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THE STOLEN CITY


THE STOLEN CITY An Unthinkable Thought

Barry Stafford


Printed & Bound by Bisset Binders Illustrations & Layout by Stephanie Bickford-Smith First Published in Great Britain 2013 Supporting content Current Revisions By Mike Linklater (re-in 3) For a catalogue go to www.nathanburr.com The Stolen City workshop run in collaboration with AUNTY SOCIAL Central Library Blackpool 16/5/2013

“You only miss it all, when it’s all gone.” Blu


With Thanks To Barry, Blu, Mel, Catherine, Scott Alan, Gweneth, Jeff & Vicky


For Jake


CONTENTS Foreward

1

Stolen

5

The Competition

9

The Revolutionary Replica

13

A day in the life of an actor The Stolen City Workshop

19

Make Your Own Relics

49

27


The land where it once stood...


Foreward

Blackpool has been stolen. All that remains are the shocked residents and a stick of rock found at the spot where the Blackpool Tower once stood. This scenario opens the door to the possibility to there being no original anymore, only infinite copies of copies. Memories shift and change over time distorting the idea of a stable reality. We use film and photography to capture the fleeting moment and retelling it as a fiction. As an actor how does this relate to you? I would like to play a game of Chinese whispers with you. I have already begun by telling you the story of how Blackpool has been stolen. I have designed a possible new social structure based upon good or bad acting. I have given you the outline of the character Barry - an author who has returned from Blackpool with the story. What I need now is for you to learn the story and then retell it in your own words but as Barry.

1


I’m interested in the distortions and exaggerations that you come up with. How you react to a situation and how far you can go with it. If you mess up or are unconvincing with the story then the act of acting is simply revealed which is fine. My story is a template for this project feel free to change details or change nothing at all, all I ask is you retell the story from memory and as an actor, whether you are a good or bad one.

3


Stolen

Blackpool has been stolen. The land where it once stood is now barren. The only evidence that Blackpool had ever been there were the shocked residents and a stick of rock found at the spot where the Blackpool tower once stood. The theft of Blackpool was international news and put Blackpool on the global map. Postcards, sticks of rock, key rings, anything associated with Blackpool raised in value. The popularity of the story led to a dramatic increase in tourism. People came from all over the world to view the space where Blackpool once stood. Lancashire decided to build an exact replica of Blackpool fifty miles north and opened it up as theme park. The displaced ex-residents of the original Blackpool were invited back to work as actors in the theme park which at first they were happy to do.

5


But, it wasn’t long before a dissenting group of ex-residents protested against this new version of Blackpool. They complained that the theme park didn’t feel like the Blackpool they remembered and insisted that large areas of detail were completely wrong. Eventually Lancashire granted permission for the exresidents to build their own replica on the land, where Blackpool once stood.

7


The Competition

A competition was devised. It was proposed that a new Blackpool would be built every seven years based on exact memories of the original. After seven years the city would then be taken down, destroyed and replaced with a new version. Specially selected residents would be asked to compete to design each new replica as close to the original as they could. A social system was formed where the residents would be given a different role to play in each new Blackpool. If a resident acted their role well they would be rewarded with a better role in the next replica. Casting agents for Lancashire lived amongst the actors to constantly watch out for authentic immersions in character. Failure to do so was seen as bad acting and would result in the actor playing a minor role in the next city.

9


The ultimate role anyone could play was a designer as those playing designers were the only ones allowed to enter the competition. As the years and cities passed the actors of Blackpool began referring to each new replica as a reincarnation and became so accustomed to living in the many replicas that they forgot they were acting altogether. Although strangely, they continued to refer to themselves as actors. Their experience of time also changed. It was now perceived to unfold in seven year cycles as if it had synchronised with the biology of the body. As time went on the designs for Blackpool became less and less lucid until one day a design was revealed which made everybody gasp in amazement at its familiar and yet revolutionary appearance.

11


The Revolutionary Replica

During the seventh competition a maquette of a proposed replica city was unveiled by a designer who claimed to have once lived in the original Blackpool. There was something unnerving about the design. The maquette appeared perfectly familiar to all those who saw it although they all felt that merely looking at it with eyes was insufficient to explain what they perceived before them. Somebody suggested it was as if the key to understanding this replica was always 3cm in time away from them. Everyone agreed. The design went on to win. Long after the allocated time frame of seven years had come and gone, the new Blackpool was still in a strange state of having been built and yet was still in the process of being built.

