Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Fish and chips.

Growing up in a small village just north of Whitby on the north east coast of England, I took a lot of things for granted. I was invariably irritated by the way village life means nothing is private, by the sporadic, limited but extortionate bus service, by the lack of jobs and by the permanent freezing wind. It was easy to feel trapped and want to escape into anonymity of the big world as soon as possible. Which I did.

I left after A-levels and didn't hang around to find out the results - I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. And I moved around quite a bit before settling in London. Now that I'm here I really appreciate the things I grew up with - even if I didn't realise it at the time, it was a brilliant place to be.

The sea, on our doorstep. I love the sea and spend a lot of time trying to convince Oliver to come to a beach - any beach - with me, to smell the air and feel right at the edge of the world. The woods, also on our doorstep. We had a den, we actually had the best den in the village and it had a trap hole and an escape route and we threw poisonous berries at people who walked past. The weather, for those few weeks every summer when is was just perfect. That actually did make up for the rest of the (hurricane-like) year.

The pubs - it has been said that there are more pubs per capita than anywhere in the country, although I've since heard that said about many other places so maybe it isn't true. But anyway, the pubs were good in Whitby, for a teenager (although not the - singular - club. Unless you were 14).

And the fish and chips. I cannot believe how I took this for granted. We had a chippy in our village, and it was really good. Still is actually. Sometimes I would have a second tea from the chippy with my friend Sue. I guess I just thought that everywhere was like that. But sadly, I was wrong.

I've lived in various places abroad which could be forgiven for not having fish and chips, but also in Newcastle, Sheffield and Nottingham. Not to mention various boroughs of London over the last ten years. Nowhere can I find a decent fish and chip shop. Even at the coast, I've tried Brighton (good effort) and Bournemouth (don't even bother) and recently somewhere in Suffolk (quite good) but nothing really compares to Fuscos in Whitby. Cod, chips and scraps. With a nice cup of tea and a slice of soft buttered white bread. Seriously. What else could you ask for.

People think I'm joking when I say that you can't get decent fish and chips outside Whitby, but I'm not. I mean it. You can't.