Monday, 2 August 2010

York - Day One

With a whole week off from work we decided that, rather than stay in and watch True Movies and old episodes of Monk, we would get away for a few days. We chose York just because it was somewhere we had never been together, and there seemed to be a lot of places of interest to visit. No doubt some or all of these places would be inaccessible.

On the journey there I was disturbed to learn that Emma is a Lady GaGa fan. She has a CD with THREE tracks on it which can be rightly attributed to the gobshite Madonna wannabe. That's Lady GaGa, not Emma. Keep up. I myself detest Lady GaGa in a way that is difficult to explain and so I will offer you only the following evidence;

'Rah-Rah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Roma-Roma-Mamaa-Ga-Ga-Ooh-La-La-Want Your Romance'

I think you get my point.

If you are thinking that a disability-related mix-up and subsequent farce is hurtling towards this story then you would be right. It's as predictable as one of Baldrick's cunning plans unfortunately. Two hours of the A1 behind us, we arrived at the Saxon Hotel just outside the city to find that not only was our room inaccessible, but so was the rest of the hotel. There were two steps at the front by the pavement and another in front of the doorway. Not to mention the three more that went down to the only bathroom on the ground floor.

Luckily Emma has experience of putting up with this kind of crap, and so she made a few phone calls. Laterooms, with whom we had made the booking, blamed the hotel for supplying incorrect information, while the hotel staff blamed Laterooms for not informing them that someone would be having the temerity to turn up using a wheelchair. They even took the credit for moving us to a much nicer hotel in the city centre. You get what you pay for though, so it cost a little more. They gave us the £20 car parking fee.

Finally settled into our thankfully accessible hotel we headed off into the city for a snoop around. We found large bridges built on slanted roads which made pushing even short distances feel like a road session with Tanni-Grey Thompson. By the end of my marathon we still had a few hours to kill before the Ghost Walk we had planned on joining in the evening. We tried to visit the Jorvik Viking Centre but made the staggering discovery that due to fire regulations they were unable to admit more than one wheelchair user at a time. I checked with Emma to make sure it really was 2010, before reluctantly agreeing to make a booking for the Friday morning.

And so instead we visited the famous York Minster. If it is not as famous as they like to think and you don't know what I'm talking about I should explain then that it is a cathedral. It has stunning architecture both inside and out, but then it ought to since they are charging you £8 for what is essentially entry into a church. Even that fecking priest from my nephew's Holy Communion service would balk at that. What I noticed most about the Minster was the amount of death in there. There are rows and rows of plaques dedicated to fallen soldiers, noblemen and other such luminaries, many of whom died in gruesome circumstances. A service was taking place which seemed to attract a lot of visitors but after my anti-religious rant I decided not to get too close. I'm not a hypocrite, but at the same time I think that such a historic piece of world class architecture is worth preserving, and visiting for that matter.

The Ghost Walk, or something similar to it, is something we had experienced before in Stratford. This particular York version (there are at least four in what is becoming a thriving tourist industry business) was a little funnier than that, if a little more embarrassing also. It started at the Shambles market, and did so with our Ghostly guide strolling down the road, coming to a stop for fully 10 seconds before scaring the bejesus out of an unfortunate lady with her back to him;

"ARE YOU.....................!" he bellowed;

"Ghost hunting, tonight?"

She daren't say no at that point. And so began a pleasant walk around the city, inter-mingled with spooky stories of York's ghostly history. Saddest of all was the tale of the young girl who is said to haunt one house after being abandoned there by her parents because she had developed black boils under her arms. Her parents believed it was the plague and left her there and then, locked in her room. To boot, they painted a big red cross on the front door to warn any passers by not to enter the house. Our guide claimed that she can still be heard and seen screeching for help and scratching her nails down the bedroom window in an effort to escape. This is the cynical bit. Bollocks she can.

If you are going to go on a Ghost Walk then you better hope you are not chosen by the guide as his comedy prop. The unfortunate Dave seemed to have been chosen only because of his height, but his ordeals included being given a broken horn to blow, and being told to stand in a corner while the rest of the crowd backed him into the wall;

"There's no going back now." the guide quipped.

For his finale he tried to humiliate everyone who had, after all, paid their £5 for the privelege. He walked the group to a position opposite an Italian restaurant and instructed them to wave in unison at the diners. More than one of the restaurant customers waved back stupidly, and far too enthusiastically. For an encore he led the group to the window and had them blow a great big raspberry at the customers. Thumbs pressed into cheeks and everything. The real deal. You can't help but laugh in a situation like this but you get the feeling that if you didn't you'd cry.

It might have been a cheap laugh, but it was a good deal more creative than;

'Rah-Rah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Roma-Roma-Mamaa-Ga-Ga-Ooh-La-La-Want Your Romance'

1 comment:

kez193 said...

Very funny blog and somewhat disappointing to learn that York sucks on the access side of things STILL.

Yes it is 2010, we were supposed to have hover cars by now according to Doc Brown, that dream obviously didn't come true, you would think they would have at least worked out how to get two wheelchair users into a building without them bursting into flames!