13


It was as if this Blackpool was constantly shedding and growing a new skin. Although it was constantly being knocked down, a new identical surface was always there to take its place. Despite the fact that this new Blackpool was constantly growing, it somehow never moved beyond its own boundaries. As if it was breathing. This city had its own internal logic. It was so different to anything anybody could remember experiencing before, and yet, it was so familiar in its exactness. What had been built represented a new ideology. One not built upon stone.

15


The memory of Blackpool had been imperceptibly changed forever.

17


A Day in the Life of an Actor

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The Fortune Teller “Tea and Tarot� Based On Memories of a Real Event Revisions By: Lianne Godstone Trevor McNammie Gill Cooper Current Revisions By Mike Linklater (re-in 3)

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The Blackpool Experience 243 Preston Street Blackpool Fortune Teller

Draft 3

July re-in 3

EXT.BLACKPOOL PIER – DAY 1 (MORNING). TEXT: “AUGUST 2013” TERRENCE (TERRY) HIGGINS (58) STROLLS ALONG STREET TOWARDS HIS SHOP ON A WARM SUMMERS MORNING. TERRENCE IS DEEP IN THOUGHT LOOKING AT THE CLOUDS PASSING OVERHEAD AND FORGETS TO WAVE TO THE OWNER OF THE CAFÉ NEXT DOOR, SARAH MILLIGAN (38). SARAH LOOKS A LITTLE ANNOYED. TERRENCE IS A CANTANGEROUS MAN WHO LOOKS AND ACTS OLDER THAN HIS YEARS. HE LIVES ALONE AND HAS NO PETS ALTHOUGH HE DOES ENJOY WATCHING THE BIRDS IN HIS GARDEN, WHICH HE FEEDS. APART FROM BEING A GIFTED MEDIUM TERRENCE IS ALSO A SHROUD BUISNESSMAN AND OWNS 5 PROPERTIES IN BLACKPOOL THAT HE RENTS OUT.

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SARAH Not even going to wave this morning then Terry? TERRENCE (LOOKING STARTLED) Oh, sorry Sarah I didn’t see you there. SARAH What were you looking at up there Terry? TERRENCE That cloud formation. (TERRY POINTS TO THE SKY)

SARAH Well, they all look the same to me. I’ll see you later Terry.

SARAH WALKS BACK INTO HER CAFÉ AND TOPS UP THE MUG OF TEA OF AN ELDERLY GENTLEMAN WHO LIFTS HIS WALKING STICK AS A SIGN OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT TOWARDS TERRENCE. TERRENCE SMILES AS HE FUMBLES IN HIS POCKETS LOOKING FOR THE KEYS TO HIS SHOP WHICH HE EVENTUALLY FINDS AND OPENS THE DOOR.

SARAH All clouds look the same to me Terry. TERRENCE Well I can assure you their not Sarah. You can tell a lot from the clouds. This one they call a mackerel sky – mackerel in the sky three days dry. When you see such a cloud formation it means that we have a change in the weather coming. A hot spell I would say.

24

CUT TO: IN THE TERRENCE SHOP

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The Stolen City Workshop Run In Collaboration With Aunty Social 16/5/2013

Central Library Blackpool 27


Barry meets the actors of Blackpool

29


BLU Do you know, I went to university in the midlands and I was completely lost. It just doesn’t stop. I’m in the midlands and I can go in any direction and there’s still more stuff, why is there more stuff? I just wanted a coast; I was absolutely lost it was horrible. Just taking the sea for granted I didn’t realise how much I would miss it until I wasn’t here. Its not that I go down to the beach everyday and walk along the beach but I know its there. More often than not I do drive nearby or I can see the sea or the tower everyday. You only miss it all when it’s gone. Even if the tower wasn’t there I wouldn’t be happy just living in another coastal town because it’s not Blackpool. BARRY Its important to have the security of a permanent 31


