Self pity, chips and Lancaster

It is recession time and it is bleak. Remember when this blog was started? Unless you are my mum you probably do not. I wrote about boutique hotels in major cities, I critisied canapés and described third courses in words stolen from Sunday newspapers. Now I have a baby, no money and a part time public sector job. I am a vox pox of 2011 and my roof is leaking, the camera is broken and to cut a long whining story short, my blog has not been updated in a while, I can’t afford to go anywhere so I will walk around Lancaster with a pushchair and hope for something exciting to happen.

Hmm, nothing exciting has happened as yet. I walk past the quay where there were gypsies camped but they have left it relatively clean. Apart, surprisingly from a baby bath.

The quay is wonderful to me and I try to walk past it every day-I like its urban dereliction, shattered boats, adverts for long defunct businesses and the history behind these mammoth facial slabs of building-behind which now lie broken office chairs, badgers, feral cats and tumbling nature. The river Lune shoots past, grey and angry possibly because it is heading towards Morecambe and nobody likes Morecambe on a bleak October day. Sorry Flotsam. Sorry Jetsam. You were washed down here from the more cerebral heights of the Lake District and now are passing a grave to British industry. To the right across the river is Skerton, which makes these 19th century derelict warehouses look positively antiquely charming.  Over there lies all concrete ‘office space’ where nobody has taken an office, snarled up roads and an enormous spaceship Asda to which I am attracted to more than I should be.

But we are still firmly on the left side and so we pass the Maritime Museum, a wonderful pillared place, formerly the town hall and a place I spend so much time in, the staff recognise me. My baby’s first words will hopefully be anchor. It is a cosy place where people are pleasant at all times, has a changing room full of painted fish and a quiet café where you will always be chatted to. There are wooden replicas of ships, terrifyingly realistic 18th century figures rolling barrels (one of which I rather fancy) canal boats you can sit on and one for the children, a replica stagecoach where a disembodied voice narrates the deaths of people who traveled the treacherous sinking sand of Morecambe bay.

I should really take the baby to Stay and Play sessions at the nursery a bit more but I want him to be aware of mortality and also I don’t have to make asinine conversation about the weight and cleverness of other babies. He seems to like it anyway.

We walk along over the Millennium Bridge, a wonderful piece of architecture shaped like a ship’s sail which everyone else in Lancaster hated and is still a feature in angry letters to the Lancaster Guardian along with the traditional favourites of dog poo and cyclists.

In town, filled with happiness on this bright Autumnal day, I enter a charity shop and then leave frozen and still by the talk of misery, illness and death and also by the prices on bobbly Primark dresses.

We go to NICE, a bar and café that unlike most others on the high street does not offer pie, chips and peas for under four quid. And thus the middleclass flock to it.

It has quotes from clever books embossed on the wall, Japanese beer on draught, sporadic poetry and music events in the next room, an art gallery overhead and an air of well-fed middle class gentility. A meal is about a quid more than a large house red and nearly as good- think date based cous cous recipes with foreign names for under six quid. Think women in Monsoon clothing with large lattes and a general sense of wellbeing.

I prefer The Merchants pub next door but the baby hates it because it is dark and thus bedtime. It is underground, an old wine merchants, does the best chips known to humanity and has a variety of newspapers. It is my idea of Nirvana and I miss rainy Sundays there very much and is the only reason I resent the baby sometimes. I like the combination of students, alcoholics and random people who have missed a train (possibly due to alcoholism)

Sometimes it has the Evening Standard or The Scotsman left by a weary (alcoholic) commuter which makes it a portal into another glamorous world when you did not have a baby in a pram you can’ t quite fold up, a bank balance that equals zero and memories of when a meal out was not eaten with fingers in a cold Northerly wind and your life did not take place within half a mile. I blame the Conservatives. Because they are easier to blame than contraceptives and far far less cuter than babies.  And in short, just because I can.

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