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Mecca Revisited Part 2

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 11/07/2004

WE called in at Pettits the Master Butcher, where I bought one of their magnificent Lincolnshire Pork Pies as an edible souvenir. Post-Valentine romance was alive and well: ‘La saucisse de la passion (honestly), 75p each, ideal for Toad in the Hole’. That’s class.

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Note the impressively correct use of gender here (that’s ‘la’ as in ‘la saucisse’). What I want to know though is how did some French person come to decide that sausages are feminine, and why? It was probably to make life more difficult for foreigners to learn the language. My mate Gary’s dad, who was a window cleaner, and therefore knew about everything, used to say that they spoke an incomprehensible foreign language in Nunsthorpe (that’s a district of Grimsby, for the benefit of those who are unfortunate enough not to have been there). Perhaps it was French.

Now Grimsby is a mystical place, as I may have told you before. More importantly from the children’s point of view it’s got a Pizza Hut. We went there for lunch. While there I struck up a conversation* with an extremely Viking-looking gentleman (*Note to readers from the South of England: conversation is a social activity which one has with other people including, incredibly, strangers. It does not involve barging people out of the way to get to a train or bar). This led Merlin to tell me about his homework concerning the Vikings. In turn I told him about the origins of Grimsby, its name and historical links with the Vikings. Culture in Pizza Hut.

Afterwards, I took Merlin and Revis on a brief tour of Grimsby’s tourist attractions. This included a detour via Grime Street. People don’t believe me when I say there’s a Grime Street, Grimsby. Well there is, and I now have a photograph to prove it.

On the way back to the town centre, Merlin dropped his glove, but a vigilant and concerned old lady spotted it and brought it to my attention (Note 2 to people from the South of England. This unusual act is called kindness. It does not involve ignoring or spitting on people).

From the town centre we caught a bus to Cleethorpes. The tension started to mount as Blundell Park came into view (well it didn’t, but it should have done). On arrival, a hard-faced youth invited me and the children to get off the bus first (readers from the South of England should analyse this statement carefully and take note). We went into a newsagent so that I could buy a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica a.k.a. the Grimsby Telegraph and some sweets for the children. While there, the man in the shop invited me to take a voucher. I wasn’t overwhelmed with the offer on the voucher inviting me to ‘Buy a pair of Grimsby Town FC socks for £5’, I must admit. I turned the voucher over and it told me I was entitled to take two children to today’s game for nothing. Wow. Suffering is complimentary.

Using my voucher and feeling very smug, I got the tickets. As we had plenty of time, I decided that we should go for a walk around Cleethorpes. As we turned the corner into Fuller Street on the way towards the railway bridge and the seafront, we saw two Bournemouth supporters heading towards us. In front of us were two Grimsby supporters. Confrontation time with today’s enemy! One of the Grimsby supporters said to one of the Bournemouth people in tones of great concern ‘Do you know where you’re going? I’ll show you where the entrance is if you like’. The Bournemouth fan replied politely: ‘ That’s OK. We’ve found it, thank you, and we’re just going for some fish and chips’. This is not the conversation you might imagine if you read about football in the papers. Supporters showing respect towards each other...hmm. It was the same in 1998 when we played Bournemouth in the Autoglass Windscreen Final at Wembley in front of 75,000 (!) people, with not a hint of trouble. I’ve seen Grimsby v Bournemouth several times and I like Bournemouth supporters. They’re up there with the Tranmeres and the Rotherhams for friendliness. Is it really in the South?

We continued on our healthy walk to the seafront. The tide was out, and there were people waiting for it to come in so that they could look at it, as they do round these parts. Now here’s first. Revis complained that she was too hot. This just doesn’t happen in Cleethorpes. There were no signs of anyone enjoying themselves. Some level of normality was present, then. Content with this state of affairs, we headed back past the ‘lounge’ of the no 2 Refreshment Room (that’s the bench on the station platform, the No 2 Refresh being a Wards pub and very important part of my later youth) to Mecca.

The article continues in Part 3

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