Saturday, March 24, 2012

A night out with Carl

A day more like June than March. Lorraine and I off to Brighton station, travelling to Victoria together. I then made my way to Euston to visit Carl in Runcorn, and Lorraine went to Leeds to see Sam. A stress free journey, listening to Kate Mosse's The Winter Ghosts on my iPod. Carl waiting for me at Runcorn station and it was heartwarming to see him again after two and a half years. He was looking well and cheerful. And he drove me off to the Premier Inn and then returned with Jayne and Ellie once I'd unpacked and got myself sorted in a clean and reasonably pleasant room.

Then off towards Frodsham and the Lady Hayes craft centre. Jayne went happily into a craft shop, and Carl, Ellie and I zoomed about in the patented Watson short attention span tour of other attractions. One was a shop selling aromatic and expensive candles owned by Bob Carolgees of Spit the Dog fame. The famous owner was there, but we weren't moved to speak to him. There was a microbrewery there, and Carl and I went in and had a thimble of beer, and Carl bought me three bottles to take home.

Then we all went to a Harvester for a big feed of chicken and salad. Nice to chat to Jayne and Ellie, who at 14 is now officially a teenager, but seems a very pleasant one. She's very like Carl in lots of ways, including her humour, and loves drawing especially portraits. She showed me a few on her phone, and they were very good. Jayne working for the Department of Education, and like other of my acquaintance, had faint praise for Michael Gove.

We all went shopping in an new shopping area called Cheshire Oaks, which was very American seeming to me, but pleasant enough. Then Carl and I then dropped off by Jayne in Frodsham village on the Edge of Runcorn where we had many beers in a variety of pubs.

Drinking up here a completely different thing to in Brighton. The Runcorn women, for example, tend to dress up like wannabe WAGS, with thick makeup and a kind of fake-tanned glamour just to go to the pub. Carl explained that they tended to see the same people most nights, which may have been why even I felt like a vulnerable prey species in one called The Bear's Paw.

Carl and I catching up on a thousand pieces of news, and it was a lovely time. Eventually we got a cab into The Old Town, what the locals call the old central part of Runcorn. Here we met Carl's pal John who is a really decent guy who has been bringing up his two children single-handed. Into another pub, The Royal, Carl said I should keep my mouth shut, due to my exotic Southern poshness. It proved to be a lively place with a dozen screens featuring a boxing match. This presumably as a precursor to the scuffles that John assured me regularly break out in the pub. It was somewhat lairy. And it had a karaoke man bellowing in corner. We left for a more sedate place, a pub confusingly called The Wine Bar.

A shared bag of chips followed and then home by cab. A lively night in the North, and very different from beers in Brighton. A few beers with Carl had been a long time coming, but it was well worth it.

Below John and Carl in a lively boozer.

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