Last Friday, (May bank holiday weekend, 2016) Jan and I set off to see our friends Natasha and Darren, who live in the North at Lytham St Anne’s not far from Blackpool. The M25 was as usual packed with lorries, cars and caravans because of the bank-holiday. However, we eventually reached the M6 and opted to travel on the toll road at Birmingham. With less traffic it was a pleasure to drive but once we re-joined the M6 it was bumper to bumper for mile after endless mile. A journey that should have taken us about four hours took just under eight hours. The hotel though, was very nice with generous accommodation in each bedroom. Our room was so big it contained a huge comfy sofa as well as a king size bed, large wing-backed chairs and two large mirror-box occasional tables. After settling in we went straight to the lounge bar for several drinks to drown the memories of that horrendous journey.
In just a few minutes we were joined by our friends Tasha & Darren. Darren had lived in the town all his life, and seemed to know everyone. It was nice that so many people stopped to say a friendly “hello” as soon as they saw him. Even the Jack the barman, shouted “Hi Darren” as he started pouring a pint of draft Guinness; which is Darren’s usual and favourite drink. Tasha had booked a table for us at the hotel. The meal was a bit too fancy for my liking, but again the staff members were extremely polite, friendly and very professional. I had calves liver, which was very stringy, but that aside we had a wonderful evening. Darren and I reminisced about how the world has changed since we were young. Darren explained that later in the summer the whole of Lytham, turns out to celebrate St. Andrews Day and that celebration lasts five days. Something for everyone, of all ages, from folk songs for old wrinkles like me to more modern stuff for the younger residents of the town.
The following day, we spent a pleasant time wandering the high street into the town square. We were surprised that complete strangers looked you in the eye and said “good morning” with a friendly smile. I was so very impressed with the whole ambiance of the town. Later Tasha suggested that she and Jan went shopping, while Darren and I frequented one or two of the local hostelries. I was of course heartbroken at that suggestion, but being a stalwart of the old school agreed.
“The Taps” was a fine old ale house where once more everyone seemed to know Darren, I got into conversations with complete strangers who obviously were Darren’s friends or acquaintances. We had a great time.
Amazingly there was one old guy sitting in the corner of the garden that I thought I had seen before when I worked in Hackney. He was dishevelled and unkempt with long hair and a stained matted beard. He was still drinking cider after all those years. I had seen him drinking cider so much in Stoke Newington that he more-or-less couldn’t swallow. I was tempted to go over and say hello, but reason cautioned – he would not remember me from forty years ago and did I really want to remake that acquaintance? I decided, no.
Would I go back to Lytham St Anne’s? – yes I would – in a heartbeat.