Saturday 21 March

In the same way that viewing risqué material on the worldwidewotsit never quite quenches the thirst, so our consumption of multivarious ales at the annual Wigan beer fest still leaves some of us acting like bankers; namely: Sir Dempson Makepeace and your humble narrator, electrified by the scrumpy and on the wrong side of the tracks. There has been some recent debate concerning the ready availability of cheap alcohol in your average supergrocers. Your connoisseur will counter this by highlighting the gulf in quality between the hand-reared stouts of Wigan and the tinned continental pish stacked high down the road at an almost identical price. Who would bother sampling cotton when they’ve just consumed seven pints of silk? No-one is more surprised than I to find the two of us, minutes after leaving the arena of the overweight, standing in a snapping crocodile of queue, trying to buy four ciders for the train home from a hand-rubbing corporation too tight to hire enough staff.

Regular readers will be aware that any previous crimes committed within the yellowing pages of this mechanical journal were of the heart. Only once have I been cautioned by a ‘Peeler’ and that took the form of a quiet word on Portland Street, informing me that I looked rather too dangerous in my latest sartorial mash-up. So prepare to be shocked, dear reader, as I tell you of what happened next. The cuckoo-clock mechanism of the self-serve gently sleeping, the snaking lines of people confounding our need for joyous fun, we abandoned our four-pack of ecstasy in the soft fruit! Then, aghast at the foibles of the system, we re-entered the store, picked it up and ran. Or would have done had we not remembered at that very moment Sir Dempson’s gammy leg (remarkable as he’d spoken of little else all night). Arm-in-arm, cackling, in a scene that must never be relayed to (but will no doubt be repeated by) Sir Dempson and Lady Sparkles’ young son Ernie, we shuffled, staggered, hopped and jiggled our way back to Wigan station.

So how does this action, so out-of-character, sit with me after the event? At first guilt manifests itself like a glorious shining boil as I yell cider-fuelled abuse towards a uniformed grunt as he threatens to expel a drunk from our locomotive. Fine behavior, were the drunk not manifestly more sober than I, Erick hisses. Back home unpunished I maintain a more levelheaded demeanor; consider repaying the supergrocers’ before recalling all the times I’ve been overcharged by their ‘faulty’ machines having purchased a ‘special offer’. Still, you may rest assured that the next time I break the law to this extent will be when refusing to sign up for an identity card when they’re finally introduced to our country; the results of their laughable trialing in Manchester doubtless long ignored by the authorities. Come visit me in gaol on that non-too-distant date. And bring some cider.

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