Or, as I remember it, Belper, Belper, Belper. Town with a name that sounds a bit like ‘belcher’. Town that still had a half day closing on Wednesday, town that had at least two chip shops, an Indian restaurant, a pizza shop, a Safeways, a small independent book shop which only ever stocked 3 books (all of them cheaper in Waterstones), a TV rental shop, a French restaurant and a video shop which had the whole of Poldark and the Onedin Line available for rental. And which, according to the internet has nothing do with the filming of ‘Women in Love’.
Belper is, I’m sure, lovely, but my way of living and my general feelings of misery, far away from my support group of friends, made it just the sort of place to go wild and get really fat! So I did...
The only good thing about Belper at the time was that it was on a hillside, and to get to the pizza shop, the Indian restaurant and one of the chip shops, I had to walk up the hill. However, the other chip shop and the Safeway were not at the top of the hill. And one of the people I worked with had a relative who worked in the Thorntons Factory and quite often gave me bags of broken boiled sweets and chocolate.
I often stopped off in Safeways to get food for dinner.
‘Ah!’ I hear you say, ‘so this is when your love of cooking started? Tell us a story of a magnificient feast you prepared! No doubt using the finest fresh ingredients sourced from local Derbyshire farms.’
Well, I shall…
First a couple of scotch eggs, lovingly cut in half and eaten. Then a 5 pack of sausage rolls, possibly jumbo, and a sharing pack of salt and vinegar Discos (not shared). A few cheese and corned beef sandwiches made with thick Warburtons bread. Perhaps a glass of wine – the finest Ernest and Hulio Gallo Ruby Grenache) or if you feel like really spoiling yourself, a 2 litre bottle of Diet Irn Bru. Of course, it has to be ‘diet’, one is not a glutton! Then a few more crisps and dessert…. a delicious pair of vanilla slices slathered in cream and preservatives. All washed down with a bit more Irn Bru, and maybe the other two scotch eggs (not cut in half, this would be too much like food preparation – probably chomped down in three bites). This is the way a true gourmet feasts on a balmy summer evening in Belper.
And then to bed.
Yes, to bed, lying supine on the finest unlaundered sheets whilst your stomach groans and aches. You may turn over to press your swollen belly into the mattress, but to no avail. The pain is intense. Pain, or pleasure, after such a magnificient and nutritious feast! All that food stuck in your stomach and not wanting to leave – all of it having a party in your intestines to which you are not invited – you can hear the party going on – it is noisy and raucous – but you can’t enjoy it, it is just keeping you awake). Eight long hours follow where you roll from side to side wishing that you were dead, if only the pain would stop (yep, definitely pain, not pleasure) and then finally as the sun rises over the horizon and another working day must start, you are overcome with fatigue and your stomach revolts against the Safeways finest junk food and relegates it to the lavatory bowl via whichever means is fastest.
Great days in Belper!
n.b. this only happened once!