structure like the tower I guess. TONY Unless it weren’t there of course! If it was stolen, then what? What would Blackpool be without the tower? It would feel a different place, because you can’t think of Blackpool without thinking of the tower. GWEN But if something were to happen to it, like it was stolen, how would they rebuild it? Would they rebuild from the same vision? TONY Would you? Yates wine lodge. They’re not rebuilding it but their putting something else there. I feel - oh dear not another Tesco - about it but its probably the only thing that can afford to go there isn’t it. I think their make a lot of money 32

out of it, I’m sure they’ll do very well and maybe that’s the future. But if the tower wasn’t there, not that the tower can disappear, if it was to disappear would you rebuild it? Could you afford too? Would it be worth it? Or would you seize the opportunity to do something different? BLU Would people still come if the tower weren’t here? Do people only come because the towers here? TONY Well they would say they don’t but its not as simple as that. What people think and what people mean are sometimes different things. Would they think Blackpool was special without the tower? Mmm. BLU It amazes me how a tower can make things 33


special. It’s just a tower, but its Blackpool tower. It is special. TONY It’s very special. You couldn’t be without it. But if Blackpool wasn’t there how much of it would you rebuild? BLU I would have to rebuild the tower if it was up to me. TONY Would you rebuild the piers? BLU yes, if it was up to me. And the Pleasure beach. GWEN I think that Blackpool is not only known for the tower, it’s what’s inside it. Look at the tower ballroom, that’s even televised isn’t it! And 34

it’s notorious for its circus, and going up and walking across the glass. So I think what’s inside is very important. TONY But is it only the tower? I mean, if Blackpool was stolen would it only be the tower that would be the focus of everything? Or are there other things? VICKY It makes me think of all the stories of cheese being stolen. BARRY Cheese being stolen? VICKY Oh there was a rash of cheese thefts, wasn’t there. Cheese and chocolate and beef weren’t it?

35


MEL yeah, meats common. GWEN What’s been stolen from the park? MEL Oh, some of those lead figures, they sawed them off didn’t they. GWEN yeah. That’s quite recent isn’t it? BLU at the serpentine where the fountain is. But there was a relatively new statue… GWEN I think, I don’t know if this is right, but the lions that are there, haven’t they taken those down? CATH Their being cleaned, but they are a little dubious about bringing them back. 36

MEL They’re staying at Stowe and we’re getting replicas. GWEN we’re getting replicas. Who knows where the originals will go? BARRY It’s the same with the Peter Blake sculpture that was stolen from the seafront, they’re going to replace that with a concrete replica. I think the original was lead. VICKY Yeah it happened to the Cherry Korelli statue in the park, you look at it from a distance and you think - that’s bronze fantastic - you get up close and its fiber glass made to look like bronze. We just looked at each other and said - why can’t we 37


just have something nice? MEL That’s very Blackpool that is, BARRY When I was in the winter gardens earlier I was in the Spanish galleon looking room with all the old timber and you think wow! And then they said - this isn’t timber its plaster made to look like timber. I felt it and thought oh yeah! But it does look spectacular. The appearance is one thing and the reality of the materials is another.

weren’t you? JEFF No I came here in 1940 GWEN so he’s been here a long time JEFF I remember the all girl bands would you believe in the tower roof garden there. It seemed a strange concept at the time. I don’t know if it’s even stranger today! MEL Cos there was the swimming pool wasn’t there?

JEFF The large dome at the Grand theatre, that’s all original wood you know. Frank Matcham’s masterpiece that. GWEN I think Jeff here was actually born in Blackpool 38

JEFF yes yes, next to the Hilton, an Olympic sized swimming pool but it was going to be too expensive an operation to replace the filter so they knocked it all down. 39


GWEN There was an outdoor one as well wasn’t there? JEFF That’s true, where the sandcastle structure is opposite the pleasure beach BLU There was one at north as well though wasn’t there? GWEN I’m not sure but I’ve seem photographs of the bathing bells when they all used to walk round with the number, you know, who’s going to win? JEFF I remember the bathing bells do you believe. GWEN I thought you might!

