17 February 2009

I suspect Jeeves would approve

Last night I went to Rochdale for my first time, despite having been warned by a couple of friends that I ought not to get my hopes up. That being as it may, I said, there are people there I've not seen in far too long, one of whom I tend to miss terribly, and she being the sort to make one think life is most definitely worth living, I felt a trip north was long overdue.

It was an interesting evening, to say the least, starting with the train journey where the Driver apparently coughed rather than announcing the names of each stops. Well, he may just have had trouble enunciating properly, which is a shame, as Oldham Mumps, Shaw & Crompton, and Milnrow are names that demand proper proclamation. Still, he rummaged deep down and found enough vowels and consonants to master 'Rochdale' moments before arriving.

The Kittybrewster met me at the station and we ambled towards a hostelry to meet her people, passing the improbably named Egyptian Palace on the way, and with a suitable gesture towards the impressive town hall, with its Waterhouse-designed tower that Hitler supposedly took a shine to back in the day. I'm not sure when -- perhaps he took a day trip to Rochdale during his almost certainly apocryphal sojourn in Liverpool?

Into the pub then, where drinks were bought before we settled outside, there to be danced at and serenaded by a young lady, more than a bit tipsy, whose trousers were undone and who casually gulped my pint, oblivious to my frown and the beseeching wails of her neglected boyfriend. She left after a while, as were to do soon enough, shortly after some local wags had hurled a bottle at a fellow drinking a few yards from us.

On then, past sinister alley after sinister alley, each one crying out for a police procedural show, and to a thrillingly concealed and deeply welcoming Smiths pub, where the Kittybrewster's Comrade-in-Arms was overcome by a vigorous and apparently interminable bout of hiccups. The day was saved, however, when the wonderful barmaid approached us with a broad smile and a mysterious brown object on a plate, insisting it be eaten. Eaten it was, and the hiccups were banished.

The object? A slice of lemon, sprinked with brown sugar and dowsed in Worcester sauce. Apparently it works every time. You learn something new every day, they say.

Clutching a couple of chortlesome gifts I joined the brigade in making our way to one last pub for one last drink, which may have seemed a tad extravagant, but given that I'll hardly be touching a drop over the next few months, that's surely fair enough.

Finally then off we went to the station for hugs and kisses and fond farewells. It was a fine night, and an all too rare pleasure. I shall have to return soon, if I'll be had.

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