Lancaster Reunion 2003

In February 2003 a few of us old Cartmelians (and a Lonsdale lad) made our way to the hallowed ground of Lancaster University. Those present were James, Harry, Alex, Loz, Giles and Kevin. Here is a tale of another weekend of old farts living in the past. Hope you enjoy it.

James:
It was going to be the magnificent seven, but due to impending marriage and house moving arrangements of last year’s infamous late night escapades Mr Mickleburgh we ended up as just a nice round 6.

Harry:
And we are pleased to welcome two new entrants in the reunion hall of fame. Sir Alex of Walsh graced us with his presence this year as did Lord Giles of Middleton. Good to see our web based waffling and tales of drunken pizza ordering has had an effect and brought some new blood to these events.

James:
Arrival this year was all by car with Gilesy and me arriving just after 6pm, allowing us the opportunity to park where the hell we wanted on campus. Gilesy it is fair to say wasn’t in the best of health, having claimed to have eaten a metal object. Either he’d been watching too much Simpsons (the one where Bart swallows a metal object from a packet of Krusty Flakes) or he’d been at the Shuriken Stars again! Due to the fact that we were first at the Uni, we had a pick of the rooms, so chose the one at the end of the corridor, which (because size matters) was the larger of the two in this block. The third room was somewhere across a courtyard, which later gave Kev & Loz the privacy they’d desired.

Harry:
My car was suffering quite a bit at the time. Unknown to me I had two cylinders not giving full compression and actually needed the valve springs adjusting. At the time all I knew was whenever it was damp (every fucking day in the north) then my car coughed and spluttered like a fresher taking his first toke. So the journey to Lancaster wasn’t a barrel of laughs that evening. Luckily I actually work not to far away from Preston, just up the M65, so that gave a little respite as my poor car coughed and spluttered through the torrential rain. I’d forgotten my contact lenses too, so I had to endure rain, a dying car and not actually being able to see. I navigated via the sense of smell, my olfactory senses zeroing in on the peculiar smells we left behind in the Haverthwaite kitchen ten years ago. Now that’s scary isn’t it? The idea that we started Uni ten years ago. Where does the time go, I must get round to getting a proper job sometime soon.

James:
First of the stragglers to arrive was Harry and surprisingly he decided to park his car right near the rooms. In my infinite wisdom I encouraged him to park near Cartmel College, as “It’s closer”. With the rain descending it was decided that the next place of call should be a little known tavern going by the name of Cartmel Bar.

Harry:
Well the trip from near Burnley to Lancaster is actually quicker than the one I take home (which shows how far I commute every day) so it was pretty easy to get to Lancaster fairly swiftly. James directed me to an appropriate parking location via the medium of mobile telephone, I am much more au fait with the device than I was at the last reunion where it was a new and magical item at the time, primarily used for chatting up evil women who’d spend all my money on cake and jump up and down on my poor wee little heart. I popped into the digs to dump my stuff and say hello to Gilesy. Every year it seems we have a heroic performance at these events. Last year it was Rob’s epic drive northwards just for one night. In 2003 Gilesy battled illness to join us, valiant stuff Gilesy mate, well done.

James:
After ordering bottles of Becks? ¬£hat is it about becoming old? In the Uni years we had a choice of Guinness, Depth Charges (whiskey dropped into Guinness), Chasers, Theakstons ‘Contradiction in Terms’ Best Bitter, Theakstons XP, and a sample of the each optic as our poison. Yet since we’ve been back it has been Lager and bottles of Becks!! I do admit I have skipped the first reunion, which involved the quite majestic Theakstons Cool Cask, but Cartmel seemed free of any real Bitters.

Harry:
I think our first reunion back in 2001 showed James and myself that the Bitter it Cartmel Bar was a lost cause. There’s another issue with this drinking of Becks too. I am getting old, I don’t drink as much as I used to and find it harder to get through hangovers without sounding like Albert Steptoe. Helpfully those German chappies at Becks have made a beer that doesn’t seem to give me bad hangovers and for that I salute them.

James:
After a bit of catching up Kev & Loz appeared, with Loz this year remembering the knot in his hanky was to remind him to bring his wallet. Eventually after more Becks, Gilesy appeared looking a little under the weather, though as it was raining you could say the weather was in keeping with his wellbeing. It was sometime around this point that rooms were found and food was obtained from Pizzetta Republic, who surprisingly didn’t recognised Kev’s voice from the telephone order he’d placed last year!

Harry:
Any self respecting pizza place would have had a transcription of Kev’s call on the wall. It was a moment of brilliance that is hard to top. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my visits to Lancaster make me increasingly jealous of the current crop of dossers there – all we had was Limelights and the Chippy. You don’t know real depression unless you’ve gone for a meal on a wet Sunday evening to Limelights; I’m feeling rather queasy thinking about it now. And they have a Wibbly Wobbly burger bar, the gits.

James:
More beer was consumed back at Cartmel Bar although the place was as sparse as last year, with students presumably studying or texting each other from their rooms. As one of the reasons we’d come to Cartmel was celebrate Cal’s leaving, a card was handed round and signed by the 6 of us (Alex had joined us at some point and brought plenty of beer for after hours consumption, good man!). It was at this point that the friendly barman informed us that Cal wasn’t at work as she was ill; presumably Gilesy knew how she felt as not long after he retired to his room.

