Lancaster Reunion 2002

In January 2002 a few of us old Cartmelians made our way to the hallowed ground of Lancaster University. Those present were James, Harry, Rob, Loz and Kevin. Had the years mellowed us? Did we spend the weekend talking about our villas in Tuscany and our tax returns? Have we in fact, grown up at all? Well here, James and my good self take you through the weekend’s events…we’re sorry about what you are about to read.

James:
Well it’s over a week now, but it feels much longer. This must be due to the fact that the weekend was far beyond what could be described as entertaining. Both Harry and myself met up in Cartmel Bar sometime between 2-3pm synchronised by the use of mobile phones. How things have changed.

Harry:
Kev had offered me a lift to Lancaster, but I felt that freezing my nads off at Preston Station was all part of recreating that authentic Lancaster University experience. It also allowed me to get to the bar around lunchtime to join Jimbo in our traditional afternoon pint and the usual inability to complete the crossword in the Daily Mirror.

James:
The bar was actually fairly lively for lunchtime but there are now two major drawbacks to the bar experience. Ignoring the fact that the bar has too many silver tables, spot lights, warm non-alcoholic drinks which slow down the service and a wooden floor, but we discovered that there was no Theakston’s Cool Cask on tap (those who were bothered to read the last reunion will realise that Harry & I made Cool Cask a vital part of our staple diet), plus the jukebox (remember this is now located in the pool room) is now free of Zeppelin. Yes it is sans Jimmy Page. BALLCOCKS! For those of you who were never bothered by that then it is also Pogues & Shampoo free! After this shock and a decision to at least play some Purple & Sabbath we adjourned to the corner and drank Theakston’s Best. After the second pint it was felt that Best could well be a contradiction in terms, with Harry’s beer appearing to be warm, whilst both pints had sediment that Time Team might have been interested in.

Harry:
I’d like to say in defence of the second pint that the glass was scrupulously clean. So clean it had a head of soap bubbles instead of beer froth. It was strange considering the first pint was rather tasty. After the second pint I realised this return to Lancaster would be unusual because I’d be betraying everything I believed in when I ‘studied’ here. Yes for the rest of the weekend I would drink pints of lager. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

James:
Seeing as how we were pacing ourselves we walked down to somewhere near the Chaplaincy Centre where we searched for the keys. After being informed at the post room that we need 24hour security, we then had an amusing conversation with a security guard who was totally clueless to the idea that Lancaster had an Alumni Flat and then he tried to work out what the acronyms was “Lancaster University…something”.

Harry:
No doubt confused by Jimbo’s strange hybrid scouse/geordie accent and pronunciation of Alumni as Alum-knee the security guard had a crack at the acronym theory, “Academic, Lancaster, er….University. What’s the N stand for?” Eventually we put him out of his misery and told him it might be Latin. Friendly bloke though, just the sort of fella you’d need on side if found driving around campus in the early hours the worse for drink, or being caught stealing a Cornish pastie.

James:
After finding the keys we went back to the car and nipped round to the flat. Harry was great help in locating said flat behind the ‘garag’ and we found that the second of the two doors opened outwards onto the stairs, meaning you had to go down the steps before getting into the flat.

Harry:
The supplied map was a skewed line drawing of the health centre that must have been an entry in some Blue Peter competition to design an Edwardian cesspit. A curved arrow indicated either the front of the building swung upwards to reveal the flat, Thunderbirds style, or (like an ugly welsh lass) you’d have better luck around the back. Garag, we assumed, was indeed the old Cumbrian word for dwelling dating back to Danelaw times, but in the end it seems some prick can’t spell garage correctly. A fitting tribute to this fine seat of academia.

James:
The flat itself was rather impressive with a fair sized kitchen, large bedroom with double bed, and a fair sized front room complete with bed, dining table (sounds a bit too grand), sofa and various chairs. Harry managed to find ironing board, iron and Hoover – so we all know that he must be a much-reformed character from the one we all knew at Uni! 😉

Harry:
There’s a difference between finding and using mate. As to the much reformed, you all know I’m as pure as the driven snow.

James:
Food was called for and so came the long trek from Health Centre to Grizedale for the visit to Wibbly Wobbly Too. Good timing as the place was closing around 6pm and it was very very quiet. After a much-needed pit stop, we ventured back up campus and into Cartmel Bar (surprise I know) with me suffering a bout of hiccups all the way from Grizedale until I got into the bar. After a few drinks Kev rang to say he & Loz were at the flat so over they came to the bar.

