The North. I’ve had some top times up there and some truly terrible times…
Leeds is an outstanding place if you like pole dancing and transsexual DJ’s taking the piss out of you for dancing to “Baggy Trousers”. Newcastle is fantastic for politeness, red wine on tap and the world’s largest assortment of sequined ‘Gunts’. I went to Newcastle once with the Horse and the first thing I saw when leaving the train station was a queue coming out of a ‘Greggs’… it set the tone…
Then there’s Bolton and Wigan. Wigan is worse than Bolton in my view. Drab and depressing it offers little in the way of humour or, dare I say it ‘fun’. It is grey.
Sheffield is a lovely City that I’ve spent a lot of time in as Jen’s family are from it however generally I’m not a Northern person… I’m a Londoner and have low tolerance for stranger interaction, whippets, pigeons, lard cakes and coal.
And so I find myself sitting in a car with The Spaniard and Bunny heading North to the beautiful hamlet of Glossop for more two wheeled punishment arranged by the torturer Bunyan on a rocky Peak District trail. ‘Why?’ you ask, well that’s easy. Never let pain and temporary disablement get in the way of a great laugh.
For some reason we head off on a Wednesday night. It’s a bit of a trek and we arrive late to the slight annoyance of the Farmers wife who is providing the accommodation. We apologise and she shows us to our rooms. In a stroke of genius Bunny has isolated The Spaniard in his own cell as we can no longer suffer the comedy snoring. We are not keen to dig a hole on the moors at midnight so it’s best all round that he goes into solitary at night.
We then head out for a few pints to get an idea of the locale. It’s a recon trip really with no high expectations as tomorrow we ride…
We don’t venture too far and find a purpose built, flat fronted pub. We walk in and discover that it’s a chrome and neon tribute to New Orleans Jazz. Normally we’d be out the door in a flash but time marches on and we need watering.
We sit down and my associates start talking to some yokels about the local nightlife in preparation of our assault on it tomorrow night. Bunny and the Spaniard excel at this stuff. I’m not as accommodating with strangers and particularly ones outside of the M25 as my default position is to tell people to ‘fuck off’. Bun and the Spaniard are different. I don’t know anyone who dislikes them whereas some members of my own family don’t like me much…. No matter… their loss.
We sinks a few pints and Bun reckons he knows the score for the following night so we return to the farmhouse to sleep…perchance to dream.
We wake early and are fed mostly animal pieces by the farmer’s wife. She’s not a young woman and looks hardened to a Glossop winter. She strikes me as the type of women who could happily castrate a goat while baking some bread.
We head off to tackle the Peak District which the Devil describes as a ‘piece of piss’. We don’t believe him but it turns out he was telling the truth. We have a glorious day tackling the mountains with no real problems at all. We are hardened from our one other trip and this is a lovely ride around with few problems.
We’re out for a few hours and the legs and internal organs are standing up well. We descend a hill on a sweeping tarmac road directly next to Coniston Water. It’s a lovely, chilly, sunny afternoon and as we reach a corner a stone built pub appears as if planted there by Jeebus himself. Naturally we stop to refresh ourselves in the cool sun.
We spend the rest of the day acting professionally and cycling about until we follow the road back through stunning scenery to the car and a journey back to the farm. We have the taste for beer.
We get back and the farmer’s wife appears happier to see us. She’s seems used to us cockney scum now, either that or she’s lined up a ‘Straw Dogs’ style beasting at midnight and is lulling us into a false sense of security.
“..Going out in t’town tonight lads?” she says through farmer’s wife teeth where her tongue looks like a prisoner.
“..Indeed you aged and toothless old Northern Crone..” says I…
“..It is our intention to avail ourselves of Ale and vittles’ at any one of a number of the humble hostelries in the town centre. Can you recommend one that will provide the necessary sustenance delivered by a buxom, accommodating, rosy cheeked Glossop lass?”
Clearly I’m paraphrasing for comedic affect. The reality was more “Yeah…. Now fuck off and leave me alone”… y’know? The traditional London greeting.
Bun tells her we are heading off after we’ve showered and she gives him a key and cackles a disturbing cackle. I look at the Spaniard who is adopting full rat face while licking his lips and twitching his nose…. He’s got the taste… Glossop could be in trouble.
