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A Family Day Out - Part 2

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 18/07/2004

TO be fair to GNER, the train left Kings Cross and arrived in Doncaster on time.

Home > Features > 2004 Features > A Family Day Out

The children played on the gameboys and behaved impeccably, must to the disgust of a pair of Cholmondleigh-Warners in front us who clearly thought that children, including their grandson, had no right to any form of existence.

Their mission was clearly to spread their narrow-minded cultural standards to the north. Sam and I in the meantime discussed death metal lyrics and anarchy in general. Behind us a woman was putting her make-up on. Sam suggested that she obviously needed a high level of maintenance. I suggested that this meant she was probably French.

‘Doncaster is Beautiful’. Revis declared milliseconds before arrival in Doncaster that she needed to go to the toilet, so she was whisked to the ladies’ on arrival - no soap. Another failing on my part. While waiting and in between taking the mickey out of the train spotters on the station, Deej saw a poster with the statement ‘Doncaster is beautiful’. Sam’s comment when she came out of the toilet with Revis ‘it’s bloody cold here’ provided dichotomous evidence. We sat on a bench while waiting for our ‘TransPennine Express’, looking at the idle and wind-swept railway works and discussed the statement, which was to do with re-cycling waste. We agreed that ‘Don’t make Doncaster more dismal than it already is’ would have been more suitable.

We left the beauty of Doncaster, savouring the wilderness of its suburbs and the surrounding flatlands. The Conductor told us what ‘facilities’ there were on the train, which included toilets. He didn’t mention things like windows, brakes etc.. The seats weren’t vandalised. Once through the grimescape of Scunthorpe, we were well on our way to the Costa del North East Lincolnshire. As ever, we arrived at Grimsby Town station to the homely waft of deep fried fat, and fish and chips. It was cold, sunny and breezy. As we walked down the road, I bemoaned the fact that the Yarborough Vaults was now some trendy bar (by Grimsby standards) called Huxters. At least the Yarborough Vaults had atmosphere. I recalled the time when when a gentleman came in, objected to the music playing on the juke box, ripped it off the wall, through it through the window, and walked out. They even had ‘wild west’ shutters in the Yarborough Vaults for when the fighting broke out. Now that’s atmosphere in a pub. Sam recalled the time that she went with me and my friend Gary to a pub with ripped up seats. This could have been anywhere in Grimsby or Cleethorpes, but I identified it as the Queen’s Arms in Sea View Street.

We went to have some lunch, and Sam spotted a gentleman in shorts. Recognising that it was not as frozen as it is for 364 days of the year, she commented ‘I suppose people are taking advantage of the summer while it’s here’. She then had a realisation and exclaimed ‘We’ve been here half an hour and no-one’s been violently rude to me yet’. I had to remind her that we weren’t in London and the South East. People here have manners.

After lunch, we took a bus to Cleethorpes. Sam picked up an Argos catalogue, stating that she would probably need something to occupy her for a couple of hours after 3 o’clock. After passing through the seedy (Sam’s word) sights of Grimsby and the Cleethorpes Road, which blends seamlessly into the Grimsby Road, we got off at the top of Isaac’s Hill. We walked down towards the pier, and along the amusement arcades (I believe they prefer to be known more poshly as Family Entertainment Centres), the combined smells of candy floss, burgers and chips, and the sounds of slot machines, arcade games, pop muzak and Meggie bingo callers. The Yorkies were sitting grimly checking their numbers. They were here to have fun. As before I saw the sign telling me ‘Eat In. Take Away. Same Price!’, except that there were now three signs telling us this. There’s some clever marketing going on here, but passers-by had missed it. The café was deserted. Perhaps it was the next sign ‘Kid’s Treat. Fish and Chips, Chips and Curry Sauce etc. for £1’, which was attracting the people. We’d eaten not long ago, but to enter into the spirit of things, I bought the children an ice-cream, and we sat down on a bench opposite the beach. I explained that we were enjoying ourselves, but no-one seemed too convinced. The wind had dropped, but it was grey and sultry. The tide was out. In front of us there was a child wailing at the top of the static no-so-Big Wheel, thinking it had been abandoned. Another child was having a donkey ride. The child, the owner and the donkey all looked downcast and totally pissed off. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen a donkey looking so fed up and depressed. There was no hope whatsoever. For anything. But we were having fun. I commented that I couldn’t understand why people wanted to go to Majorca and that when there’s Cleethorpes. Sam enigmatically stated ‘the weather’. I’d have liked to have stayed to watch the tide come in but there wasn’t time, as we had to move on and go directly to Mecca.

As we walked down the seafront, I reminisced about the time in the late 70s that my mate Gary and I decided to relieve the gloom and boredom by writing a spoof letter to the Grimsby Evening Telegraph. In it we pretended to be old age pensioners complaining about ‘the youth of today’. We got the star prize of £5, and what a good night out we had.

A few minutes later, we were at Mecca, having passed the curious mixture of shops on the Grimsby Road, including two tanning studios - ‘ new tubed sun beds’ - off licences, Maltby’s butchers, a cycle shop, a couple of fish and chip shops and a shop called ‘Gracious Living’. Sam’s comment on ‘Gracious Living’: ‘I’m surprised they haven’t shut down by now’.

The article continues in Part 3

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