Its the late 1970s and I’m ensconced in contractors digs in Whitley Bay, I won’t name the place for fear of The Sue but if the name “Per Mar Whitley Bay” ever crops up in a conversation you should just nod wisely and through narrowed eyes say something like “I think I’m doing something else that weekend actually”.
Relax, it doesn’t exist anymore, in 1979 the owner declared that she was sick and tired of caring for building site workers who came in blathered every night from Matty’s Bar down the road and more often than not pissed the bed rather than stagger down the hallway to the one toilet per floor that she had kindly provided, instead she threw them all out (I’d left the shit-hole weeks earlier) and re-invented the place as an old peoples home, old people apparently don’t piss the bed as often as building site workers, or maybe she was just being very, very ironic.
I don’t really know why I stayed there for two years, actually I do and it wasn’t for the luxurious accommodation or the five star gourmet menu for The Per Mar was none of these, it was for the fact that bed, breakfast and evening meal cost only £4 a night and for the fact that the inmates were mainly an absolute hoot to live amongst, rather like living in an asylum where the inmates think that they are the normal ones and the rest of the world is so boring to not want to walk twenty yards down the street and not get steaming drunk and play pool all night long, then piss the bed through the night.
At times and for a 22 year old who finds himself living in a strange town where the locals speak a different language and the “friends” that you share a home with all piss the bed every night, it seemed like I was repeating the phrase “How did it come to this” an awful lot of times every week, lying on my single bed in my cupboard of a room that was only nine inches wider and twelve inches longer than the single bed with the huge divot in the middle where a thousand on one other guests had slept every night for god knows how many years since the mattress had been changed, at times like those I listened an awful lot to Dr Hook and the Medicine Show.
I had purchased a Marantz portable stereo tape player, perhaps the best bit of stereo kit I ever bought and the song “The Last Morning” became an anthem, the story of a man living somewhere he doesn’t want to be and looking forward to the day when he quits his job and goes home, it struck a resonance, I wonder why ?
And then along came a job offer back in Leeds, working for my old boss at a better rate of pay I accepted it without question, and then three days later when I told my boss at the Newcastle office and he matched the offer I accepted his offer instead, and I sit here 35 years later and I still don’t know why, but I made one big change, I got out of the Per Mar and moved fifty yards down the street to The Queens, a proper pub/hotel, painted walls and wallpaper and all of the sort of luxuries for £7 a night that The Per Mar just couldn’t offer a young man, but I couldn’t afford an evening meal at those rates and so changed to a gorge-yourself-at-full-English-breakfast diet, which then had to last all day, and did, apart from copious amounts of lager most nights – I loved life at The Queens and stayed for another five years.
It was at The Queens that I shared the residents TV room with The Tremeloes one night and then a few weeks later with Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, what do you mean you’ve never heard of them, let me tell you this, when you sit there in the residents TV room of a Tuesday evening watching the six o’clock news and the door opens in in walk five blokes and they sit on a settee and two chairs just across the room from you and you nod in that way that blokes do when they say “hello” but no-one actually says “hello” because blokes only nod in order to acknowledge each other – then you do a double take because something seems familiar about these five blokes and then you realise that they have sat in the same order as the name of their 1960s popular beat combo and it really must be Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch because you half recognise them and only the members of that 1960s popular beat combo would actually still sit in that order but because you’re a bloke and not a silly giggling woman you can’t shout out “Oh my god its 1960s popular beat combo Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, my heroes …” so you just ignore them – well it makes your week that all and 35 years later you’re still boring the pants of anyone who will listen to the story…
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