We set out from the farm to walk into town. It’s a damp, dark night with a slight misty hint. We spot a traditional looking boozer in the near distance. There’s a warm glow to it and it looks promising. We get to the door and I pull the handle. I step inside and stop as there’s another internal door presumably to keep the heat in…. I look down and then I see it.
On the mat between the doors is a fully loaded condom. It’s like a used piping bag. We all stop and soak up this vision. We all look at each other in silence and then look at it again. To me it looks fresh and I’m tempted to touch it in order to assess its warmth. I don’t actually touch it but my mind tends to work like this when I’m in shock…I need all the information to really believe it. We seem to have been in the doorway quite a while now and so in order to move things along I push on, stepping over this tribute to the cockneys, clearly left by a frantic local, to enter the Saloon bar.
We’re in… It looks bleak.
A lone barman sits on a stool by the bar top flap. It looks empty from this side but there’s a Rive Gauche whiff of life from the other side of the bar. The barman approaches. He looks ex-military, wiry and brutal…
“..Are you t’London lads?” He says…
“…Yes mate…” I say, hitting maximum London. It would appear the whole town knows who we are. It’s chilling and I start eyeing up table legs and ashtrays as makeshift weapons. In my distracted moment the Spaniard steps forward and smooches the Bar Oaf to death as only he can until the bloke is eating out the palm of his hand. I’m lead away by Bunny…
We sit down to plan the night. Bunny’s work on the locals the previous night has revealed a nightclub and a curry house that we must go to. It’s hard to imagine that this shithole has a ‘must see’ venue but we are here so intend to live the dream.
After a few pints it’s evident that men are at a premium in this pub, in fact we appear to be it. I look about and feel that the assembled ‘females’ are a bit overly done up with a lot of flesh on show for a Thursday night in a low level pub in a low level town.
The Spaniard returns with another round and informs us that the barman has told him that Thursday night is ‘Ladies night’.
“He seems to think we are in luck” says the Spaniard…. We all stop and look about the pub. It’s a skin and bone car crash. We’re only lucky if we have deliberately travelled here to breed with the offerings in this place. There’s a lot of silver based skimpy clothing, heavy blue eye make-up and everyone seems to be older than us. They all smoke, smell of cheap perfume and drink vodka with ham hock arms and mottled ‘cankles’. It’s no surprise to us that the men are elsewhere, most likely teetering on the edge of chairs with their belts around their necks. Bunny surveys the scene… His face says ‘I have a dogshit under my nose’… no one from London in this pub is impressed.
We drink up and move on to a groan of sequined disappointment.
By the time we decide to take on the night club we are nicely alight. It’s only about nine o’clock but we need a new angle and slight break from the guzzling. We’ve been to a few similar pubs and its all very samey so the inevitable comedy of a Glossop nightclub is needed.
We approach a neon lit building we are told is the place. It’s called ‘Prohibitions’ or ‘Aces’ or something equally naff like that. On the door we are confronted by a shaved gorilla dressed in black. He’s a big boy with a goatee and an earpiece with curly cable disappearing into his collar. He got that mark of real quality on his arm…. The Bouncer Brotherhood card. He’s friendly in that ‘don’t fuck me about or you’re dead’ kind of way and after looking us up and down and checking through the door he allows us through to the darkness of club. It’s £3.50 to enter which should be all the warning we needed to turn around and leave £3.50 up.
Inside the place is ‘Banging’. I believe this is the correct term as my experience of clubs is usually looking after the coats and drinks while ripping the piss out of the monsters at a ‘rock’ night in Camden. The music is loud, the DJ is giving it plenty and the lights are swirling around. The walls, adorned with zebra pattern wallpaper, are dripping in condensation due to the heat in the place. The barman is visible in silhouette only and is spinning bottles like Tom Cruise in the 80’s. The place is on fire… there’s only one problem…
..We are the only punters here…
There’s me, Bun, The Spaniard, a DJ, a Barman and a mirror ball. There’s a hint of movement in a booth by the wall but it could be vermin or worse some ‘ladies’ on the bespoke night out. Whatever it is it’s not looking for interaction which is a good thing. We can’t even fall back on chatting to each other due to the level of the volume whacked up to enhance the dulcet tones of ‘Yazz’ from ten years previous. After one bottle we leave.
