Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Infusion at Blackpool?

Or should it be Big Dipper? Not that they're my sort of thing - especially not now. But neither is ballroom dancing, despite my friends' conviction that I'm addicted to "Strictly Come Dancing". So how come, you may well ask, are Jane and I heading for a "luxury ballroom break" in Blackpool?
Well, it's a long story....
To do with iPads, the North West, and classical music..., and covetousness.
I enjoy classical music in a dilettante sort of way. I often listen to it while I'm at my laptop. For example, at the moment, Mendelssohn's 5th Symphony is playing (composed apparently to mark the 300th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, hence its nickname "The Reformation Symphony"), which I used to have on a good old vinyl. When BBC3 gets too obscure or discordant - I like a good tune - I turn to Classic FM, which one can normally rely on for golden oldies. Its one big snag, of course, is that they rely on advertising revenue, and so the usual fare is single movements or short pieces punctuated by adverts - which are annoying and distracting. I expect my purist friends would excoriate me for having great music on as background, but there we go anyway!
"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's iPad 2, nor his iPhone 4, nor his MacBook Air, nor any device that is his." Apples have been men's downfall from the beginning of history, it seems.
As a result I get occasional emails from Classic FM. Earlier this year they asked us to choose our top 3 pieces of music with the possibility of winning an iPad. That was like the most irresistible fly to this particular trout! I chose - fairly arbitrarily - pieces by Mozart, Schubert and Gorecki. But I was on a roll, and entered another competition "to win two tickets to a day's competition at Blackpool Dance Festival, plus two nights’ stay at the 5* gold Langtry’s Hotel". Sounded all right! It would be nice to see family up that way. I can't remember what the questions were. Well, you never win competitions, do you? And so I forgot about them. 
Then, suddenly, two Fridays ago, a message popped up in my Inbox:
"Dear Michael
I’m contacting you from Classic FM, and I’m delighted to let you know that you have been randomly selected as the winner of the Luxury Ballroom Break in Blackpool. 
There were lots of entries, congratulations!" My first reaction was, This is a spoof! And then I remembered that I'd entered it. I gave Jane an inarticulate yell. How hilarious - us on a Ballroom Break!
We looked up the Langtry. It has recently been refurbished and looks a really nice luxury B & B. Lovely in fact.  Nowadays one of the first things we check is how disabled-friendly a place is. Jane spotted "Access" in small print at the bottom of the screen, and I clicked on it. 7 steps to the front door, 15 to the bedrooms. :(   Never mind. It's just true that not every building can be wheelchair-accessible. It's just a fact of life. So I emailed back to Classic FM, thanking them, but saying we'd not be able to go and they'd better pass it to someone else. That's life.  
Next Tuesday, another email arrives, from Kate Campbell of Visit England:
"Congratulations on winning the Classic FM luxury ballroom break!
Further to your email we are really sorry to hear that Langtry’s does not have the facilities to meet your access needs.   
Therefore, Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board has put in every effort to source some alternative accommodation in Blackpool for that weekend. The newly refurbished Ashley Victoria Hotel, with a 4 star VisitEngland accreditation, does have availability for those dates; please find attached their access statement.  This hotel has been rated as suitable for part-time wheelchair users under VisitEngland’s National Accessible Scheme."

We examined the access statement and it looked fine. Ramps, ground floor rooms with wet rooms. Thank you, we said. Looks great. Two more emails followed, the second from Nikki Duckworth of the Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board - We'd been booked in to a room with a sea view and she told us who'll be looking after us. I think that's good service. Of course, no less than one would expect from the friendly north west! But I did feel that a number of people had gone to a lot of trouble, above and beyond the call of duty, to cater for my needs. I suppose cynics would just argue that it was no more than their legal obligation under whatever discrimination laws. But I'd made it clear that, far from invoking that, I was very content for the weekend to go to someone else. Life's like that sometimes. And all I can say is that universally the tone of the emails I received was not grudging, but friendly and anxious to help. I was and am impressed and grateful.

So at May Bank holiday, off we go to the seaside. I might even get to see some more of my long-eared friends, and you can picture us in the grand surroundings of the Empress Ballroom, holding up our 7s and even 10s! Oh, I do like to be beside the sea!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, that's so fantastic, Michael. Have fun.
    I never enter luck-of-the-draw competitions because I assume I won't win. I am sure you and Jane will really enjoy it, and I look forward to reading about it on your blog!