Harry:
Well, Kev came over to the bar. Loz wasn’t with him. Take a wild guess what he was doing. Well it had almost been an hour since they spoke. But perhaps it’s for the best he has someone caring back home, the boy is a little puddled and needs a woman’s touch, guess what he discovered next?

James:
With great timing Loz realised he was without his wallet, much to the amusement of everyone except for Kev who (being the gentleman that he was) agreed to sub him for the rest of the weekend.

Harry:
Remember those Cartmel Bar days when someone would nip down to the cashpoint with several cards and bring everyone some of their money back. Bloody hell we were lazy bastards, but then if someone wants to lend a tenner, you may as well make Rob (ahem…sorry), make them, work for it.

James:
After more drinks were drunk, we felt it was a good time for Kev & Loz to unload the car and get their gear into the flat. This was done followed by a trip to Pizzetta Republic (more of this later) where Kev & Loz had something to eat. Once more we returned to Cartmel bar where (Bar Manager) Cal greeted us like long lost friends and introduced us to some women who we warmly greeted, despite the fact that no-one had a fucking clue who she was.

Harry:
“Look who it is,” she exclaimed. And we all said hi. Goodness knows who this woman was or why Cal introduced her. In fact I completely missed by chance to take up the issue of the lack of Led Zeppelin, The Pogues, Shampoo and Kenny Rogers on the Cartmel Bar jukebox. And more importantly, where in haemorrhaging fuck was the decent beer?

James:
By this stage we were well oiled and Kev & myself managed to gatecrash a conversation with an ex-JCR rep (in a wheelchair) and some 1st Year students (did I mention they were female?). After a failed attempt to get invited to a party, we rambled back to the flat where some Bells was sampled.

Harry:
“Can we come to your party?”
“No!”
Reminds me of all my dating ‘successes’ at Lancaster.
Anyway we did rather well, James and myself managing a dozen pints each and a few large gold watches. Not bad for those of us on the wrong side of twenty-five.

James:
Next morning was shite…everyone felt shite….how much did we drink? Nobody was quite with it, but a fry-up expertly done by Harry (what’s with this cooking, ironing & hoovering fetish?), was followed by a trip to Morecambe to see the mighty Shrimpers take on Kings Lynn.

Harry:
Now I’m not one to claim credit for something I didn’t do. James is factually correct here but doesn’t quite cover the spirit in which the breakfast arrived. Firstly James went out and bought it while I continue to make chainsaw snoring noises on the sofa. Kev and Loz put in the patient service on the ancient electric cooker. This device seemed to work by using decaying isotopes of uranium to heat the grill and cooking time was on a par with the fuel’s half-life. We would have been better using one of the radiators. But I have to admit I fried the eggs and as that was the only frying done, I suppose I did do the ‘fry up.’

James:
Rob called to say he hadn’t set off, but he would be in Lancaster about 7.30pm (how we laughed!). The match itself was preceded by a walk to the front (Eric Morecambe statue etc), but the game was ultimately forgettable, save a few chants of “No surrender to the IRA” and “We hate Norwich” (no that wasn’t me!). It was bloody freezing and without much entertainment on the pitch it was decided that it was a crap idea and should only be repeated in the summer (aka the rainy season). The return journey saw us sample a couple of pints in the Blue Anchor before a taxi ride to campus.

Harry:
It’s always gratifying to know the fenian hordes are being held back, and the racial purity of the Norfolk Aryan man is being protected, by such fine specimens of the human race. Apparently mullets, hair lips and illiteracy are the finest features of our racially pure visitors. “English till I die,” apparently. There’s something non-threatening by someone chanting hatred with the kind or aaaaaaccent that wouldn’t seem out of place in a crappy ITV Thomas Hardy adaptation.

James:
After visiting Wibbly Wobbly (now complete with free chocolate bar, much to the surprise of the bloke who was serving – Loz informed us the one in town had shut and the bloke wasn’t called Serge but actually Sedge) we decided a pint at Furness was needed before we wandered up to Cartmel bar to meet Rob. Rob turned up sometime around 8pm. Due to the previous night’s excesses the drinking was of a much sober nature, but we still had time to ring Gilesey, Rachel & Matt from the bar. Chucking out time is complete with tannoy announcement and Kev thought a game of pool was in order, the only problem being that there were no balls – Rob’s investigation found the answer in that the local youngsters nick the balls…for what use we are unsure of.

