The Likely Lads
‘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.