The Good Year balloon. We all just accepted it back then in the 70s, as if it were normal and interesting. Looking back, it's utterly bizarre. A small blimp bobbing about promoting car tyres! Who the fuck thought of that?
There it would be, tethered to some event like the Southport Flower Show to which you were taken for the amusement visiting relatives. The balloon was not only seen as something semi-exciting in its own right, but as a mark of quality and proof of the worth of the Show, a denial of its actual mogadonesque experience.
Every year the Southport Flower Show got the same tired treatment from the Southport Visiter. Who knows, perhaps it still does. A headline with the word blooming, (Blooming Marvellous, A Blooming Good Day Out), and some comment about how it was probably as good or maybe even better than the Chelsea Flower Show.
Despite - and I thank a vast pantheon of gods for my good fortune - never having been to the Chelsea Flower Show, despite not even knowing by what measure one begins to judge the relative qualities of flower shows, I am certain the Southport one is worse. It wasn't just that Southport only got on Granada Reports whereas the Chelsea one got on national telly. Though that - fuck all your blimps - itself was a real mark of worth.
It's the desperation in the tone of Southport saying it was a match for Chelsea, the same tone you heard when Southport declared its rickety funfair was probably as good as Blackpool's.
It's like the way any popular band is going to be bigger than the Beatles. It tells us a lot about the Beatles and nothing about Slade, Kajagoogoo or Take That. (And it really was said about all of them).
It's like the parent of a pathetic underachieving child saying 'you're as good as anyone else' as a way to not only pointlessly encourage their useless offspring but also to avoid facing the awful truth themselves.
I never did understand why the newspaper was called the Southport Visiter. It's for locals rather than those just visiting, who in any case are visitors, not visiters.
Or is it the middle one of visit/visiter/visitest? In which case, what the fuck does it mean? Yet its name is as blindly accepted by a complacent public as the inexplicable Good Year blimp.
Of course, we call it 'the' Good Year blimp, but there must have been dozens of them if they could turn out at every country show and stuff.
Has it gone away? Or am I just liberated from tedious family days out now?