Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Fish(ing) In(n) Northampton

Fish Inn signThe Fish Inn – my residence from Monday to Thursday while in Northampton. It has about 8 rooms but it’s more of a real-ale pub than a hotel. When I first arrived here, I was the only resident for a few weeks but the place seems to have become more popular of late. The sort of people that stay here are temporary workers such as scaffolders and shop-fitters and, um, me. So, going on that, you have to know that the rooms are cheap, very cheap. I discovered the place on the net by doing a bit of googling before I started work here; the rooms were advertised at £25 per night. On ringing to book myself a room, I told the woman who answered the phone that I’d be here for a few weeks and asked if she’d give me a discount. The price went down to £22.50. Owing to the lengthy referencing procedure, it took another two weeks before I eventually arrived in Northampton. I rang them again the day before I left and a man answered the phone this time. I mentioned that a discount had been offered to me before and asked if it was still available. This time the price went down to £20. At that sort of price, you know that you aren’t going to be living in luxury. So, no breakfast and no bathroom en suite.

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.

the bathroomOpposite 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!

one side of the room
other side of the room

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.

view from the window

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.


Blogger GAMBIT said...

I like the clever use of pun on your title. A nice touch and not over done ! The plaice (place - fish pun) doesnt sount too bad - I have woken up in much worse.

7:46 pm  
Anonymous said...

It's all wrong what you're writing.

11:52 am  

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