Saturday, May 03, 2008


To Thirsk for a glorious afternoon eating nasty food from a burger van, drinking beer out of plastic glasses and losing money. Our usual failed system of betting on horses with nice names was employed yet again. We really should think it through - none of our horses came anywhere close to victory. We parked our car in the poor folk and playwright enclosure, where a bird wasted no time and ceremoniously shat on the roof. Luckily, a gust of wind came along to blow over a half-filled plastic glass of lager that I'd very sensibly balanced on the roof of the car, so the dirty mess was replaced by something stickier. Then, just prior to the 2.35pm race, a bird actually shat on me. "That's lucky," a bloke behind reminded me. He was patently unaware that even the most reliable of talismans would come unstuck when confronted by our losing 'nice name for a horse' system. Our luck didn't change. But we did have fun, which is surely all that matters.

We followed the racing with a trip to Tesco. Needing to buy some kiddy-friendly nail scissors I asked a member of staff the whereabouts of such niche products. "I don't think we sell them," she lied. "If we do, they'll be down here," she muttered, leading me to an aisle full of toiletries and the growing range of Durex products. "No, no, there aren't any," she lied again. I tutted, told her it didn't matter then walked around the corner and found them myself. I suppose the point of a supermarket is that they're self-service.

Keen to carry on in a manner befitting the underclass peasants that we are, we made the mistake of trying to eat dinner at a Two For One pub in north Yorkshire that we'd found ourselves parking close to. A spotty youth masquerading as 'supervisor' told us amid the chaos that seems to frequent these crazy places between the hours of 5-7pm, "There's a wait for tables at the moment but...I can let you have a table for two and a high chair, right now!" Somehow, he'd made the prospect of eating in an oversubscribed, tatty, filthy, noisy, shit heap of an establishment both exciting and exclusive. We asked him to lead the way. He brought the high chair. It was even filthier than the rest of the pub. We lashed Finn to the chair, aware that even he was also looking around wondering what the Health & Safety Executive and Public Health inspectors would make of it all. Then we went to sit down. But there wasn't even enough room to pull our chairs out and, unless we could each develop a rapid case of anorexia nervosa and get our weight down to 3 stone we wouldn't be able to squeeze in here and there was no room to manouevre. We about faced, leaving behind hundreds of folk and their children to it. Baffling that people put up with this. We may have a child, I may have children and we may, very often, like to eat out but I am not an aninal... We ended up eating at the quite fantastic Maxi's in Nether Poppleton. It's in a very, very odd place - smack in the middle of an industrial estate - but the Cantonese food and family-style dining experience was lovely. Paul the giraffe - who was arrested at Thirsk racecourse for streaking down the final furlong - joined us upon his release from the cells and he enjoyed Maxi's too.

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