Lancaster Reunion 2001

An account of the epic journey of one James and one Harry.

Their quest, to return to Lancaster University in autumn 2001 and see what fun could be had by a pair of ex-students in their former stomping ground.

An account of the epic journey of one James and one Harry. Their quest, to return to Lancaster University in autumn 2001 and see what fun could be had by a pair of ex-students in their former stomping ground.

James:
Although the reunion involved just Harry and me, it was so say the least a superb weekend.

Harry:
It certainly was mate, apart from my head swelling and the Waterwitch serving poison it was top notch (but more of the ‘witch later).

James:
After arriving in Lancaster at dead on 4 pm (I had told Harry between 3-4 pm), I found Harry already installed in his Guest room in Furness College, this was due to it being the only site on campus where the guest rooms were next to each other. The rooms were similar to the traditional campus rooms, but without a sink. There was no communal shower, just a bath and one sink/toilet room.

Harry:
Yeah I was getting up to Lancaster by train and assumed it would be a nightmare. >From door to door it took an hour and a half, it was never like that when we were at Uni.

James:
It was decided that as it was mid-afternoon a trip to Cartmel Bar m’lud was in order. Now I know it has changed beyond recognition, carpet replaced with wooden flooring, metal tables and chairs, jukebox in the pool room, coffee/tea/girlie Southern drinks in glasses with straws! Nevertheless, there was something homely about it. The seats have only been recovered and there are plenty of minor tears and ciggie burns to make it feel like home. After deciding that Theakston’s Cool Cask should be our poison we retired to our regular corner and reminisced. Now here is the good bit, the beer (or for Norfolk based readers bear!) was blooming marvellous.

Harry:
Yeah I have to admit despite the crappy shiny new tables, that Cartmel Bar retains that worn charm it always had and in fact the beer has got better. It did seem strange that the big old jukebox was gone (a new modern unit is on the wall of the pool room) but it felt like home none-the-less. After a few beers and a few chorus’ of Sally Maclennane it was just like old times, ‘cept we had some money.

James:
I remember all the poor quality pints of Theakstons Best we used to neck, but this Cool Cask was well kept and flavoursome and at only £1.40 a pint – yes I know it is a price hike on the original £1.18 (I think or was it £1.25) but who cares for a decent pint on campus. After a couple of pints (3/4) we wandered off in search of food, and after passing up the opportunity to sit in the Uni’s new wine bar we ventured into Pizzetta Republic for a pizza. Then off into town to find a venue for the match on Saturday morning.

Harry:
Which proved harder than we thought.

James:
It was decided that no visit to Lancaster would be complete without a trip to the Waterwitch. Big mistake. The old place was heaving inside and outside was full of ejit students talking as loud as possible, with no Boddies on tap a couple of pints of John Smiths were ordered. Now I don’t know if John Smith’s is the devils beer, but it was awful I had about 2 sips (and I mean sips) whilst Harry managed to stomach about 1/5th! Deciding that we would be safer with Theakstons in Cartmel bar we returned to the University (via a Taxi ! oh how times have changed.) I felt crap (I put it down to the pizza – Harry suggested it was the John Smiths) and was ill in the toilets of Furness College (such graphic detail I know). Feeling much better, we pressed on to Cartmel bar, but after ordering a G&T and a pint for Harry I felt even worse and went to bed very early.

Harry:
Yeah I think it was the beer at the ‘witch that made us feel ill. It really was foul, it may have had cleaner in the pipes or something. More likely the unscrupulous new barkeep was topping up the kegs with the slops.

James:
Footie Match 1: Man Utd v Man City. Saturday saw us bomb into town for the match and after wandering through the Blue Anchor, Fibber McGees, ‘the place where Jim Bowen plays his Trumpet’, we eventually ended up at The Nags, where we had a choice of an out of focus big screen or a dozen tellies. Harry’s Chinese friend joined us and with Boddies at £1 a pint (until the first goal I surmised but was happily proved wrong) we settled down for the match. Now I’ll not say anything about the match as I’ve already provided a match report for MCIVTA, but suffice to say if City had scored again I doubt Harry & his Chinese mate would have been much protection. Off to the newly renovated bus station and a quick trip to the little boys room, where Harry’s new best friend followed in us about 2 mins later (‘Er Harry did you notice he fell asleep in the pub during the match?).