Back to the flat where Rob had brought some beers, which fuelled Kev into ringing Pizzetta Republic (I’ll leave Harry to describe the conversation). Rob, Harry & myself turned in about 6am after putting the world to rights (including a reasoned argument that the only people who should be given the vote were the three of us).

Harry:
I have to say my highlight of the weekend was talking nonsense with Rob. Rob mate, I’ve really missed our late night conversations and it was great to get back to work with you on the agenda that will save this country. Okay you may be a dirty traitorous footballing vagabond, but you no a thing or two about keeping the working class in their place. Saturday night’s conversation with you and Jim is my best memory of the weekend, seriously.

But several hours before that there was the matter of Kev’s stirling efforts to get us some scran. It went something like this, apologies for any mistakes, I’d had a few small ales so the recollection is hazy.

So Kev picks up the phone and dials university reception….

Kev: “Can you put me through to the Pizza Republic on Campus, thanks.”

Kev: “Hi, do you deliver?”

[pause]

Kev: “Do you deliver?”

[pause]

Kev: “Do you deliver?”

[Cue laughter from us]

Kev: “Let me put it another way, I want a pizza will you bring it to me?”

[Cue laughter from us]

Kev: “I’ll try again, there are no pizza’s here, but there are where you are, so you’ll have to bring us one.”

[Cue laughter from us]

Kev: “The Cunt hung up!”

Rob: “Try the one in town”

Kev: “Reception, the Cunt at Pizza Republic just hung up on me.”

[Cue laughter from us]

Kev: “Now she’s hung up on me.”

[Cue laughter from us]

Kev: “Enquiries, can I have the Pizza Republic in Lancaster Centre?”

Kev: “Hi Pizza Republic? Fuck It’s an answer phone.”

[Cue laughter from us]

Kev: “Okay I hope you check this soon, first the guy at your Campus store is a Cunt. Secondly we’d like two large pizzas…erm”

Rob: “One Meat Feast.”

Kev: “One Meat Feast.”

Harry: “One Hawaiian.”

Kev: “One Hawaiian and a large garlic bread. Fuck where are we? We’re in this flat, it’s at the Uni, it’s…somewhere at the University…erm”

Harry: “Behind a green Range Rover”

Kev: “We’re behind a green Range Rover. So that’s two pizzas, one meat feast one Hawaiian, and a large garlic bread. We’re behind the green Range Rover. Please hurry as we’re Fucking starving.”

James:
Not wanting to delve into the subconscious but I had a strange dream involving driving at 4am to get some fags and chocolate (having had to get the porter to unlock the room the fags were in), Rob being unable to tell the brake from the clutch and thinking the car was broke, Harry driving a car despite not being able to see, and a campus that was student free but full of porters!?! Most strange and must have been due that last can I’d had.

Harry:
Now I could say more here. But there are a few issues. First I remember more details of this dream than perhaps Jim does as he told me all about it when he awoke, in such clarity, it’s as if it really happened. Some people might actually we believed we did this stuff and I’d hate for that to happen. But come on, what kind of prick would really spend ten minutes flooring the break saying, “I’m gunning the engine, but nothing’s happening.” As if! Jimbo must have had a bad pint.

James:
Sunday saw us needing to leave the flat by 10am, although Rob was probably correct in his assumption that the cleaner wasn’t going to be arsed to come all the way out to the Health Centre to clean at 10am on a Sunday morning. Anyway off to Spar (due to Diggles being shut – will we ever discover the 10th ingredient or was it 9?) and then on our separate ways. I’ll not saying any more, except those who weren’t there should be there next year (10th anniversary of starting Uni. – anyone know the whereabouts of Stu?).

Harry:
I have to say I had a great weekend. Thanks to all of you who turned up. I know all of you are more or less married (some legally), so good work on getting out from under those thumbs and making your way to God’s own piece of earth – Lancaster. Special plaudits must go to Rob, who drove all the way from the south for one night; I’m delighted you made it mate. It seemed amazingly natural to be sat in Cartmel Bar with you guys talking toot and setting the world to rights. It seems after all this time The Song Remains Same (though not if Cal has the keys to the jukebox). Until next time, Cartmel Bar M’Lord, Cartmel Bar!