Thursday, March 24

Easter and a four day holiday

Ahh. Bank Holidays. Invented to line the pockets of DIY superstores and garden centres. It’s either that or spend your time sitting in traffic jams both ways going to and coming back from somewhere you’ll be disappointed with. Just the same as the other half of the population of Britain.

I’ve got things planned this Easter. I just know the weather will be poor, I know the roads will be clogged and the queues for the DIY stores and supermarkets will look like the German retreat from Stalingrad. So I bought some panelling for the bathroom a month ago and paint and adhesive. So I don’t need to venture out. And if I do, I’ll go on the motorbike and try to avoid the holiday routes.

Fortunately I live on the coast and within 800 yards of my house I have two chip shops, about a dozen Indian restaurants and takeaways, four Italian restaurants, two Chinese and a Thai. The freezer is adequately stocked too so there is no danger of me dying of starvation in the wilds of Whitley Bay.

My advice to anyone wanting to drive through Whitley bay on a bank holiday is DON’T! You are in serious danger of either driving into the back end of someone’s car or they will drive into the back of you. The young girls wear four items of clothing and two of them are a pair of shoes. Mix into that scenario copious amounts of alcohol and I’ll leave you to imagine the picture. This is independent of the ambient temperature. The boys watch the girls who watch the boys go by … as the song goes. And if they happen to be driving at the same time, then it’s tears before bed time. It’s worth a walk up the street in the early evening before they get too drunk and silly if that interests you.

I used to like bank holidays when I had the dog. The bank holiday weather can be cruel and when people travel to the coast, they are determined to indulge in the usual coast pleasures. I used to take the dog out for a walk along the sea front and watch them “enjoying” themselves eating their fish n’ chips and ice creams. Meanwhile the rain was blowing in horizontally from the North Sea. I used to laugh my head off. I knew that I’d be back in the house shortly, drinking hot soup and watching the dog steaming slightly as he relaxed and dried off in front of a roaring fire. The smell of hot, wet dog on a cold day is a happy sort of smell and brings back fond memories.

Sometimes I’d call in to Bills fish bar and buy fish and chips for myself and the wife. It’s on Cullercoats bay and the best chip shop around. If you call in, you’ll possibly see Bill and you’ll realise he doesn’t throw the scraps out for the cats at the end of the evening’s trade. He is a big lad and isn’t exactly skin and bones.

Ah well. That’s the holiday taken care of. I’ll probably be glad to get back to work for the rest ….

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