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Northern soul

May 23, 2013

With the temperature dropping steadily, mile by mile as we sped away from the civilised south, the reality of heading “up north” was dawning. Much as one feels when you see the tax demand on the mat, a frisson of fear stabs at the heart.

By the time we arrived at the beautiful but wild northern outpost of Chester, it was barely above freezing (the locals pleased with this, describing it as a “good summer”) and I realised I had forgotten to check the anti freeze levels in the car. Inappropriately dressed, we waited for a lull in the hurricane before risking opening the doors , aware of the danger of them acting like a parachute and ripping them off, we eventually dashed to the cheery confines of the splendid abode of plastic surgeon Douglas “Mac The Knife” McGeorge and the willowy and gorgeous Sarah.

Cheery because all the peat fires were lit in deference to our arrival, and we were greeted with a glass of Bollinger, which unaccountably, had survived being shipped up north. One obvious benefit of the cold was that no ice was required as it could be served at room temperature.

OK, enough. The McGeorge mansion is fabulous, with views over to the Welsh hills, and we were given the entire top floor for out stay, from where I took today’s photo. A quick change and then into Chester for dinner with some of the locals at the quite wonderful Oddfellows. Amongst the guests were curtain magnate, Graham Tomlinson and his voluptuous child bride, Louise, the lovely blonde and beautiful Alex Smeaton, together with smouldering (was that smoke?) husband Andrew. Louise was the first to allow the high standards that these northern chaps had been trying to maintain to lapse, (in the face of visitors from the sultry south) regaling us with how she could not repress a smile when some of her staff, when they were assigned different tasks in their retail outlets, depending upon customers needs, were referred to as “Floaters”. Whilst she was saying this, I was frantically trying to work out what was amusing her, but no inspiration came.

McGeorge residence

Room with a view

Other charming local colloquialisms were also aired and I made a note of one; “Slipped her a crippler”. This was greeted universally with knowing looks and smiles but again I can only guess at its true meaning, however when I began to think it through, again I became quite slightly queasy. These northern folk have a wonderful turn of phrase. I often have no idea about what they are saying but I do so love watching the locals enjoy themselves.

I also learned a little about geography, again from the child bride of the curtain magnate, over which I should have drawn a veil (eek). It was when I was pointing out that geographically the north was, by implication, north of London, where I was born, she said she was not from the north, but from Wales. “What part?” I asked. Anglesey she replied. “Is that not in north Wales?” I asked. She agreed it was. I let the matter drop because she is perfectly formed, bubbly and very pretty, but I still do not know what colour her eyes were, I could not raise my gaze height enough above that wonderful cleavage.

Business done, even a slight possibility of securing a new customer for Currencies Direct (Andrew, I have been very gentle with you here so far, but any backsliding on that application form and things can change very quickly. Please don’t consider that to be blackmail, just gentle persuasion, otherwise that firework incident from last year may have to be aired in this column).

Chris France

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