Harry:
For the second year running the students of Lancaster University and more shockingly, Cartmel Bar, have shown what a bunch of lightweights they have become. It was Friday night, for fuck’s sake, where the hell were they all? We’d travelled miles and miles to be drinking in this finest of watering holes and these buggers have it on their doorstep and don’t bother. It’s enough to make you want to firebomb the Library.

James:
Once the bar had shut, Kev and I somehow found ourselves outside the Holker/Haverthwaite blocks. Deciding that this was too good an opportunity to miss, Kev’s friendly face got some poor unsuspecting student to open the door and let us into Haverthwaite block. She seemed quite surprised what we were doing in Lancaster and even more so when Kev explained we were reminiscing about old times. It was at this point that the current occupant of Kev’s room came to greet us; well actually he scurried quickly into his room allowing us a brief glimpse into his interior decorating skills. Wandering into the block kitchen the first thing to hit us was that it was empty. A Star Wars poster adorned the wall and all the cupboards contained food, but there were no locks. Loz joined us at this point and after texting Matt to inform him of our location, Loz writing some humorous comments into someone’s A4 refill pad we wandered back over to our rooms in Lonsdale College.

Harry:
I can’t remember where I was at this point. But basing things on my time at Lancaster as a student, if the bar was shut then I would probably be found pumping change into a chocolate machine in Lonsdale and trying hard not to look like a fat greedy knacker – and failing.

James:
Kev & Loz retired early, whilst I found Harry & Alex still up supping beers. After a can of beer on the outside balcony I decided it was unfair to wake Gilesy much later than it already was so went to bed.

Harry:
Alex had brought a goodly amount of booze with him. So after the bar closed we took it upon ourselves to drink some of it. It was a freezing cold windy night, so the perfect evening to go and stand on the balcony and chat to some of the students inhabiting this part of the campus. It seems that this building was designed by the chap that created The General Lee, from Dukes of Hazard. There were no doors as such, the balcony was obviously designed for the more intrepid, and one had to climb through the window to get to it. Life doesn’t get much better than standing on a wet balcony in winter, cold beer in one hand, soggy cig in the other. Another perfect Lancaster evening.

James:
Morning broke with the sound of an alarm, which came on, went off, came on, went off etc. Gilesy’s thoughts were that the alarm had no father, though this couldn’t be substantiated with any evidence at the time. The cleaners managed to be arsed to turn up by 10am and asked us if we wanted anything? Presumably bacon & eggs wasn’t one on their lists, so we declined the offer of more coffee & tea. Once the showers had been negotiated we decamped to Harry & Alex’s room where discussion took place over the disgraceful lack of plots in porno films. It was during this conversation that Harry revealed it was his ‘bastarding alarm’ that had been going off, but it hadn’t even made him stir.

Harry:
See, the thing is that I’m a pretty heavy sleeper. There is very little that will wake me up. I have therefore developed a different strategy to wake me up. I make sure I have such an annoying alarm – this one was on my mobile phone – that it wakes others up and gets their dander up. It’s their kicking down the door and punching me in the face that does my actual waking up. I’m a genius, obviously.

James:
Diggles was the next venue of choice for breakfast, although the choice and quality of food left a little to be desired. It was at this point we decided to split up. Harry drove Loz & Gilesy into town whilst Kev & I wandered around campus for a few hours before being chauffeur driven to Blackburn for the football.

Harry:
Every clown must have a car and so the boys got to experience Jodie, my 1983 Ford Sierra 2.0 Ghia. My ailing chugabug coughed and spluttered its way into town, aided by the downhill nature of our progress and a good tailwind. We parked on Dallas Road and wandered into town to get some lunch and have a beer or two.

James:
Kev & I managed to walk as far as the new building work at the far end of campus (beyond the Graduate College), but with large corrugated fences we couldn’t see how well the work was progressing. Instead we were amused to see that the Graduate College looked more run down that the rest of the Colleges put together. As for the rumours that Cartmel was moving to this new site on South campus, I hope not, as it is in the middle of nowhere being close to George Fox building where something called lectures occurred on a casual ad hoc basis.

Harry:
I have heard rumours of lectures at the George Fox building, but I had no truck with such events so cannot verify the, Anyway our happy little crew of Me, Loz, Giles and Alex had decamped to the Blue Anchor for food and booze. Here we told a few jokes and got onto the subject of Limericks. Loz told a couple of great Limericks that really impressed us, even more so as he had written them (Internet investigations have since shown such claims to be bullshit!). We had something to eat and made our way back to my car. Now heavier with food, with an uphill journey ahead of us, I was somewhat nervous that my car would not get us there. As we left the car park we passed over some speed bumps which made the boot of my car fly up – I no longer have the car but I believe it’s now driven by clowns in a Circus.

