I don't work any more because I don't work any more.
Standard class? What’s happening? I actually chose to mix it with the great unwashed for two times 2 hours and ten-minute of a train journey. How did I survive? There were people walking past me flocking to the buffet car for their over-priced burgers and sugary fizzy drinks. I had to make do with a miniature bottle of wine (3 for £5 from Morrison; bargain) and no-one brought me food.
Oh, hang on; I was saving money and my fellow passengers were delightful and chatty. I didn’t even notice the higher noise level or the lack of snooty looks at my earthy demeanour. I like the first class service but this time it was a means to an end. Just get me up to Liverpool.
Getting on the train at Euston, you immediately notice the relaxed friendly ambience as most of the passengers are blessed with the Merseyside manner. People in East Sussex are friendly, the station staff at T. Wells are brilliant; the guards love to chat. But that oh so familiar manner tying me to my roots is like going home to a roaring coal fire.
I had a little roam around town, visiting Mattas the world food shop and having a half of Thatchers in the old Blacklers; now a Wetherspoons.
It’s not the most graceful fate for one of Liverpool’s most iconic shops. Those of us of a certain age have wonderful memories of Blackler’s at Christmas time. The whole shop was open plan and just glittered with seasonal excitement.
Looking around the rest of town, the great sadness emanates from the old Lewis’ building. All that personal history.
My mum worked there as a statistical clerk. Mum’s wizardry with numbers was legendary. She used a slide-rule; enough said, calculators were big heavy things with a handle.
Some shops used those little tubes shooting about the higher levels, flying to the accounts department. I’ve no idea which ones; I just remember it.
Of course, my days were planned. The first stop was Wetherspoons in Liscard, complete with its boardings from a recent traffic incident.
It’s an old supermarket; Safeway then Netto. The original Safeway had a deli counter. We’d die for the Russian salad. It felt stylish and sophisticated. For years, it was Mum’s place. My mates Slash and Peter worked there stacking shelves and running the groceries. It cemented the shop as part of Wallasey’s fabric.
But at the turn of the century, Safeway was beginning to fade. Within no time, the Wetherspoon’s emerged as an iconic substitute. One could argue that it’s full of deadheads but bollocks to that. It’s disabled friendly and the Mersey manner prevails.
All that carefully planned diet was destroyed in one day with luscious amounts of fat and carbohydrate with chips. I’d had a pastie for lunch as well. Glorious.
Here are Gail and Christine.
Then despite all the indulgence, I got myself into Andy’s car. Get in! Well, I did.
Then what happened? Peter and Jean turned up in the bar. Liverpool were beating Barcelona. How mad. Oh, what jolly times.
We saw the famous Magritte chair.
The rest of the week was mapped out:
Wednesday, a day of relaxation and little alcohol. Met this wonderful creature for lunch.
I’m sure someone piled their empty glasses onto our table.
Julie disappeared for a bit and came back with this.
Isn’t she wicked? I watched The Great British Menu and a thing about police in London. I do love a reality cops and robbers. There was football too.
Thursday was lunch again with my cousin Pat and Denis. They haven’t changed. They have children to be proud of and their gentle humour calms any savage beast.
Like me, they have travelled and discovered new worlds within and without our fair shores. We don’t brag about it. It just becomes part of our conversation.
Remember the days when that flash couple from number 46 came back from their annual February trip to the Canaries? They rarely spoke to you all year but they were ever so keen to share present their winter tans and share the prices at Ricco’s doubles bar with you.
I came back from Australia once in January. I was beautifully tanned but I felt out of place. It made me laugh. Unfortunately, the photo I took seemed to disappear from the memory card so here’s one I took earlier.
The evening was spent with the MacLeods. I will publish the recipes soon because the food was just wonderful. Our best yet. Jeanie’s ginger cake could start a war.
It’s funny cooking with Pete and Jean. There is a lot of thin ice to walk gingerly over. Suffice to say, the healthy discussion and claims of right and wrong ways are often met with an air of flippancy.
Middle-eastern food with its breads, dips and tagines is a real party maker.
Or was that the wine, the G&T or the Talisker? Wevs; it was memorable.
I wasn’t woolly the next day. I was full of the joys of spring, eagerly anticipating the adventures of a trip back home. Fact:
There are people with hangovers and there are liars.
But the trip was good. The presentation of a bacon butty in the hotel was a saver.
Euston to Charing Cross was its usual delight. I had a purseful of change to offer to those asking and it all went. The last £2.00 was given to the man at the station. Here’s the journey in pictures: