Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mainstream

Leicester...

After five days of seemingly being stapled to the toilet, I woke up this morning feeling vaguely human again. I could, quite easily, give you all a running commentary about the state of my ablutions; but I figure what you really want is tales of good food, humid days and road rage. So here goes...

The wife took her car to be serviced and we decided that we'd have a day without the hounds. Go up to one of our favourite shopping destinations and get some, on the cheap, retail therapy done.

I've been going to Leicester for over 25 years; the first time was with our friends Graham and Clare, before they emigrated to Australia - in 1987. The place (and I hadn't discovered the Indian quarter then) was everything that Shoesville and its surrounding dens of iniquity have to offer.

Sadly, today,. I gave the wife a headache. I moaned about the number of Starbucks, then the number of Subways, then the number of other fast food, coffee and new takeaways that seem to have sprung up in the 5 months since I last went there. I mentioned to a friend earlier that Sheffield has seemed like a vast building site for the last 20 years; well Leicester appears to be going through its own redevelopment and I'm worried that the soul might have been allowed to get out and run for Bradgate Park to live its last days galloping around then fields and woods.

We were in the city centre for only about an hour. The market, normally a haven for the weird, wonderful and fresh seemed almost homogenised - the wife commented that there was a film crew wandering around - perhaps they tarted the place up for this? But... An hour? Only an hour? Yep, Leicester appears to be turning into a clone of every other medium sized city. Each town/city centre has the same shops, the same pedestrian areas and the same vibe. If I was a shopaholic fashion freak with an addiction to caffeine, burgers, beer and mobile phones, it would be heaven. However, I'm not (beer excepted).

I was itching to get to the Belgrave Road area. I feel more at home there, I even commented that perhaps, in a past life, I might have been Indian. I never get tired of the place, despite it having a propensity for jewellers and pizza parlours that offer Indian toppings! There is a vibrancy about the place that you can almost touch and the people will stand and chat with you, pass the time of day or give you directions without a scowl or a frown. The English could learn a thing or two about Leicester. We bought a load of nibbles - samosas, pakoras, potato bhajis, some kind of chips with spicy gram flour coating, some totally authentic naan breads and I did something I've never done before. I bought a jar of Indian pickle - a hot chilli, carrot and mango one. I have this thing about pickles. I like the odd pickled onion or jar of red cabbage, but chutneys and pickles are something I just can't get on with. Dunno why. But I figured I'd give it a go. The good thing is that if I don't like it, my mate Roger will! So, it won't be £2.50 down the drain.

Despite the fact I've just been drenched in a monster rain shower, the earlier part of the day was overcast but warm - humid even. We've always been blessed with excellent September weather for our hols and this year it looks like the exception to the rule. I'd argue with my last breath against anyone who says we've had a good summer. If the last four years are anything to go by, good summers are things to be consigned to the past or Spain...

I'm coming to the conclusion that I was one of the last people to pass a driving test on merit and ability. The amount of complete and utter fuckwits I see on the road nowadays makes me wonder if Driving Test Examiners are all getting bungs.
I was in the sexy tractor today, making dead sure I stuck to the speed limit, as the last time I went to Leicester was for a speeding awareness course. It does, to be fair, whiz along like shit off a stick and so, on the way home, I hit the lovely dual carriageway section of the A6 and put my foot down. In front of me, in a courtesy Ford, was a man doing about 60mph. I sat behind him and he didn't move. I waited. I waited a bit longer and as there was nothing in the inside lane, I illegally undertook him. Jesus Harry Christ, from the guy's reaction you would have thought I'd just raped his children while forcing him to watch. He got right up my arse, gesticulating madly at me, so I slowed down to give him a taste of his own medicine. Bad move. I should just have gone on without paying this wanker any heed. He made a crazy manoeuvre that only someone in a courtesy car would do and undertook me using part of the hard shoulder. The dual carriageway ended and he dropped his speed like a bullet to 25mph and was flicking the Vs at me, making wanker signals in the rear view mirror, you name it he continue to abuse me. The wife didn't want me to pursue him and after about a minute, I decided that life is too fucking short to be almost killing myself over an arsehole who believes the road belongs to him.
The thing is, this guy wasn't your average boy racer; he looked at least as old as me, possibly older. Eventually, he overtook a couple more cars, on a dangerous stretch of the road, and was gone. I toyed with the idea of memorising his number plate and contacting the hire company he got the car from. but, honestly, what good would that have done?

Some things I learned today: Punjabi samosas piss all over ordinary ones. Rubicon Guava fizzy drink in cans (special price 49p) is absolutely unbelievably lovely, and it doesn't matter where you look or where you are, there's mushrooms everywhere at the moment, literally!

Tomorrow, the east coast (sort of, as where we're going is the only west facing coast on the east side of England) and a trip to the delightful Fox and Hounds in Heacham. The in-house Fox Brewery is small, compact and bijou and produces interesting beers; that is where I shall be come lunchtime tomorrow, before heading down to Heacham's award winning Fish and Chip shop, for a bag of chips (only). We'll only be there for about 3 hours, with 4 hours in total on the roads, depending on traffic, but it's a fun day out and the dogs love it.

The barking neighbour (literally, not metaphorically) has built a bomb fire in his garden. Nothing unusual about that you might say, I mean, we're going to have one in November, but he's piled a lot of old wood and garden shite onto the blue polythene and wood chippings that cover the bottom of his garden. Surely the man has enough brain matter to realise that this is about as stupid as using a condom made from short crust pastry!

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