Saturday 26-11-11: dinner with Mr & Mrs CJ

I left Suburbia Somnolenta after 09:00. Before leaving, I phoned Mrs CJ to confirm that I would be coming to Peakville.
For the first time ever, I drove straight to Bert’s, arriving at about 12:20. There was only one car parked on the forecourt, at the left-hand side — it was the blue car, its nose towards the shop. Both men were behind the counter, but only Short Woman. There were several other customers, but no-one that I recognised.
My dinner-appointment next door was for 19:00. The menu was pâté with salad; gammon steak, potatoes with cheese and orange, carrots and cauliflower; black cherry cheesecake; cheese and biscuits; coffee. (Something of a theme in that menu!) Mr CJ and I had a beer beforehand, and we all drank red wine with the meal.
Things we discussed:

Mrs CJ has got rid of her Mercedes, which was going to require some expensive repairs to keep it on the road. Her replacement car is a few years younger, and she is pleased with it even though it is a manual rather than an automatic like the Mercedes and its predecessor.
When Mr & Mrs CJ were having their garden shed built, but the window had not yet been fitted, the Deceased Lady had commented to Mr CJ, who was standing inside, that he looked as though he was selling ice-cream. Mrs CJ had found this very funny.
Del and Della have still not managed to sell their house. They are hoping to rent it out. Del has finally been given his promotion, and is spending a lot of time away from home.
When Mrs CJ was a girl, she and her siblings would often spend a day in Shortlands Park. They would take sandwiches with them, and if their mother had the money she would enable them to buy “a bottle of pop” – if not, they would take a bottle of water.
Many pubs have recently closed in Peakville and in Suburbia Somnolenta — such as the Jolly Farmer. I said that the Old Man could not believe it when I told him that the Wild Rover was now a convenience store. Mr RW, who lived in Mr & Mrs CJ’s house during my childhood, did not like people to know how many pints of beer he drank of an evening, so he would have two pints in each of four pubs — driving from one pub to the next. (Those were the days! — before the breathalyser.)
We compared local fish-and-chip shops. Mr & Mrs CJ rate Bert’s highly, but don’t like Salty Sally’s. They informed me that the man who lives at number 35 runs a fish-and-chip shop near the GP surgery. They reckon it is very good. Perhaps I shall try that shop on the next occasion that Bert’s is closed. (Mr & Mrs CJ were under the impression that Bert’s was open on only a few days per week, and not for very long on those days.)
We also discussed two fish-and-chip shops that have closed — the first in Despard Street, which Mr & Mrs CJ knew about, and the second (which they didn’t know about, as it is so long gone) in George Street where some bungalows now stand. I told them that the proprietress of the second shop “was a dragon, but she certainly knew how to cook fish and chips!” If you asked for scraps, she reacted as though you were putting in an order for gold-dust — and wanting it free-of-charge. Over the years, a succession of women in late middle age assisted the dragon. She eventually retired, and the Chinese people who took the shop over did not have a clue. (I should have told Mr & Mrs CJ about the dragon’s potato-peeling and potato-chipping machines, which I well remember.)
I told Mr & Mrs CJ that when I had last visited Padstow, it seemed to have been taken over by Rick Stein and his various enterprises. Mr & Mrs CJ once visited Padstow with Mr CJ’s father. A local loud-mouth who had parked illegally was unhappy when Mr CJ’s father misjudged a manoeuvre and scraped his car. He accused Mr CJ of being “a social security scrounger” — which was, and is, far removed from the truth.

[Original posting 26 November 2012]

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