James:
After wandering back to Lonsdale College we found the delightful John The Barman (“foot on the floor, or arse out the door”) who seemed genuinely pleased that we’d waited for him to sit down with a cup of tea before ordering a couple of pints! We took our pints to the back row to watch the football on the big screen, but were shocked to see ‘Harry’ & ‘Loz’ watching the game from the front row. It was possibly a time warp we’d entered as they looked and dressed how we’d remembered them from Uni days, but they seemed oblivious to our presence. After Andy’s arrival (fellow Man City fan and our driver for the day) we drank more beer before heading off to Blackburn with about 5 minutes to spare! The match was uneventful with City losing 2-0, and with us parking in Burnley we were piss wet through by the time we got back to Cartmel Bar. The rain was absolutely lashing it down and the spray on the motorway made visibility almost zero in places, as Kev remarked, “We had to slow to 80 at one point”.

Harry:
After we made it back onto campus, yes the car got us back; I’m not sure what we did. I have a feeling it involved a change of clothes, a trip to get a burger and the eventual and inevitable trip back to Cartmel Bar. I’m nothing if not predictable.

James:
After sampling the G&T (surely not longer a girls drink since it’s entry into the lyrics of Oasis’ Supersonic), the bar was turned into a nightclub as some bloke with a CD player played a few of his choons to his friends who’d tipped up. The bar extension was on as it was St David’s Day, so the college had thoughtfully provided some daffodils to celebrate with. After a few posed pictures we carried on drinking to prove we weren’t a reunion of the LGB Society. Gilesy was the first to go to bed as he still wasn’t well, but left us a beer voucher so we all toasted his health in his absence. However Friday night’s excess soon caught with us all and we turned in quite early.

Harry:
You’d like to think so wouldn’t you mate? But G&T is a girly drink and just because some scallies from Burnage mentioned it in a song on their debut album doesn’t make it any more heterosexual. As we may have remarked in past trips to Lancaster, the jukebox in Cartmel Bar isn’t what it once was. But even its poor collection of none-Led Zeppelin tracks would have been preferable to the choons on offer from the budding DJ. Saint David’s day in Cartmel bar consisted of a bar extension (of too a good start there at least), daffs on the tables (it was like a Morrissey tribute night) and the DJ, who only seemed to own one CD. And what CD did this DJ have, why he had the soundtrack to Top Gun. Yes students these days think that the height of a good rocking night is Danger Zone Kenny Loggins. I don’t remember turning in that early to be honest – and the pictures certainly give the impression we had plenty to drink. It was a good night in Cartmel Bar, it actually filled up (Lancaster chapter of the Kenny Loggins Fan Club perhaps)

James:
Sunday morning saw us all up and out before the dreaded 10 o’clock arrival of the cleaners. With it being a Sunday, Diggles was shut, so we wandered into the Newsagents (never knew it opened on a Sunday) to buy some form of food. It was at this point my phone vibrated in my pocket to inform me Gilesy had a message for me? “Anyone got a plastic bag on them, or can they get me one? I have explosive runs! I had to go to the toilet because I shit my pants. Don’t want to throw my Calvin Klein boxer shorts away! They are a bit whiffy.” After a few laughs, it was pointed out that I was giving him a lift back. Gilesy eventually turned up whether he was commando no one wanted to ask. Setting off back to the cars we remarked on what a good, if uneventful weekend it had been, except Gilesy had managed to round things off nicely. Harry was the first to leave with his low-slung car gently scraping its way out of Cartmel Avenue. Loose bodywork was dismissed and instead it was decided that Harry’s car was in layman’s terms? Fucked.

Harry:
Yeah here’s the funny thing. If you read the previous articles they contain a lot of madcap adventure. This weekend was more sedate. I had a great time and it was wonderful to catch up with everyone, yet nothing particularly silly went on. Certainly nothing to rival Kev’s pizza ordering from the year before. But just when you think nothing odd was going to happen, Gilesy shits himself. This selfless act of trouser filling for the cause of reunion entertainment is above and beyond the call of duty. Giles sir, we salute you. And then I went to reverse my car out of the parking space and it was making a strange clunking noise. I got out of the car to discover the front left suspension had collapsed. The spring had broken. No I don’t own that car now, but at the time of writing this, the replacement is sat outside my house and that is broken too. I have no luck with cars.

James:
Harry was clever enough to be in the AA (please insert your own jokes here) and was whisked off home, well presumably he was, because no-one could be bothered to stop and wait, except for Alex who’d done a U-turn somewhere near the M6. My money is still on the camera being placed on the car for the group photograph, it obviously didn’t like that extra weight!

Harry:
The AA sent a comedy repair man to fix my car. After his jokes about lowering all the other wheels to match (and other jokes too hilarious to recount here) he decided to tow my car back home. Alex was good enough to give me a lift back home. Which is downright decent of the fella.

And that was it, the end of our third Lancaster reunion. I’ve actually been back to the campus a couple of times recently since then. In fact I sat in Cartmel bar a few weeks ago. But they aren’t really official visits are they? I’m all ready for Lancaster 4 in spring 2004; hope to see you all there again. Cartmel Bar M’Lord, Cartmel Bar! And sorry to Kev & Loz about the photos making you look a bit gay, I’m sure your respective wives won’t mind.