Last Saturday I had an X Factor and vino date with Becky but she had most inconveniently caused herself a neck injury and a migraine through decorating her bathroom, and so we postponed to the results show the following night. I still don’t understand why she was decorating – she has a husband, so why have a dog and bark for yourself? Anyway, this left me with a Saturday night with nothing to do except catch up with the Dodgy tour, which had stopped off at the throbbing metropolis of Shrewsbury. The rain was absolutely wazzing down, but I figured if I took it easy along the back country lanes (no laughing at the back), it’d be okay. It was, phew.
It was a weird place for Dodgy to play in; the Four Crosses Hotel in the middle of the Shropshire countryside, and it looked more like a mock-Georgian wedding venue than a kicking gig venue. However, I was (unusually) wrong, and it turned out to be fantastic. The room was absolutely packed and the crowd were jumping, the gig was truly fantastic, the whole thing sounded amazing and it was nice to catch up with the boys, as always. I was driving home again (uurgh) so I stayed sober (double uurgh) and stayed just long enough to say ‘hello’, ‘great gig’ and ‘see ya soon’.
During the following week I visited my mate Mark the Yid on Monday, had tea at me Mum’s on Tuesday, went to see Dad and took Bryony out to McDonalds (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it) on Wednesday, had pizza and stayed over at Ann & Tilly’s place on Thursday, and had a wonderful dinner at Marie & Paul’s on friday, which was produced from the River Cottage Garden vegetable cook book I bought for Marie a couple of weeks back. Busy bee, huh? I love it like that, nothing better than catching up with friends and family, and putting the World to rights.
Friday was also birthday day for two of my younger pals. Bryony turned 15 (going on 30), and Tess had her first birthday. I’ve decided that since so many people have birthdays at the end of September and the beginning of October, sex during the Christmas and New Year holidays should be banned. Do your friends and relatives a favour people. If you’re even vaguely fertile, keep your genitals to yourself from mid-December to mid-January this year. Thank you. As you were.
Saturday came, and with it a BRILLIANT weekend ahead in the best city in the entire World – Liverpool. Oh, and I need to point out that you can try to tell me London’s better or Manchester’s better, or that there was this place in South east Asia you saw when you were backpacking in 1994, but you’d be wrong. It’s Liverpool, end of.
Having taken Mum to get her ‘flu jab and helped to change Granny’s bedding and one or two other errands, I finally got to the railway station and on the chuffer to Liddypoolsville. Ahhhhhh, the feeling you get as the train crosses the Runcorn Bridge, and you know you’re nearly there. It’s just the best. I always start to get butterflies as I get to Lime Street (it might well be my liver groaning as it realises what we’re about to do). Once I’m on the station concourse and can feel like I’m really in the city, I take a deep breath in through the nose. A lung full of Liverpool – nothing finer for the constitution.
I met Lis at the uber-swanky Hard Days Night Hotel, where she had very cleverly booked us into the best room the place (in my opinion). Room 402 has a balcony which gives you a view all the way down Mathew Street, from North John Street, past Pink, past the Cavern, past Eric’s, down to the Grapes and so on. At one end of the balcony you can see the Three Graces over the rooftops, and at the other end you can see the iron arch and slated spires of Lime Street station.
In fact the only thing that is wrong with Room 402 is the portrait of Ringo, who’s pervy eyes follow you around the room (shudder).
Having absorbed a bit of luxury in the hotel, Lis and I wandered along Mathew Street, into town and found a table in a pub that sold bottles of plonk for £6. Oh yes please. We polished that off at a fairly alarming rate, and simultaneously caught up on each other’s news and gossip, since we’d not spent time together since July. Then we wandered on to meet some friends at Villa Romana. I hadn’t been there before and have to say, it was gorgeous. Beautiful restaurant, great staff, and the food was out of this world. Four starters, four mains and two bottles of vino came to £80. Can’t say fairer than that, eh? Thoroughly recommended for a belly full of Italian in Liverpool.
We jumped into a cab and got to the venue just in time to get drinks, assume a decent position (as opposed to an indecent one) and wait for the first band of the evening. Damien Dempsey is an absolute powerhouse of a man. He’s more Irish than… well, anything really. There is a school of thought that enthuses that Dempsey is currently the very best singer/songwriter this side of Jupiter. I’m not of that school, but I do think he’s really bloody fantastic. Pretty easy on the eye too (wink nudge).
Then Amsterdam. This is a band I got into accidentally. I had been to a couple of Ian McNabb gigs, at the insistence of my then boyfriend. He told me that he knew I would love McNabb’s music, because “it’s music for lovers, and music lovers”. He was right, and long after he and I split up, I was still going to McNabb gigs. I met a few new friends at those gigs (Lis being one of them), and some of those people suggested that I would also like Amsterdam – a celtic, folk, rock, punk, rollercoaster that was a bit of the Clash, a bit of Dexy’s and a whole lot of Ian Prowse, their brilliant frontman.
