Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Small Town England in Twos.

I was in the waiting area of the local hospital today, waiting (appropriately) for Alan the podiatrist to turn up. (Making your living as a landscape photographer might enrich the soul, but it’s the feet which pay the price. Eventually they complain and have to be pacified.) Alan usually runs a bit late, so I settled down with a paper cup containing a brown liquid which cost a whole 50p from the vending machine and purported to have its origins in the fruit of the cacao plant. Bit rash, really, but at least the TV was on in the corner, so I turned to that for further amusement.

It was showing one of those amusingly crass morning magazine programmes, and I joined it just as it was going into the crime slot. This morning’s offering featured a very nice young policeman explaining, very nicely and at considerable length, how to keep your bike from being stolen if you have to park it in a public place. The presenter, whose presentational skills were slightly inferior to those of the very nice young policeman, looked very interested. (‘Nice’ is a wholly appropriate adjective in a post like this, and ‘very’ eminently fitted to be explored in all its forms.) To be more accurate, the presenter looked as though she was trying her best to appear to be very interested, but as I said…

Two minutes later I turned to the local paper lying on the coffee table in front of me. The front page was dominated by a big headline:


It seems the local council need some money to keep the little red, white and blue flags flying patriotically over the High Street. That’s this week’s big news in Ashbourne, and they are the only two reportable happenings from JJ’s trip to the local hospital. Sorry.

So then it was off to the town proper, where I became embroiled in conversation with the manageress of one of the charity shops. I learned that:

a. She comes from a town about 100 miles from here which featured heavily in my early adult life.

b. As well as running the Ashbourne shop, she also runs the Uttoxeter one.

And from her I was made acquainted with two hitherto unknown facts:

a. The Palace Cinema, Wellingborough, where I spent many a happy hour in the early years of my adult life, which maintained its independent status far longer than most, and which featured significantly in one of my published stories, is now a snooker hall. Time took its toll, as it does.

b. There is a previously unremarked difference between the people of Ashbourne and the people of Uttoxeter. (Readers of longstanding might remember earlier posts on that very subject.) Ashbourne people pay the price on the ticket; Uttoxeter people haggle. Figures.

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