We were on the terrace of Blackpool Cricket Club at the weekend, at last enjoying local, summer sport in sunshine – well, some of the time.
The conversation roamed here and there, over a cold one or two. That’s part of the attraction of this leisurely interest, for those of you who would rather watch paint dry.
I say this as our conversation, the inspiration for this week’s column, was with a retired painter and decorator. Such time-honoured tradesmen have much experience over the decades, with diverse people in different places, that is often surprisingly illuminating.
Decorators, especially, work to achieve people’s home dreams and often learn more about their domestic lives. Tony, the chap in question, used to do lucrative contracts in London, revealing to us afterwards how it had become a conurbation of suburban palaces, for absent wealthy foreigners taking over our capital from locals.
Last weekend he was sharing experiences further away. “Used to work with a chap who helped decorate Saddam’s palaces in Baghdad,” he was telling us, during an entertaining 20-20 clash.
“You know, the people in Iraq loved us British,” he continued. “Once a taxi driver discovered you were English he’d often waive his fare. What’s more, they recruited heavily from the UK. Their hospitals were full of Irish nurses.”
Tony’s eyes glimmered with amused tolerance. “The lads had a great time!”
What went so horribly wrong, we silently pondered while appreciating our idyllic surroundings overlooking a blooming Stanley Park in peace and comfort.
Now we see that same city, with others in their beleaguered land and region, shattered by years of conflict which also inspired terrorism across the world.
Politicians have a lot to answer for and, from our view of the world on that sunny terrace, the only ones to gain were those oil and weapons tycoons now building palaces here.
• For Roy’s books visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.com.