Thursday 7 August 2008

Prawns less tasty than pigs shock

14st 0lb; 6.0 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,277; Gosforth.

Anyone who passed my house this morning would have heard the distinctive sound of heavy, rusty iron bolts being slammed into place to secure the stable, a couple of days after the horse wisely sugared off to somewhere much more interesting and attractive. Or, to put it another way, I spent a couple of hours creating a comprehensive back-up of all my computer files on the new, external hard drive I bought after lunch in Newcastle yesterday. This included all my surviving Outlook Express e-mail messages. It has been chilling to discover, over the last few days, how much useful information I had left sitting around in e-mails that I had failed to save anywhere outside my original and now vanished inbox. Any reader who is similarly careless would do well to consult the simple instructions at, and to follow them without delay. That was a public service announcement.

Another thing I can strongly recommend from direct personal experience is a pork pie from the Rothbury Home Bakery, which is not a sponsor of Bloke in the North. Not yet, at any rate, though I am open to offers. I bought one when I went to pick up my defunct desktop from the computer shop. Still warm from the oven (the pie, that is, not the Hewlett Packard), and simply served with rocket, a sliced tomato and some pickled onions, it made the most delicious lunch I have enjoyed for some time.

This afternoon I drove to Gosforth for a haircut, which may seem like a pretty ridiculous and environmentally unfriendly thing to do when Alnwick is little more than a quarter of the distance away, and contains a wholly implausible number of gents’ hairdressers, almost outnumbering the charity shops. But, in my defence, the bloke in Gosforth does do a cracking job and I previously had my hair cut in St James’s in London, a round trip of some 650 miles. So I am doing my bit for the future of the planet, much as if I had traded down from a holiday in the Caribbean to one in the Balearic Islands.

I headed back north up the A1 with the familiar feeling that all that was needed to make the day perfect was a pint of English ale and a packet of pork scratchings. Perhaps, on reflection, I am becoming a bit fixated on pig-based products. I considered a number of possible pubs where I might fulfil this dream, then concluded that I might as well just have the beer at home and pick up some pork scratchings from Sainsbury’s in Alnwick on the way. A fine theory, falling down because this particular branch proved not to sell the bloody things. I should have risen above my prejudice and gone to Morrison’s. As it was, I decided to buy some pistachio nuts as a substitute, until I reeled with exaggerated horror, like an extra in a Hammer film, on reading the calorie count on the bag. I ended up with prawn crackers. It was not the same.

Moral: do not shilly-shally like I did. Support your local boozer. You’ll be sorry when it’s gone. You know it makes sense.

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