Harry:
This Chinese old guy sat at our table to watch the match and rather disconcertingly kept laughing along to our conversation. He even said things occasionally but I have no idea what it was. Even more worryingly he reappeared in the new sci-fi style toilets at the new bus station (yes they still build a new bus station every few months). The match was, as you all know, crap. The only excitement was when Jimbo jumped up and cheered for the City goal and it looked like he might get a kicking. If that happened I would have pointed out to the assembled non-mensa members that as I was his mate, I got first punch.

James:
A quick exit and on to Morecambe which has a better pavement to walk on, but it is getting worse year by year (why the hell are they pulling Frontierland down?). Footie Match 2 – Morecambe v Forest Green, the only high (low?) being 7 England cap wonder Tony Daley not starring on the left-side of midfield. 2-0 it finished to Forest Green with the Morecambe keeper letting a head high shot slip through his fingers and into the net. And they ran out of pies! Bussed it to town and then another taxi to the Uni (how much did this weekend cost me?) for footie match 3.

Harry:
Yup no pies, which was a shame as the chips were terrible. As was the game. Tony Daley put on the sort of performance Tommy Coyne would have been proud of. He ran about a lot on the left wing and would periodically disappear if there was a danger the ball might approach his part of the pitch. Truly one of the poorest performances I have ever witnessed from a player. He had all the ball control of Steven Hawking on the way home from the pub.

James:
The ride up to Uni was mainly a verbal ear battering off the driver who informed us that Walkabout (Aussie theme bar next to Brooks) was great and on a 2 for 1 night beer was working out at 50 p a pint – this man either had shares in the place or wanted to take us straight back into town.

Harry:
There’s nothing worse than a mouthy cabbie. At least he wasn’t a Nazi. Jimbo and I once hitched to campus and the guy driving the van was a National Front member who proceeded to tell us all about Himmler.

James:
After remembering where TV rooms were in Cartmel, Lonsdale (turned into a study room), Bowland (did we ever find it?), Furness and finding none had Sky on, so some things never change. We spotted a crowd next to the bar in Fylde and seated ourselves to watch a frankly crap match. I think we were od-ing on football by then. Food was then obtained from Wibbly Wobbly Too (somewhere near Grizedale) and then back to Cartmel bar for pool & more Cool Cask beer – unlucky Harry, how many games did you lose? 😉

Harry:
All of them as you damn well know.

James:
We met up with a couple of students (I work with one of the student’s mums – Harry do you think we were wrecked? Only that is the report I got at work on Monday!) We commented on the improvement on the beer and food, but found out that students still frequent Limelights (why?). We were eventually thrown out of the bar at 11.30 pm (the bars now stay open until 11 pm!) and ventured back to the rooms, where a bottle of Jamiesons was sampled.

Harry:
I think we got quite merry. Maybe by the standard of the current bunch of Cartmel Bar lightweights we were wasted but it was hardly championship quality drinking on our part. Still a good night was had by all, ‘cept I got whipped at pool. Not only are the bars open until 11pm, they don’t close during the afternoon. That means there is a full 11 hours of drinking to be had 6 days a week in Cartmel Bar. Kinda wish I was still there.

James:
Next day it was all over and after vacating our rooms before the 10 am curfew we sampled yet more food from Diggles, where a well-deserved bacon and sausage bun was purchased. It’s like we’ve never been away, oh and students now get fined for noise, they don’t visit the Empire just the Carleton, they don’t go to Brooks (has become a local’s night-club), the Sugarhouse is now in competition with Liquid, the students all seem to be drinking plastic shots (artistic towers of these in kitchen windows), everyone knows Kenny (now moved up to chief porter or something similar), the pool tables in Cartmel are the same just different baize, the cues are still bent, the tables aren’t flat, the jukebox still has Zeppelin on it, oh and Rob put the invite to Norwich on hold as we might just recreate a derby/reunion weekend next season!

Harry:
It was a great weekend and it’s a shame you folks missed it. Hope to see you at the next one, yes it’s already been decided there will be a sequel (but not for a derby as we should get together well before I’m 30!). Mines a pint of Theakstons!