So, then Amsterdam came on stage and my stomach turned with excitement. Some of the best BEST gigs I’ve ever seen in my whole life have been Amsterdam gigs. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of all kinds of gigs, and I’m not easy to please musically, so that’s quite an accolade. Saturday night’s show did not disappoint, it was blinding. You just cannot fail to be turned on by an eight piece band like Amsterdam, but if you do fail, call an undertaker. All my favourites were on the set list, as well as new material I’ve never heard before and am looking forward to hearing again. I sang along, clapped, stomped, laughed, cried and squealed with delight. Luckily for me, Lis filmed almost all of it on her fantastic new little Cisco FlipVideo gizmo. To top it all off, we met up with a huge bunch of friends, old and new, some we expected, and others we just didn’t know would turn up and it was a wonderful surprise to see them.
After the gig, Lis and I walked a little way through the city with Dave and Chris, and then we girls peeled off to walk towards Mathew Street. Saturday nights on Mathew Street are always pretty raucous affairs (think Hogarth’s “Gin Lane“), and so we decided to walk along through the mayhem, to our hotel. We saw one immaculately turned out girl in a fabulous red dress, with full WAG tan and make up, long ringlets and a handbag that probably cost more than my car. As we got level with her, she staggered, leaned against a littler bin, sicked up into her own mouth, held it in with her hand, and swallowed it back down. That, ladies and gents, is true class. Once back inside the Hard days Night, we peeled off to the left into Bar Four. A bloke at the bar ordered two cognacs, which were served heated over a flame, and cost him about £30. Bloody hell. We ordered a pair of rum and Cokes and sat down quickly for more gossip and some priceless people watching. Feeling suitably rummed up and snoozy, we eventually wobbled off to our lovely room, and got all jimjammed up. Having had a final pillow-based gossip, it was lights out and the end of what had been a wonderful night out with a much-loved friend.
We woke late and after we had taken our turns in the shower and got dressed, we wandered through Liverpool a bit more. We breakfasted at Patisserie Valerie – one of a small chain of Belgian patisseries that seem to be popping up here and there. After a mini shopping spree en route to Lime Street (all Lis – I was entirely innocent of this) we acquired tea and coffee and hopped onto our train. A slightly sad journey back after such a smashing time, but we chattered away nevertheless and before we knew it, it was time for me to leave Lis at Crewe, and she then carried on to Birmingham, and onward to deepest, darkest Berkshire. A happy time had by both.
Once home I was able to catch up with Facebook, sort my bag out, spend some time with the cat (who didn’t seem to have noticed I was away) and speak to my pal Ann, who had gossip to share. After a long phonecall, catching up with each other’s news, we decided it would be easier for me to pop over there, so we could natter and watch the X Factor results. With bellies full of KFC, we settled in to shout at the telly, especially that Kitty one who needs a metaphorical thump in the gob, as far as I’m concerned. There’s no-one really grabbing me from this year’s finalists so far. We’ll see…
Much silliness and hilarity at Ann & Tilly’s place as usual, and then Spooks. I haven’t been able to watch Spooks since an episode years ago where the ‘baddy’ put one of the Spooks faces into a chip shop deep fat fryer. She came out screaming, fried and disfigured and when eventually she passed out from the agony, the ‘baddy’ shot her in the head. This gave me terrible dreams for ages, and so I have never watched it since. However, this episode was fantastic! Shame it’s the last series. Fucking typical.
This morning, Ann introduced me to something else I’ve never had. Tinned spaghetti and fried egg on toast. When I admitted I’ve never tried this combination, she called me a “Southern Poof”. I can now say with some certainty that having had tinned spaghetti and fried egg on toast, and having declared it delicious, I am now both thoroughly Northern and utterly heterosexual. Eeeeh…
This afternoon I went to pick up the lovely Lucy, and we went into Hanley to sample the food at a brilliant little caff she has discovered and insisted I sample too. She was SO right. Lángos (pronounced lahn-gosh) is a tiny little Hungarian caff, tucked away at the back of the market under the Potteries Shopping Centre. It is named after the traditional Hungarian flatbread that makes up much of the menu there. It’s the sort of thing you can have with cheese, sausage and garlic as a savoury meal, or with chocolate spread and ice cream as a dessert. Delicious doesn’t even come close. Lucy and I had goulash which was pretty much the most amazing tasting dish I have tasted in years. We drank hot apple and maple tea, and then had lángos for dessert. Lucy ordered hers with chocolate spread and banana, and I ate mine with honey and vanilla ice cream. Two meals, two desserts, two hot drinks, less than £10. Perfection. If ever you’re in the Stoke area, try Lángos. It looks like a tiny little teapot and toast style caff, but serves top notch restaurant food at soup kitchen prices.
So now I’m home and I don’t think I’ll be moving from this seat at any point soon. The weather’s gone a bit biblical, there are Jack Russel dogs flying past at some altitude, and all the trees have gone a bit horizontal. The cat’s wandering round with eyes like saucers, like something off a Halloween poster.
I’ve done quite enough gallivanting just lately, across four counties and covering many, many topics of conversation, many types of food and drink, a handful of music genre and with some of the loveliest people I know. It occurs to me tonight, as I relax on my own with my thoughts, that just like everyone else I have my problems, issues and things that go AARRGH in the night, but I have to say that I am a very lucky girl indeed. Thank you so very much to everyone who makes my life so lovely, and bollocks to all the rest… 😉
Weather: buy a chin strap for your wig, probably best if you don’t go out with a big umbrella. Just saying.