Saturday, 11 February 2012

JUST IN CASE I SHOULD BE ACCUSED OF LACKING FAITH in Wisbech, I would like to post, Julie Andrews-like, a few of my favourite things. Starting with Local Retail And Sales Opportunities (shops, to you). I have to state that I have not received a penny piece for these endorsements, not a sausage, let alone a slice of smoked haddock, a packet of washers, let alone a pair of XXXL Y-fronts. These emporia get a mention because they are, simply, bloody good shops. In no particular order - Discount Cycles. One of my sons, who is a Trianthlon enthusiast, actually brings his bike (which is worth more than my car) up from darkest Balham (Gateway To The South) to be tinkered with by the gentleman who runs this shop.

Just across the road, is another rarity - a proper hardware and ironmongery shop staffed by (hushed tones) people who actually know stuff about what they sell. Ironically, given the amount of incoming fire being generated at the moment by the question of our Eastern European cousins, the main man in Anglia Locksmiths seems to be from those parts, and very knowledgeable he is too. Yes, I know it doesn't open on Sundays, and some people may actually LIKE wandering the aisles of a well-known DIY chain for hours, unhindered by interruptions from staff or experts, but ....well, I'll stop there. They have lawyers.

I LOVE FOOD. I may not have the appetite I once had, but I am one of those pub bores who knows that most food simply doesn't taste as good as it used to, particularly if you only contribute to the pre-tax profits of Messrs TESCO and Walmart. There are at least two Wisbech  destinations that deserve 'National Treasure' status.  Firstly, Rout's Fish Stall on the market. I don't know how long ago in the mists of time anyone called 'Rout' ran it, but the lady who runs it now is worth a visit even if she didn't sell delicious fresh seafood. She is funny and an inveterate gossip, with an abrasive wit - so much so, that if she gets up a head of steam, I am often completely distracted, and end up with a bag of goodies far in excess of what I set out to buy. Perhaps that's the plan, but for mussels, crab and samphire in season, this stall is a complete joy.

For more blood stained and fleshy pleasures, stroll twenty yards into Franks. A brilliant, chloresterol-boosting, artery-constricting, blood-pressure spiraling old fashioned English pork butcher. Even as I write, I can hear the sinister clatter of the jackboots of the Food Nazis as they stamp along Wisbech's cobbled streets. Yes, I know we don't have any, but The Daily Mail thinks we do, so be quiet. In Franks, you can buy absolutely any part of a pig (apart from its reproductive organ and its tail) turned into a delicious meal. I am actually not certain about my caveat in brackets, but no matter. Good things of a very different kind can be found in the area's only proper music shop - Wisbech Music Centre. Guitars, amps, PAs and sheet music are the speciality, but Carmen has a lifetime's experience in the music business, and you will always get straight talking, good advice and an honest deal.

TO CONCLUDE THIS PIECE OF VIRTUAL RETAIL THERAPY I would like to take you through the doors of Wisbech's Premier Ladies' and Gentlemen's Outfitters. OK, sorry, Robert Goddard, but if I want an XXXL pair of long-johns with a button fly and a no-shrink guarantee, you are simply not going to have it, are you? And anyway, I would be too embarrassed to ask your impossibly glamorous and tanned assistants for something so sordid. Please don't sulk. When I am adding a post about where slim-but-powerfully-built, lantern-jawed, steely-eyed estate agent types go to buy their apres-ski stuff, you will be uppermost in my thoughts. I digress. EVISONS. It is an established fact that Evisons appears on every Lilian Ream photograph, and also every mezzotint and engraving of Wisbech dating back to the 15th century. So it's well established, OK..? It sells clothes that are warm comfortable, practical, hard-wearing, and possibly still made by turbaned lasses in t' mills of 'uddersfield and Stalybridge. AND BY THE WAY - those of you who are addicted to 'Desperate Midwives', or Midwives' Wives', or whatever it is called, check the closing credits. It says COSTUME AND WARDROBE PROVIDED BY MESSRS EVISONS OF WISBECH. Would I lie to you...?

 HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK...? Well, apart from the astonishing ‘Wisbech Commemorative Edition – Yours To Pull Out And Keep’ from The Wisbech Standard (of which more later) my gob was well and truly smacked by watching a video, posted on YouTube, and then linked on Facebook. 

 It is called ‘Overcome’, and would be a good enough piece of work in its own right if it had appeared on MTV, but when you consider it was made by, and featured, local young people from the migrant community, that adds an extra dimension to it, particularly in the light of recent events.

 The music is, of course, from further afield, but the final mix is pretty special. Watch and listen for yourself.