Thursday, June 22, 2006

Weekend in the crime capital of the universe



Originally uploaded by joellaflickr.

We went to Nottingham at the weekend to visit K, the littlest fruit of M's loins. It's the crime capital of the North Midlands or something, but somehow its reputation escalated in my mind over the weekend even though Nothing Bad Actually Happened.

What Did Actually Happen was mostly lots of fun. We visited several fine pubs. The one we liked best is pictured -- apparently it's run by Christians but I saw no obvious evidence of this. We visited another one which is actually in a deconsecrated church, but that one was definitely more hen party than Holy Father.

We had a v cool ninth floor room in the Park Plaza, which also had funky lifts and an ice machine (what more do you *need* in a hotel?), and after a break for Doctor Who, skyline admiration and mini bar gin and tonic (HOW MUCH?) we headed back out.

Wow. Downtown Nottingham on a Saturday night is not for the faint hearted. Average age: 21. Average % of flesh covered: 21. Average number of Bacardi Breezers consumed: 21. We picked our way through the carnage as nightclub touts looked through us and girls fell off their shoes all around.

Just as I was beginning to wonder if in fact I had woken up in a world where my existence was entirely irrelevant, an Indian man stopped us to admire my outfit (I was wearing an apple green shawl I bought in Delhi), and I decided all was not lost. We had some Indian beer to celebrate, which we drank looking out of tall French windows into the back yards of tall, once elegant Victorian red brick buildings. And this was in a *no smoking pub*. Verily the world doth change.

Well, some of it. The next day we found ourselves the only customers in a pub in Bestwood Colliery village, having walked there through Bestwood Country Park. The colliery's been gone since 1967, and I'm not sure the pub's been decorated since. Are you doing food? we asked. Well, said the barman (who last went to the dentist also circa 1967), you won't get a dinner. Sandwiches? we said. Well, he said, I haven't any bread.

Pause.

But I have got cobs. (Aka baps, northerners! I don't know what the southern word is). Great! we said. What fillings do you have? Well, he said. Ham. Cheese.

Pause.

Ham and cheese.

Great! we said. We'll have one cheese, and one ham and cheese. K? K said she was all right, she'd had an egg for breakfast. Oh, he said, I've got an egg as well. No, that's fine, we said.

Pause. Long, long pause. I imagined him making a nice cheese bap with cheddar in, a little side salad, maybe some crisps.

He brought out one square bap with a square of cheese, and another square bap with a square of cheese and a square of ham. Happy Father's Day! said K. We all snorted shandy out our noses.

I quite like Nottingham, on reflection.

joella

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