The Duke - July 30, 2014

Robin Duke
Robin Duke
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Two things I vow I will not be doing from the self-imposed luxury of retirement are: 1) writing a book 2) standing for the local council.

That’s not to undermine those – well nearly all of those – who do one or the other or both.

A former school friend and once close neighbour of mine from my Leeds days, Peter Robinson, has made a fortune and an international reputation as a crime novelist; a close relative is sure fame waits just round the corner now she’s realised she is one of the last of the true mystics (or was it now she’s lost her blue lipstick? Curse this impaired hearing of mine); one former colleague is happily churning out insta-books based largely on his world travels while another is about to go into print with his adventures criss-crossing the country on a free bus pass.

Good luck to them all but it’s not for me. Apart from the fact that my rotten memory has dispatched most of my experiences to the out tray, who would truly give a monkey’s about who I’ve met, what I’ve done, where I’ve been etc etc?

If I’d got £100 for everyone who has said “ooh I bet you could write a book about what you’ve seen and heard” then I’d probably be wealthy enough not to write a book based on it in the first place. Couple that with “You must know a secret or two” and I could have retired years before I actually did.

No, I’m happy enough to have been banging out columns like this for more years than I (literally) can remember without having to set myself a target of x-thousand words a day and trying to think of opening paragraphs better than Snoopy’s from umpteen Peanuts strips (“It was a dark and stormy night” – was actually based on Edwards Bulwer-Lytton’s opening line to his rightfully maligned 1830 novel ‘Paul Clifford’).

But I digress.

Granted there have been times in the past when I’ve toyed with storytelling.

There was the one about the local newspaper editor who mysteriously vanished after attending the opening of a town centre development he had strongly opposed (ok, it was at a pretty unsettled time in my career) and the one about the journalist who made a fortune keeping 
secrets out of the newspapers he worked for (chance would be a fine thing). So, no worries, all those real secrets are safe with me because I’ve mostly forgotten them.

As for becoming a councillor, no thanks. Not that anyone has actually asked me to stand – or even hinted that it might be a halfway good idea. Apart from the fact that at a local level I would have no idea which party to throw my energies into (local politics are so very different to national ones and on more than one occasion I’ve voted locally for the person rather than the party – not something I’d do in a “proper” election) I don’t think I could contain my patience. Or retain my sanity.

And I haven’t got the confidence (or inclination) to stand independently.

I mean what if no one voted for me and I was beaten into last place by some loony wanting to convert all nightclubs into car parks? Or restrict licensing hours to when the temperature drops below freezing point in July?

Thankfully other people have clearly got more bottle than me and I was impressed to see that North Pier’s resident jester Joey Blower 
recently Facebooked that he’s toying with the idea of 

And why not?

After all, he was the first person to suggest that zoning Blackpool town centre into go and no go areas was a good idea years before it became a vote-catching gimmick.

His idea (assuming it’s not a joke) is to shake or shock things up from the inside.

More power to his elbow I say. He’s got more going for him than some already elected councillors. He’s popular. He speaks his mind. He’s got a sense of humour. That’s three plus points.

As for me, I’d miss being able to have the occasional pop at them if I was one of them wouldn’t I?

Living the dream at The Thactched House

When I was a lad. Sorry, sorry. For fear of sounding too “ey up I’ve left me flat cap in’t outside toilet” I’ll start again.

When I was a teenager….. it was just about every acne-faced male youth’s dream to want to meet and marry a publican’s daughter.

It had little to do with the long hours, fractured family life or cleaning up other peoples’ mess the following day that probably went with it.

It was, let’s face it, just a dream, loosely based on the promise of copious amounts of free alcohol and opportunity to vet all future barmaids.

Bearing in mind The 
Manager’s family were virtually Temperance, the nearest to realising my dream I got was Jim.

He was a friend from my A Level days at college in Leeds, whose dad had a pub in 

Obviously I never told him my publican’s daughter dream for fear of endangering our otherwise good friendship – but it was a start.

Next came a spell of brewing my own beer but it was rarely better than foul tasting and usually cloudier than a Test Match sky. I ended up lending my home brew kit to someone – and more than 30 years down the line I still haven’t got it back.

So imagine my delight when Vin Hamer, the landlord of my favourite local, The Thatched House in Poulton, launched his own micro-brewery.

As with Jim I’ve not troubled Vin with my teenage dreams but what a joy it is to find my favourite local serving a couple of excellent beers (Blonde and Golden) which I can pretend are just for me. All right, I’ve got to fight off 
everyone else to get to them before they run out but at least I don’t have to marry anyone for them. Cheers!