40

JEFF I tell you not, they had a system where all the ladies went in and then the bell went, they came out and all the gentlemen went in. And my father in his wisdom chose to go around near the tower at the wrong period of time and was soundly told off. GWEN Do you know about pigeon week? When all the pigeon fanciers come to Blackpool. BARRY I have heard of it yes. Do the pigeons stay inside or do they let them fly around? GWEN I’m not sure exactly. I do know they come to sell them. We had a hotel and you would see all these little boxes on the day they were going home with all these pigeons in. 41


Slightly odd, but its part of the everyday here. CATH Little take away boxes with little handles and holes full of pigeons making strange noises. GWEN all you would hear was coo coo coo. VICKY That’s what we was saying only yesterday wasn’t it, that there are things that happen in Blackpool that don’t happen elsewhere and people here don’t batter an eyelid. BLU That’s like earlier when we went out for lunch and there were those kids with the animal hats on and we were just like - yeah that’s fine, its Blackpool. We have all the stag and hen parties walking around and you see Batman drunk looking for Robin and that’s perfectly acceptable. 42

BARRY What about the slide that Tony just showed and then said matter of factly ‘what we have here are the Camels on the beach in front of the tower. I thought hang on a minute! Blackpool had camels! Where did they come from? It’s all so matter of fact. The surreal and the everyday here are so close together. Again just look at the Winter Gardens and the Spanish galleon room, the Spanish suite the Indian room, all of these other worldly themed environments next to each other and as you walk through you are experiencing this heightened reality where everything becomes theatrical. GWEN My favorite one is the elephants. They used to 43


take the elephants from the circus onto the beach so they could have a wash. BLU They have photographs in the shopping center. BARRY The thing with the Winter Gardens is, your not on stage but the entire place was designed by a set designer who lifted the interiors into the theatrical - so you are on stage. BLU It’s making a spectacle of the everyday. ALAN There’s another little interesting aside to that because they did it up - the Winter gardens fairly recently and they uncovered things there that they hadn’t use. So there’s hidden places where there are statues in rooms not being used. 44

Its like it’s been reconstructed into another image of itself. BLU Yeah, and some of the original plans, I think it was the Indian ballroom, that’s now the Olympia it all got ripped out. The pictures of that are so beautiful, but it all got ripped out. Its quite plain now but it had all these gorgeous balconies and balustrades. BARRY Like Tony was just saying about the old Yates wine lodge that burnt down and their now replacing it with a Tesco express. MEL It’s sad. It’s really not Blackpool is it. BLU I was telling Scott about this morning’s workshop 45


with the kids and the first thing they said they would miss if Blackpool were stolen was Nickelodeon land! Not even the pleasure beach. Nickelodeon land, its the best thing in Blackpool if your a kid. MEL But for our generation it was probably stuff like Jungle Jim’s or Professor Peabody’s. BLU Professor Peabody’s, oh my God that was the best thing! It was an adventure playground that had a big slide that you would get friction burns from and ball pools and big cargo nets across the celling. That was in the Winter Gardens, in the Olympia. And they would only open it in the summer so you would be bored all winter waiting for Peabody’s to open again.

BARRY You have a large firework festival here in Blackpool don’t you? BLU Yeah and that’s great. It’s free so you can just stand and watch. BARRY You don’t have any hills here in Blackpool do you? BLU No. But you can go up the tower.

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Make Your Own Relics

49


53


How to make a Blackpool Tower Candle

Find an object that reminds you of the Blackpool Tower Build a box 5cm wider and 5cm taller that the object you have chosen as your tower Using a glue gun insulate the edges of your box Attach your object to the base of the box using a glue gun. Mix silicon Pour silicon into box making sure to cover all your tower object Leave silicon to set for 12 hours Remove the silicon mould from box

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Carefully slice open one side of the mould in a snake like motion

Melt wax in a saucepan Pour wax into mould

Cut wick 10cm longer than your mould and place inside the mould (leave the 5cm extra wick appearing from both ends of the mould.)

Leave in a cool/cold room for 2 hours Remove elastic bands from around the mould

Attach elastic bands around the outside of the mould to prevent any leakages

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Gently open up mould and remove wax candle

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Other Books By Barry Stafford

THE RETURN OF THE OLD THE GROWING EMBRYO THE ANGRY MOB


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The new short story by the best selling author

BARRY STAFFORD Blackpool has been stolen, the only evidence that Blackpool was ever there were the shocked residents and a stick of rock found at the spot where the Blackpool tower once stood....

The non-organic growth of this fictional city is a cutting reflection of the amibition behind any modern city . Donavan Wayfarer

Ever since he returned from his first visit to the Stolen City Barry has been obsessed’ Blackpool Observer


The Stolen City