Saturday, 8 May 2010

A Journey Too Far

Off to Accrington to see No.1 daughter and her intended this weekend. Ghastly place – it’s bleaker than Bleak House on a bleak day in the bleakest mid-winter - and somewhat reminiscent of Black Pockrington, a fictional northern town in Tom Sharp’s darkly humorous satirical novel ‘The Throwback’ (well worth a read if you like black humour).

Not looking forward to the B&B. It will probably turn out to be one of those hideous places with humungous gates in black and gold hammerite with concrete lions on the gateposts. Bedrooms will have nylon floral print duvets with pink and cream velour headboards shaped like a clamshell. You can just picture it now – sentimental prints of robins and deer all over the walls. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a squadron of flying ducks gracing the mint-green, washable anaglypta papered walls. The bedside lights will be those garish brass-effect, touch-sensitive jobbies from Argos that you have to beat several times to turn off completely, resplendent with energy-saving light bulbs having the illuminative capacity of a spent Swan Vesta.

It's advertised as being in the 'fashionable' Rossendale area. The words fashionable and Rossendale are not easy bedfellows in my lexicon. The fact it butts on to Coal Pit Lane, has what looks like a factory opposite (according to Google Maps) and seems to have a lorry park out back does not exactly fill me with anticipation and hope. I shall report on my return.

I do hope they serve black pudding for breakfast – I mean the real stuff, not the ersatz, sawdust-filled crap you get down south. I find it rather addictive – almost crack-pudding. It’s one of the few mind-altering substances you can take for years without any nasty side-effects, unlike Chorley cakes, cowheels, tripe, Eccles cakes, Holland’s pies or Wigan kebabs, all of which when abused chronically can make you look like Peter Kay.

We will probably swing by Southport to see mother, who will express surprise at seeing me but will be totally incapable of recalling who the hell I am. When I visited her last week she launched into what I initially thought was going to be a full and coherent sentence - and possibly the precursor to a short yet semi-lucid conversation. However, it petered out halfway through and descended into a jumbled mumble followed by a beaming, if somewhat imbecilic smile. Hope to hell I never get dementia, although the chances are relatively high if it’s genetic (both her sisters – she is one of triplets – suffered dementia before kicking the bucket).

Hay was busy scouring the interweb last night seeing if she could find a restaurant in the area serving anything more appetising than bread and dripping fricassee with a side dish of pork scratchings nestling on a bed of roughly butchered lettuce. I thought it a foolish enterprise and I doubt they have the interweb there yet; I suspect they’ve only just invented language.

My daughter speaks with a very pronounced Lancashire accent, honed over 30 odd years of scraping an existence in the northern wastes of Slackistan. My ear is attuned to it, having been brought up in West Lancs and having heard the raucous calls of itinerant Lancastrian street pedlars, vagabonds, fakirs and mill owners. Her intended, however, has an almost impenetrable Yorkshire accent (with apologies to Alan Burnett), which requires translation in order for Hay to comprehend a single word.

I have solved the problem by merely nodding sagely and murmuring appreciative noises whenever he utters something incomprehensible. Should he subsequently frown or start making threatening gestures, I switch to a vigorous shaking of the head from side-to-side while tutting. It seems to mollify him. For all I know I may be agreeing that the BNP should run the country and people with cats should be forced into labour camps in Siberia.


  1. Lordy! And they say Londoners are patronising!

    I feel for your mum so helpless and lost xxx

  2. I once stayed in a B&B somewhere in the Peak District, and our room smelled so terribly of almonds that we suspected someone had been poisoned with cyanide. We even checked under the bed, but didn't find a dead body. Turned out the room was 'freshened' with a device that every 15 minutes or so expelled that almond aroma. And yes... energy saving lightbulbs that were not entirely covered by the lamp shades. Lovely.

  3. Your apologies are not accepted for the implied racial insult. Just be assured that whatever the lad may be saying it will be wise.