Dabbling in Naval Terror whilst eating chips at the Golden Ball
I’m doing it again.
Delighting and positively revelling in misery, jumping into big muddy puddles of horror with a splash and a grin and savouring each little drop of disenchantment and despair.
And eating chips.
This makes it even better.
It would have been cheesy chips but I’m on a diet.
It is not a very good diet to be fair.
Ironically enough, I hate all that stupid misery porn so popular with idiots nowadays. Books with titles like ‘A Figure Over My Cot’ or ‘Please, Mummy, Stop’.
Why the hell would anyone wish to read stories of abuse and misery?
I sigh sadly to myself before picking up a book about murdered prostitutes in Victorian London. That is different- it was foggy, long ago and there were gas lamps and corsets involved which makes it far less prurient and slightly more sexy. I’m sure you understand.
Anyway, I am eating breakfast chips at The Golden Ball in Lancaster, known for centuries as Snatchems for the delicious and horrific fact that people who used to drink here were often press-ganged.
Imagine a really shit hangover.
There is no liquid left in your body. You are scooping with shaky hands, 9p economy curry flavoured noodles into your parched arid mouth. You cannot find a spoon.
The noodles are slightly underdone and have a slimily crunchy texture like a nest of tarantulas that have been both rotting and baking under an Arizona sun. The Hollyoaks omnibus is on the telly and it is on too loud but you can’t be arsed to look for the remote.
You need to be leave for work in ten minutes.
That is definitely a shit hangover.
Now imagine this.
You were having a night of much diversion in The Golden Ball Public House-some fellows came and gave you strong ale and many songs were sang and much merriment was to be had. There were fiddles and raucousness and ale kept arriving in heavy foaming jars. You had new friends, new jokes to definately not tell the Missus and a glorious feeling of well-being.
You wake up and you are still, yet moving – timbers creak, the air is freezing, your head pounds and you try to find a place to urinate, stagger up and up to find that Lancaster lies behind you, disappearing mistily by the second, vanquished by grey angry waves.
There is nothing at all to be seen in front of you apart from more of the same.
And for seemingly eternally so.
Your wife and children will be waiting for you and not know what has happened. You have no phone because they do not exist and you cannot even write. Your wife is broad with child.
You will probably never see her again. Disease and death stalks these rotting planks.
A man appears across the deck. He does not smile and carries a whip. More figures start to merge through the freezing driving rain that drives sideways across the deck.
You have been press-ganged.
That is definitely a shitter hangover.
For the slaves that entered and left here, or just died unmourned and left in the quayside morgue that is now The George and Dragon across the river, I suspect Lancaster was never a place of beauty.
The Golden Ball Freehouse has featured on Most Haunted, possibly has the cheapest house wine in Lancaster and also a loyalty card and a new conservatory. These are generally twisty old rooms though, you go down stairs from the carpark to enter the bar area and a big dog is shouting somewhere very nearby.
We are surrounded by estuary, claggy bleak estuary and this pub is sometimes cut off by the tides, seaweed hangs shrivelled and drying from barbed wire fences guarding nothing. Across the River Lune, Lancaster Castle soars and looks fantastic and I sit here and am happily horrified at the thought of old misery.
And the chips are very good and crispy and only £1.65.