The plan was to spend a week (well, five days) in the library of the Science Fiction Foundation Collection, and, because I'd noted that I've never been to Betty's* and there was an exhibition of Ettys, a couple of days in York could follow, since Liverpool and York are so convenient for each other.** Because it would would be good to get away from the term from hell, the hellest one since I last spent time with my brother in the winterval period.*** Ettys and Betty's, what could go wrong?
At about this time I recalled the Alice
exhibition at Tate Liverpool, and thought wouldn't it be a shame I'd miss it. Eventually I realised that I wouldn't have to miss it, but I would have a short window to get from Lime Street to the Feathers to Albert Dock and look round. This I did, and once I've read the catalogue I should be saying more on an interesting if coy collection. But, hey, a Thom Demijohn book in the Tate!
So, a week reading up for the next book. Only, the reader's report has reemerged for the seventies book, and stuff needs sorting, and there's that deadline for an article on Jan 15th, plus the Survivors
thing... Put it this way, Plan A didn't get much attention.
Wandering back from Whitechapel Caffe Nerd, I passed Doctor Duncan's
, a Cains pub which looked very interesting, and which I planned to revisit, but at this point there was a Chicken Bazooka with my name on it. Have a nice relaxing week - catch a movie at FACT
, have a drink or two in the Phil
, but mostly watch those DVDs and read those books I'd brought with me.
Monday night was film night - the cheery Another Earth
, watched from a sofa, and which has the virtue of being shorter than Melancholia
. I'd arranged to meet someone Tuesday night, but they blew me out, and so it was on my own that I went to the Ship and Mitre
, a pub with at least ten real ale pumps. Ooops. Although it has a reputation for serving locals before strangers. H'mm. I walked back towards the hotel, past Doctor Duncan's - as I'd allowed for calories for two pints - and for once bore right up Renshaw Street rather than up Mount Pleasant. I turned left at Oldham Street, which I assumed would go through to Mount Pleasant, and then right as I felt this should go through, and passed the Roscoe Head
. This was odd, since I'd just been at the Roscoe Arms and wasn't clear how they'd join up,**** and interesting as it declared that it was one of the Magnificent Seven, the seven pubs which have appeared in each of the editions of The Good Beer Guide
. I hit Leece Street and turned left, then felt sure that I needed to cross the road for Rodney Street. This brings you out at a very big church, the one which looks like Tate Modern rather than being Paddy's wigwam, and not where I needed to be. A left turn took me onto Hope Street, to said Wigwam, and the hotel and bed, although the hotel oyster card failed twice, necessitating the three flight of stairs to be navigated five times.
The Roscoe Head clearly needed a visit, but was clearly closer than fifteen minutes' walk, indeed seemed likely closer to two. Assuming I could get unlost in the same way. So I went there on the way to the Ship, and took advantage of the third pint servings to try three beers. Then a circuitous route to the Ship and more beers. At least I was drinking halves. Getting lost is the theme of the week.
The next day saw more research into the magnificent seven, which didn't yield the other six, but revealed a microbre - The Baltic Fleet
, opposite Albert Dock. But first a meeting with an editor, in the Cambridge, and an attempt to drink a pint of Mansfield for the first time since... well, maybe even the 1980s - it was off, so I went for a pint of (I think Banks) an had a conversation which might have consequences, but certainly rewrites. I walked via the hotel (and the bookshop) to Caffe Nerd in Liverpool One, then found my way to the Baltic. I tried a few halves, before taking a long, circuitous and not at all lost route to Doctor Duncan's, where I tried a couple of Cain's beer. Feeling sufficiently mellow, I needed a fix of Chicken Bazooka.
The next day I was due to go to York, but I had a couple of hours to kill, so wandered into the city centre and had a coffee, and did some editing, and then emerged to sleet and snow and rain. Losing my bearings, I took forever to find Renshaw Street, and got lost again, cutting through to Mount Pleasant. Eventually - half an hour into a ten minute walk - I found the hotel and my rucksack, and set off back down the hill to Lime Street. It was a good job I'd booked a seat, as the train was full, but I did some editing. The snow was coming down until we hit the Pennines, and I was rather bemused to note that we appeared to be arriving in Bjork.
I took a taxi to the hotel as I was On A Mission, and the driver warned me about how alcoholic the owner was. It turns out he was thinking of a different hotel, and that I had a better idea of where it was than he did. I checked in and then yomped into town to a certain shop, then to the far end of town to the City Gallery where I saw Filth! in the shape of Etty nudes. This provoked some daft criticism from the critics of the period and some dubious curatorial commentary - "the artist was praised for the depiction of voluptuous female nudes, which many in the period believed encouraged immorality. In contrast the male nude was considered to be highly moral, as it was often associated with heroic acts."
One of the heroic male nudes:
Amusingly, the catalogue also prints it turned through ninety degrees anticlockwise.
Filth, I say.
Then from Ettys to Betty's, and a queue for an overpriced but nice cream tea. R. texted and phoned me whilst I was in there, but you aren't allowed mobiles, so I secretly texted him back and agreed to meet in the York Tavern, not the pub I thought it was, it turns out. Almost every where else was heaving, but the Swan on Goodramgate had standing room, and yielded a couple of pints. On my way back to the hotel, I inadvertently found myself in the Tap and Spile for one more. When I came out, I crossed the road, and headed in the wrong direction.
I have lost my mojo.
I got up on the Saturday with a sense of something having gone wrong, and slid into town on lethal black-iced pavements. I got the Apple Fascists at Stormfront to fix my iTouch, and after a coffee and editing, and a long walk up Micklegate, went back to finish off Etty and buy the catalogue. I also had a pasty and gravy, before heading for editing in a coffee shop. R. texted me, and arranged to pick me up. We had an Indian meal, and he drove me back to the hotel. No booze, to some relief.
And then back to the station, where my train didn't exist - it had been retimed, and then delayed, much to my annoyance. On the other hand, I got to St P in time for the Faversham train, having managed to miss the change at Ashford one which would have required a taxi home.
Back home for a nap by 3pm - and a cat who clearly missed me. A productive and emotional trip - I just have to find the other six pubs now.
* I feel this is a title that someone should use. For what, I don't know.
** I travelled between the two during the SFF Masterclass. Clearly I had forgotten the travelling time.
*** What can I say? My irony comes in cycles? I never learn from mistakes.
**** They don't.