At the beginning of December thoughts of Christmas and going home for the holidays were on everyone’s mind. I was so looking forward to seeing my family and friends – as well as a Yager’s pork special – for a long awaited catch up, even though we did keep in touch in those days by sitting down to write letters on coloured Basildon Bond.
I’d opened my return correspondence to find the itinerary for the Christmas Nights out in Consett. There were bands on at The Trades, Blackhill Club, The Demi, along with various house parties on New Years Eve and of course the New Years Day extravaganza in Castleside Club to finish off the celebrations.
So, after packing my bag and heading for Kings Cross, in my excitement I caught the heel of my new cowboy boots in the ridges on the underground escalator and tumbled down the last few steps onto the platform.
I only realised after my fall that I’d lost my train ticket and student rail card so spent most of the journey talking to the inspector, who in spite of having kind eyes took his job very seriously and made me fill in a form to report my loss.
After this ordeal I dragged my rucksack with it’s broken zip to the corridor, pulling down the train window so I could get a clearer view. Unfortunately I hadn’t accounted for the spring-back effect and the window shot up to trap my head as we slowed down. Much to the merriment of my travelling companions I let out an unfortunate expletive and was reprimanded by the ticket collector.
There’s nothing more wonderful – after a four hour train journey confined in a smoking carriage, with nothing to eat but an individual apple and blackberry fruit pie for sustenance – than the majestic sight of Durham Cathedral as the train pulls into the station.
Things could only get better I reflected, as I hugged my family and my sore chin after an hour’s journey from Durham to Consett on a red Northern bus.
Along with the usual Christmas preparations:
collecting the turkey from Forster’s,the vegetables from Donaghy’s and filling up the cupboards with Birds Trifle, Carnation milk and tins of Pek for emergencies when the shops were shut, we all appreciated the celebratory joy and buzz in the town.
With Christmas under our belt and no more mishaps, it was time – after a New Year’s Eve consuming mince pies, a wee dram and depositing pieces of coal into our neighbours houses – to pack our Tupperware sandwich boxes and head for a day out in Castleside. The club filled up quickly and even though everyone had their own seats it was compulsory to get there early. Chairs tightly packed around uniform rectangular tables filled with drinks, Tudor crisps and packets of pork scratchings, housed party creatures enthusiastically waiting for Brass Alley’s first set. As usual they were not disappointed and the place was rocking even before the bingo tickets were sold.
Needless to say at the end of the night, before the club chairman could part with the money in his pocket, everyone was up dancing between the tables to ‘The Hunter’ . As usual my friends and I wanted to be at the front. Unfortunately I didn’t see the speaker and for the second time my cowboy boots failed to save me. Sprawled under a sea of dancing legs, I realised it was time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and walk to the bar to get a double round in.