It’s a wonderful place…a playland.” The Hong Kongers fleeing to Blackpool

In the dining room of a bed and breakfast in Blackpool, a dozen refugees from Hong Kong tuck into Domino’s pizza and Ben & Jerry’s cookie-dough ice-cream. They miss more familiar food, but the Chinese takeaways in Blackpool, a down-at-heel seaside resort in the north-west of England, “just cheat the locals”, says one Hong Konger, laughing. Blackpool’s boarded-up shops and run-down hotels are a far cry from Hong Kong’s gleaming storefronts and starchitect-designed skyscrapers. The town has the shortest life expectancy in England. It is also home to eight of…

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Orange Drive-In Theatre, photo: Wikimedia Commons

Pandemic rewinds cinemagoers back to the drive-in

In the early 1930s Richard Hollingshead, a car-parts salesman, had an idea. He’d heard his mother moan about how uncomfortable she found the wooden seats in cinemas. What if she could watch a film from the comfort of her car? To test the concept in his driveway, he put a film projector on the hood of his car, hung a sheet from some trees and invited his neighbours. He patented the idea and in June 1933 opened his first drive-in cinema – he called it a “park-in theatre” – near…

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