By ITV News reporter Geriant Vincent
Every reporter needs a good raincoat. Given the speed at which summer disappeared this year I invested in a new one a couple of weeks ago.
Since then, my navy blue, whipcord raincoat has been hanging in my wardrobe, waiting for its first appearance on air. When sent to Blackpool to cover the story of the shale gas reserves, I knew its time had come.
As I interviewed the chairman of the drilling company in the foyer of the Imperial Hotel, horizontal rain hammered at the big bay windows. I felt a warm glow of self satisfaction, knowing I had come prepared. When my cameraman, Simon, suggested fish and chips on the Golden Mile, I turned up my coat’s collars and scurried after him.
I was dry, but starving, by the time we reached the Coral Island Fish Bar. I devoured a delicious piece of cod, which sat on a mound of mushy peas. Simon picked fat chips out of a tray of gravy.
When we’d finished the sun had come out, and it was back to Preston to put our report together and send it via satellite truck back to London. We were packing up after getting the all-clear from the newsroom when I opened the back door of the van and felt a wave of panic. My mac was missing. How could I have been so stupid? We couldn’t remember what the chip shop was called so ringing them up was not an option. I was disconsolate, and resigned myself to its loss. Simon was more determined. “Let’s go back and get it,” he said.
I was sure this was a fool’s errand. When we arrived at the Bonny Street car park, well after 10pm, to discover the fish bar had closed up for the night. Simon told me to go and ask at the arcade next door. The flashing lights and fairground music contrasted sharply with my mood as I approached the lady at the change counter. “Excuse me madam,” I said hopefully. “I left my coat in the fish and chip restaurant earlier on, I was wondering whether anyone might have handed it in?”
She got on the radio, and above the screams of the ghost train and the bells on the slot machines, she bellowed my question to each of her colleagues, who were stationed at various points around the arcade. After a few minutes, she shouted at me through the glass -- “It’s in the snack bar love!”
I padded quickly across the carpet. They were clearing up in the snack bar, but a lady in a red and white striped apron had seen me coming, and produced my coat -- on a hanger - from behind the office door. I nearly kissed her.
Back in the car park, I opened the door of the van and held the coat out in front of me, like Jason carrying the golden fleece. Simon cheered, I smiled, and we floated back down the M55.
Thank you Blackpool.