We pass the gorilla on exit and he’s chipper.
“Dern’t wurry lads… I’ll remember your ferces… cum back anytime lerter and you can go straight through…no extra charge…”
Fantastic….. a freebie to a hell hole…. He knows we’ll be back…We know we’ll be back….
En route to another Pub, the Spaniard drags us I into the previously mention best Curry House in Glossop. Bob politely engages with a very small, sleepy waiter to book a table for later when the drinking is done. The waiter looks shifty and surveys the empty restaurant. He’s clearly working out where he can squeeze us in later. The Spaniard books us a table and we go for one last mini session to close off the evening.
When we leave the final pub we are well oiled but starving hungry. We head back to the curry house via the club with the free entry. The Gorilla nods at us on the way like we are regulars and in and we head through the gloom to the dance floor…
The place is still ‘Banging’… the DJ is knocking out ‘Ride on time’ at a ferocious volume and the barman is engaged in conversation with three hefty lumps at the bar in dresses. I look about and count the crowd.
Six punters including us.
Worryingly the three lumps have noticed us three. It’s a 1:1 ratio in their heads but judging by the forearms of the first one she’s a three man job and we are unlikely to win. We are their ticket out of this place. We bolt for the door and head to for a curry all the while hearing the Gorilla letting us know that we can come back later for free….
We get to the curry house just after 2330 hours… The Spaniard is already embarrassed by our lateness and so is preparing humbleness on a grand scale. We pile in expecting to be told its over and wake up the waiter…. It’s empty. I’m not sure they’ve cooked anything here tonight but we appreciate him remaining open for us.
We sit down and he’s all over us. The Indian beer arrives with the menus. I look around the table. We are a mess. The Spaniard is all mouth open with his glasses on the end of his nose with occasional of Rat face traces. Bunny is at the raised eyebrow, trying to focus stage and I know I’m adopting the punch up face. I only have two drunk faces. ‘Punch up’ or ‘Happy Moron’ but as I can feel no smiling I assume it’s the former.
We survey the menu. In a box to the bottom under ‘Specialities’ it says ‘The Golden Special’.
‘Three Golden Specials and pillau?’ says Bun…. We all nod in agreement, too pissed and too hungry too argue. The Cobra flows and the chefs peer out from the kitchen like we are royalty. We are loud…loud but friendly.
The food arrives. It’s a murky brown lump of stuff. It’s at this point that I’m wondering what meat is involved in the sludge… it might have been a better idea to have sussed this first. I receive my gruel and roll a spoon through it. It is meaty. That’s good. It’s a dark meat which indicates Lamb but hang on, that was white meat and clearly chicken. Two meats? …Sweet Jeebus…A prawn!! This won’t end well.
Bow down before ‘The Golden Special’.
Lamb, Chicken and Prawn in an unctuous heavily spiced ‘rocketing shits’ based gravy. I dive in, too hungry to care about the consequences in the morning…
We all lap it up and thank the waiter with a heavy London tip… we have no class. His handshakes says ‘Friends for life’ but he’ll forget us before the cash enters the till. We head back to the farm and collapse in our beds.
I wake late to the smell of the farm…. But it’s not the farm. It’s us. We are in a bit of bother here. I make it to the toilet which Bunny has just left… There ain’t no 15 minute waiting time here. Desperate times mean desperate measures and I’m in with Bun’s fug. Waking up when I did was a good idea as my brain had issued the command of ‘everyone out’ and timer was rolling.
After a challenging 20 minutes I crawl from the kharzki… I look at Bunny lying on the bed in a sheen of sweat. ‘Hot Brown Dulux?’ Says I. He shamefully nods like I’ve suggested a cuddle. ‘Are you capable of driving back?’, He issues another nod.
The Spaniard joins us. He’s unusually pale for a man from the Med. He’s oozing a face that has delivered three litres of Galaxy Hot Chocolate to the sewer. We are brothers bonded by mud….
We pack up and head away much to the relief of the window opening farmer’s wife. She’ll burn those mattresses…they are no longer fit for purpose.
The drive back is hilariously teenage. We stop on several occasions just for fumigation purposes. Glossop has brought us to our knees, we will never return.
I still wonder how warm that condom was….