Readers of this journal entry will, unfortunately, have to permit me to indulge in a little bout or reminiscence. During the mid to late 1980s, my father regularly took me to Scarborough for week-ends away. We stayed in a caravan – or very occasionally a bed and breakfast – and spent our time playing bingo or snooker in the games rooms and arcades on the promenade and eating fish and chips in the evening. Whilst this was not particularly glamorous, my younger self enjoyed it tremendously. Therefore, when we went back for a visit several years later, I was always going to be drifting down memory lane.
Whilst drifting into the past was to be expected, I was extremely surprised to find that in the 20 to 25 years since I visited Scarborough regularly, it had not changed all that much. Much of this familiarity was to be expected. Scarborough is, after all, a renowned fishing port and has been for centuries. Therefore, to expect the main industry and the make-up of the town to have changed would have been quite simply ridiculous. So, I found the harbour and the surrounding areas to be much the same as when I was a child.
However, Scarborough's other major industry is tourism, one which has changed dramatically in the past 25 years. When I first visited Scarborough, my family stayed in a small touring caravan that had no running water and needed to run the electricity from my dad's car battery. We took showers in a communal block and had to walk across fields to get to the camp-site's toilets. In the twentieth-first century, with the growth of package tours and budget airlines, my old-style trips have gone the way of the dodo. As a consequence, I was expecting to see far more hotels and slightly more modern accommodation options. This did not prove to be the case at all. There were no travelodges or motels and scarcely a sign of any major hotel chains (which was perhaps a welcome absence).
Entertainment options had not changed dramatically either, which was a point that saddened me a little. The sea-front was still dominated by video-game arcades. This not only disappointed me, but also left me puzzled. In the 1980s, computer game sat home were rather basic, so it was fun to get a chance to play games at sea-side. However, now with X box's and Play-station's the games on show in the arcades looked frighteningly antiquated. There was also still a small fun fair, which also seemed like an anachronism. It had a rather small big wheel and a few rides that looked like they had been there for years. Both the fair and most of the arcades were pretty empty and staffed by employees who looked altogether jaded. The only entertainment option that hung on and seemed to be thriving was the pub. There were still plenty along the sea-front that seemed to be doing a roaring trade.
Thus far the rather out-dated picture I am painting of Scarborough seems rather negative. It might explain why people in England tend to venture abroad for their holidays now and simply use English destinations for day trips or week-ends. However, there were a few refreshing elements to the lack of change. Chief amongst these was food. Scarborough seemed to have managed to avoid an influx of fast-food and the fish and chip shop was still king and was ably supported by fresh sea-food stalls and candy-floss vendors. There was not a McDonald's or Starbucks in sight.