Fish(ing) In(n) Northampton
There seems a good chance that I may be able to arrange a daily lift between here and Nottingham so, with a bit of luck, this may be the last week that I spend my nights in this place. I just happened to have my webcam in my bag so I’m able to record for posterity, room 4, the room I’ve occupied on-and-off for the past 6 weeks. Being a rather cheap, crappy webcam, the resolution isn’t great and it doesn’t do justice to the tackiness of the place. But you should get some idea of what it's like.
From the outside, the Fish Inn is a very typical British pub, probably at least 100 years old, quite attractive in appearance. The bar area is very typical too and it has a warm friendly atmosphere and is popular with the locals who congregate here for a few hours after work. Once you pass through the door that goes to the bedrooms, there's a dramatic change in feeling.
A dark Victorian staircase climbs up one floor in a gloom that is created by threadbare, red-speckled carpets and bad lighting. The place smells of stale cigarette smoke and a special mouldiness that seems to have been created for establishments such as this. The rooms are all on the first floor but the staircase goes up one more floor to some more rooms that are, I think, occupied by some of the staff members.
Opposite my bedroom is one of two communal bathrooms, both without showers, both with several broken fittings and a standard of cleanliness that leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve learnt to spend as little time as possible in there.
The room has the obligatory kettle with sachets of coffee, tea and sugar and little containers of UHT milk. The thick china cup has no saucer, the light over the basin doesn’t work, the tiny telly has two remote controls both of which don’t work, the bed only has one pillow that is hardly thicker than a folded towel, there’s no bedside lamp and there aren’t enough coat hangers in the tiny cupboard.
Hey, I told you the place is cheap!
There’s a sticker that says ‘Party Crasher’ behind the desk – makes you wonder where it spent a previous life. The window overlooks Fish Street which is a small offshoot from Abington Street, the main shopping street that leads down from Market Square. I’m one minute’s walk from the entrance to Grosvenor Shopping Mall that gives me a covered five-minute walk to the bus station. Downstairs is a great little Italian café that serves good coffee and tasty pastries and Italian fare such as bruschetta. Opposite, is an O’Brien’s sandwich shop and a William Hill betting shop.
Being in the centre of town and being a pub, you’d expect the place to be very noisy but, on the whole, it tends to be rather quiet. Weekends are probably bad but I’ve only spent one Friday here so I haven’t had to face that prospect. Occasionally, I’ll hear the sharp trills of plastered bimbettes and loud, aggressive expletives coming from groups of male low-lifers. I even got to hear (and see from behind my curtains) a man threatening to carve up the face of a woman sitting in a car. And last week, on one of the rare occasions when I’d fallen asleep before 1am, I was awoken by very loud hammering right outside my window. I shot out of bed and looked out of the window to be faced by a man looking straight at me. It wasn’t an erotic fantasy but a council worker hanging up Christmas lights. Those were isolated incidents so I can’t complain about a lack of peace and quiet.
But the manager (owner?) and staff are friendly and helpful which goes a long way towards making me feel relatively at home when here. Not at home enough, however, to stop me from having a spring in my step on a Friday evening as I approach my trendy little loft apartment in one of Nottingham’s converted lace factories.