me

How was my weekend, you ask?  

I'll show you:


Went to Butlins on a hen do.  I adore the place. If you're not from Britain and haven't heard of it, it's a venue/holiday village thing where:

a.  Parents with kids (what other kind of parents are there, Becky? Wake up, dear!) who aren't posh enough to jump on a plane visit on a yearly basis visit so that they can get pissed at the always-open bars while their children run wild and are loosely controlled by staff in red coats (...called Redcoats), who are hysterically trying to grin and perform their way through severe hang overs.  In retrospect, I feel very sorry for whoever had to wear the Bob the Builder costume all day.  It must have reeked of discount vodka breath and kebab farts.

b.  Grown ups visit for themed no-children-allowed weekends (because kids would leave with full blown PTSD if they were allowed to witness one) to dress up in fancy dress and drink until they genuinely believe they are in the decade that weekend is dedicated to.  This weekend, I was a school girl in the 90's.  I am channeling my inner "Perry off of Kevin & Perry Go Large" in the above image.  I don't have time to explain Kevin & Perry today.  Maybe in another post.  Or you could Google it.  It's sort of like a more embarrassing, British Wayne's World but with gratuitous zit popping and a poo in the sea.  High brow filmage at its finest.

I'm so pleased I was invited to this hen's weekend long, liver pickling event, because every time I go to Butlins in Minehead, I feel like I'm visiting the mother ship.  My family would occasionally go while we were growing up, and I LOVED it there.  Middle sis and I would have free run of the funfair, arcades and kids' shows while our family and family friends would get merrily tanked up and wave us on our way.  I'm pretty sure little sis learned to crawl in one of the chalets.  And if I ever convince her to come on an adult weekend now that she's eighteen, I'm certain she'll continue the tradition of scooting around on her hands and knees to get places, albeit for a different reason.  You can't turn around without being offered a shot of something strong,sugary and unnaturally coloured.

Butlins in all its wonky, sometimes scruffy, boozy, silly Britishness helped shape me as a person (for better or worse...), so I'm going to share with you a few life lessons I've taken from my visits there both as a child and an adult:

1.  The best time to ask your parents for something they'd otherwise say no to is when they're a bit tipsy.  

"Can I go on that ride?"

"Yeah, go ahead!"

"Can I have some money for the arcade?"

"Crack on, love!"

"Can you sign this bit of paper so I can get my nose pierced?"

"Sure I can!"

2.  Once you've been to Butlins, any holiday that doesn't have something at least a little bit crappy about it doesn't feel like a proper holiday.  I'm sure the food has improved since I was treated to full board visits in my youth (because we were fancy like that), but I would cheerfully guzzle down scrambled eggs that looked and smelled like fetid frogspawn in the morning before jaunting back to our chalet to have a quick shower where you BY THE LOVE OF GOD, DON'T TOUCH THE WALLS IN THERE!  AND WEAR FLIP FLOPS OUR YOU'LL DIE!!"  Everything's been done up in the accommodation there now, but I won't lie - I was kind of pleased last weekend when a friend and I got the one room where the light flickered constantly in a raver stylee.  It's like they knew I was coming and wanted to make me comfortable!  I was home.

3.  If you like privacy, an adult weekend is not for you.  Strangers wander in and out of each other's accommodation pretty freely.  Mostly because most of the buildings are a confusing maze of identical..ness.  In our case this weekend, we saw a streak of rainbow colours and hair flash past the living room door.  It turned out to be an overexcited stag wearing little more than pants (thank God), braces, a tutu and more body hair than you'd get if you stuck both my pets together with duct tape.  He turned out to be non hostile, so we invited him in and promptly gave him a make over and some beers.

4.  If you want to be a human sized strawberry, stripper cop or overweight batman of an evening, then, my friend, it is your God given RIGHT to be so.

5.  No matter how tiring, cold or malnourished you are by the end of your visit, you are guaranteed to feel nostalgic and sad the second you turn your back on the place.  I remember leaving once as a kid and taking in the white peaks of the pavilion, the lights of the fairground and the sharp, stabby winds blowing off the sea and gagging to get back to simple, straight forward, seaside fun.

Til next time, Butlins.  Til next time.


Christ, I'm tired.

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