Gary and I took a trip into Leeds city centre on Sunday. Unless you know Gary that might not sound unusual. However, those of you that do will be flabbergasted to know that we were going shopping together. Yes, we actually went into Debenhams and he bought a pair of trousers! He even tried them on in the changing rooms first!
What on earth could have caused this topsy turvy reversal of the natural order where I buy his clothes unaccompanied, guessing his size and he eventually tries them on at his leisure in the comfort of his own boudoir. Those items that fit are gratefully accepted, those that don’t go in the pile of stuff on the chest of drawers to be returned or await the moment in the distant future when they might fit through either the loss or gaining of weight by the aforementioned Gary.
Being a leftie, anti-capitalist socialist he hates the whole business of shopping and would much rather be playing football, watching football, talking bollocks about football, planning future football matches or at the very least be safely ensconced in a pub with a pint.So what had happened?
Earlier in the week we had had a major clear-out. In doing so I went through several old handbags and in one I found some Debenhams vouchers that I had forgotten about…..a mere £110 worth, and as they don’t have expiry dates it seemed they were still valid….even though I had had them stashed away for about 15 years. So on Sunday we were off to spend the vouchers, Gary was coming with me to ensure I spent them wisely and didn’t incur any further expense and….he was in need of a pair of trousers.
We weren’t entirely convinced that the vouchers would work and that we could actually exchange them for goods so we approached the pay desk with a little trepidation. Fortunately, our only hiccup lay in the redeemable value of the vouchers themselves. We had 4 vouchers for £25 each and one for £10 and when you used them to pay for goods you couldn’t be given change. The trousers cost £20. What on earth could we do with this Level 4 SATS maths problem?
Simple! I just had to buy a cardigan and a pair of trousers to make the amount up to £50!
Job done, Gary needed to celebrate his foray into the world of shopping. As luck would have it , just over the way, down a ginnel in the Turk’s Yard was one of the oldest pubs in Leeds, Whitelocks.
Whitelocks has a romantic link for us. It was at Whitelocks that I was first attracted to the loud, moustachioed Economics teacher who seemed to have a “mot juste” for everyone and everything during a staff night out. I particularly remember the way the pub fell into a stunned silence when a huge Australian soldier bearing a massive kit bag on his shoulder burst into the room and forced his way to the bar to be greeted by Gary welcoming him with “Hey up! Action man!”. Was Gary about to be finally pasted for his tongue in cheek greeting and delight in taking the piss out of those senior or in this case larger than himself? No! The gigantic Australian slapped him on his back and bought him several rounds of beers as they continued to swap insults.
Reader, I was enchanted!
Whitelocks , described by John Betjeman “as the very heart of Leeds” was first licensed as the “Turk’s Head” in 1715 and was rebuilt by the Whitelock family in the 1880’s and they created its internal, ornate decor including a long marble bar , beautiful tiles and etched mirrors.
In days gone past it was a favorite haunt of stage stars from the City Varieties close by and gained renown when Prince George entertained a party in a curtained off section. At one time, many years ago, a doorman ensured that only dinner jacketed gentlemen could enter and ladies of course were not allowed at the bar so customers were served by waiters at their tables.
No dinner jackets or table service were to be seen on Sunday. The place was packed to the gills though with folks coming for Sunday Dinner and we were very lucky immediately on arrival to acquire one of the small round cast iron tables.
Before long my consumption of liquid comestibles meant I needed to pay a visit to the ladies. I climbed a very steep and narrow stairway, perilous for anyone who had had more than a few alcoholic beverages, to gain access to a room containing the grandest throne I had ever beheld. A sumptuous mahogany seat, wide enough for the largest of ladies bottoms sat like a howdah upon the back of a china elephant. Yes I did say the back of an elephant!
With its beautiful black and white tiled floor, brass fittings and chain for old fashioned flushing this must be the poshest loo in Leeds!
Or even the whole of Yorkshire!