RICK JACKSON: Today’s Butlin’s is a world away from Hi-de-Hi!

Ruth Madoc as Gladys Pugh in the 1980s' BBC television comedy Hi-de-Hi!
Ruth Madoc as Gladys Pugh in the 1980s' BBC television comedy Hi-de-Hi!

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It's a question of respect – whether in bike or car

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‘Stop being so selfish,’ my wife said. ‘We’re going to Butlin’s for the kids, not for you.’ She was right. Time to think of the children!

I’d never been. I think of Butlin’s as a mixture of the TV shows Hi-De-Hi! and the late-1960s’ drama The Prisoner. People in red coats walking around with constant smiles in a parallel world inside wire fences, with announcements demanding our attendance at ‘fun-filled family games’.

As we arrived Ruth Madoc was singing in my ear as the barrier rose and we drove around endless car parks to find a space. We passed the wire fences that looked out to sea. Would I ever see Alverstoke again?

We’d chosen a self-catering apartment so we had the flexibility of cooking our own meals. It was not five-star, but it was clean and comfortable.

We entered the Big Top, the hub of all the main entertainment. I wasn’t expecting what I saw.

Beneath it were myriad entertainment venues, bars, restaurants, arcade games and slot machines. I didn’t know where to start.

We downloaded an app on the phone to plan our day. There were no Tannoy announcements, no fixed-smile Redcoats. It was all very laid back.

There were plenty of different places to eat and, as a bit of a foodie, I found them to be of excellent quality. I even had food envy of my wife’s chilli chips in the American diner.

The highlight was Splash Waterworld. Now I’ve never ridden a flume ride before, so this was my big chance.

I went to the very top ride and off I went. The green flume was pretty quick as its edges ‘tickled’ my back like a train on its tracks.

Suddenly, the flume turned black as I seemed to freefall into a large green oval cylinder, spinning me around and around until finally I dropped out into the pool. I felt disorientated and seasick. I needed a lie down.

Butlin’s has changed my preconceptions, we will be back, but not on the flume rides!

NOW HIT OLIGARCHS WHERE IT HURTS – IN THEIR POCKETS

I’m pleased to see the international community standing by the UK in expelling more Russian diplomats, sending a clear message to Vladimir Putin that he cannot play his McMafia-style games in other countries.

I do wonder though, after watching that excellent BBC drama, if Putin did have much to do with it?

It seems to me that the Russian mafia is beyond his control and maybe the Kremlin’s ignorance in this matter tells us that this wasn’t something ordered from the top?

The next move for the UK is to hit them where it really hurts, in the oligarchs’ pockets.

However, wouldn’t this make us hypocrites, as we allow similarly corrupt multi-billionaires from other countries to run roughshod through our capital?

BEWARE THE SILVER FOX BOY RACER

My father-in-law has just bought himself a wonderful 70th birthday present, a John Cooper Works Mini.

He’s had a Cooper S for a few years, but he never seemed fully satisfied with it.

He moaned about its excessive oil consumption, timing chain and the power delivery. So when he went to test drive this car with ‘no intention to buy’, I knew he would. Curiosity obviously got the better of him.

So look out for a silver fox boy racer tearing up the streets very soon.

We’ve bought him some Dr Dre CDs, a large hoodie and a baseball cap for him to wear back to front to finish off the gangster look!