Saturday, 19 June 2010

North Western Hospitality

I was looking forward to my fish and chips in Cleveleys, followed by a gentle stroll along the seafront on this perfect cloudless day. It was not to be.

The place was heaving with trippers. There was one ridiculously small coach drop-off bay, which already had two buses in it. I had to drop the ladies at the bus station around the corner, subjecting myself to unfriendly glares from the double decker service drivers whose bays I was blocking.

The seafront was packed with buses and there was nowhere to park, so I drove two miles out of town and parked in a residential street. My fish and chips went for a burton. The only parade of shops for miles offered a corner shop with a closed kebab shop on one side and a boarded up off-license called The Offy on the other.

My lunch ended up consisting of discounted to 75p Chunky Turkey Breast pieces and some little known brand of German chocolate. Everything else in the shop was sugary.

"I want sweeties, and I want them now," yelled the spoilt four old in the queue in front of me.

"Well you can't have them, luv," the mother gently told the child. "You've got heatstroke and you know sweeties won't make your heatstroke any better."

The child amazingly quietened and nodded in agreement. I made a mental note to try that one on my two girls the next time they demand sweets.

I looked around the estate I had accidentally found myself in. It was a different world. It looked very poor, and yet so close to one of Britain's most visited tourist spots. England mania had gripped the area. Flags flew outside most houses and on the roofs of most cars. Everyone wore a red football shirt. Many women seemed to have died red hair and many men had the St George's Cross died into their David Beckham No.2 cut.

I returned to the different world of Cleveleys and immediately seemed to be met with trouble. Two old age pensioners who were minding their own business walking gently along the pavement, for no apparent reason fell over backwards into the road, landing very close to my bus.

Crunched mirror. Fluffy bunny ears. Falling pensioners. Was this day jinxed?

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