The Likely Lads

Kent Life - - On The Mic -

‘My male friends are all as bad as each other when it comes to the niceties

of keep­ing in touch’ Two mates and work col­leagues, liv­ing close by, yet they only fi­nally got to meet up 320 miles from home

I’m bump­ing into old friends... Us blokes are rub­bish. Well, this one is any­way. My male friends are all as bad as each other when it comes to the niceties of keep­ing in touch.

We may ‘like’ a pic­ture on Facebook, retweet some­thing amus­ing on Twit­ter or ‘love’ a gor­geous dis­play of pho­tog­ra­phy on Instagram, but when it comes to birthday cards, talk­ing on the phone or heaven for­bid ac­tu­ally mak­ing an ar­range­ment to meet, well, blue moons and squadrons of fly­ing pigs are more likely.

BBC Ra­dio Kent’s Steve Lad­ner and I live ex­actly six miles apart here in the Gar­den of Eng­land. As you may know we’re both orig­i­nally from the West Coun­try, both from sim­i­lar back­grounds and both ra­dio pre­sen­ters. Steve’s a pretty good guy; the fact that he puts jam on his scones be­fore the cream is his one ma­jor char­ac­ter flaw I’m forced to over­look.

We’ve been fail­ing mis­er­ably to meet for a beer and in a clas­sic piece of male plan­ning, rather than avail­ing our­selves of a lo­cal Ken­tish hostelry, when we re­alised that we were stay­ing a few miles apart in Corn­wall, some 320 miles from home, a meet up be­came in­evitable.

In­evitable, but al­most scup­pered by the in­cred­i­ble vol­ume of hol­i­day­mak­ers that de­scended on the county this sum­mer.

Our orig­i­nal ren­dezvous, the gor­geous Goldol­phin Arms over­look­ing St Michael’s Mount, had to be aban­doned with Steve re­treat­ing to his home vil­lage of Mouse­hole, where we joined him a lit­tle later.

Our meeting point was a poignant one, Pen­lee Lifeboat sta­tion, perched high on the cliff over­look­ing Mounts Bay. Closed now, the build­ing and small gar­den serve as a memo­rial to the brav­ery of coxswain Trevelyan Richards and his crew, who were all lost in 1981 try­ing to save crew and pas­sen­gers of the Union Star.

Steve, how­ever, re­veals an­other side to this iconic lo­ca­tion when he tells me that as a young­ster he and his friends would pad­dle out to the point and on greased-up wooden boards would surf down the slip­way straight into the wa­ter.

A short walk away was the Old Coast­guard with amaz­ing views out across the bay, cou­pled with craft beers and ciders to im­bibe. In fact the place is a mi­cro­cosm of the changes that have hap­pened to the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try as a whole over the last 10-15 years.

As Steve com­mented: “This place was a spit and saw­dust boozer when I was grow­ing up.” Now a haven for lo­cally pro­duced food and drink, it’s tan­gi­ble ev­i­dence of how our tastes and ex­pec­ta­tions have changed. A steep de­scent down the steps at the end of the pub’s gar­den saw us on a path at the wa­ter’s edge pass­ing ‘The Gap’ where Steve and his ex­tended fam­ily would gather for Sun­day af­ter­noons, com­plete with Tup­per­ware, deck chairs and Ther­mos flasks.

Fur­ther out the land­scape is dom­i­nated by Mouse­hole Is­land, an un­usual rock for­ma­tion that looks un­can­nily like a de­stroyer at anchor. It’s so con­vinc­ing that an air­craft from the Luft­waffe mis­tak­enly bombed it end to end dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

Then it’s on into the har­bour and the back streets to see the old­est house in the vil­lage. Here Squire Jenkyn Keig­win was killed by a can­non­ball de­fend­ing his prop­erty against a Span­ish raid that saw the rest of the vil­lage and nearby New­lyn set aflame.

The Span­ish were at­tacked by mili­tia led by Fran­cis Goldol­phin, af­ter whom our abortive orig­i­nal meeting place in Marazion was named. Lovely cir­cu­lar­ity, all thanks to traf­fic con­ges­tion and typ­i­cal blokey plan­ning ahead.­dio


Andy Gar­land

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