Kendal and Weymouth, February 21st & 22nd 2013
It is a relief to quit the strange hotel. I had to resort to headphones to mask the odd noises in the early morning. Shufflings and bleeping. A hollow cough followed by a whining hoover. Kurt Vile, Leonard Cohen and The Leopards did the trick. Barges sit stretched along the coast out on the grey North Sea. We head west to the Lake District, light flakes of snow dancing about the windscreen. Dry stone walls edge the road as we cross the moors and heaths of the Pennines. The week of winter sun has burnt off all but a few scattered patches of ice. The terrain has that distinctively British hue – khaki; neither yellow nor green nor brown but somehow all three at the same time. In spring it will all be emerald. The road dips into more verdant pasture, prettily partitioned and studded with copses.
Kendal sits in a hollow around a river and spreads up onto the surrounding rises. It comes over as affluent but not too stuck-up. I find a place to eat while Dave voices the PA. A friend from Glasgow has come down for the evening and we catch up in a pub beside the Brewery Arts Centre. We duck into a newsagent for fags and notice we are dressed identically. We men of a certain age have few options. It’s either the fleece and training shoe or the urban dandy.
In the morning we rejoin the modern world on the motorway, headed for Dorset. We’re under an eiderdown of rippled cloud speeding through frozen air and all the time eating crisps.
Weymouth is charming and altogether nautical. We take the van to find food in the frigid wind and settle on a fish and chip restaurant. My pollock and chips is excellent and we decide to follow our main courses with deep-fried Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. I opt for a Twix done in the same way. It is a spectacular hit on such a cold night.
The calorie bomb slows us up so much that only two drinks are taken in the pub before we’re forced back to the hotel to lie down. I watch Richard Gere be violently unpleasant on Graham Norton. The man’s a tool and obviously as shallow as a saucerful of spilt tea. A spider makes its rackety way across my Artex-ed ceiling towards me so I swipe him to the floor with a bit of quilt and encase him in a glass for defenestration. He floats to the ground like stick-man doing a Bond stunt and I imagine him running off jauntily to crouch in some warm crevice. In the morning I wake in my lair with a dry mouth. I can still feel last night’s fuel squatting inside me like an enormous toad. I think better of going for a run in the freezing streets so my plimsoles lie unused in my case. I’ll burn off the lard with worry and hard thoughts about things obscure. I’ll think myself fitter.