Dulltown and I have parted company: as reported in an earlier post, my employers finally noticed that I was still there, depleting their freelance budget, several weeks after my contract expired, and I was cast back into the hurly-burly of hand-to-mouth freelance existence, having once more to collect cigarette butts from the pavement and steal the cats’ food.
Leaving Dulltown left quite a gap in my life for a while: how was I to continue this series of blog posts with no dull lunchtime activities to write about? How would I cope without the creative outlet of making hurtful and exaggerated aspersions about a place that could not defend itself?
But Fate lent a hand: I was lucky enough to get booked for a series of holiday-cover days sub-editing for another magazine publisher, and to my great joy my new role is in another town that, arguably, could be described by cynics as a wee bit dull.
Dulltowns One and Two are only 12 miles apart as the crow flies, but they are very different: Dulltown One was kind of tired, in the manner of someone who’s been out on the piss for three nights in a row and just wants to curl up in a pallid, unfragrant ball on the floor and sleep it off; Dulltown Two is tired as well, but in a pleasantly somnolent way, rather like someone who’s had a large and satisfying Sunday lunch and has nodded off in a comfy armchair in front of the telly.
In fact, Dulltown Two is really rather nice. It’s a sleepy old market town where nothing much happens until market day comes round again on a Friday. The Olympic cycling road race came through Dulltown Two the other week and I don’t suppose the town had seen such excitement since the stage coaches started coming through on their way to London in the 18th century.
For my first lunchtime outing I went to seek out a cup of coffee in the sun and found myself sipping cappuccino outside a little independent coffee shop in a charming flower-bedecked courtyard, surrounded by higgledy-piggledy timbered buildings that I believe date from the 1700s. My fellow diners were of the office worker, tourist and yummy mummy variety, partaking of rocket and cherry tomato salads and home-made quiche and talking intelligently about workplace stress and where little Tarquin was going to university.
In contrast, going out for a beverage in Dulltown One involved sitting on a pavement on the main road, watching trucks hurtle past and drinking something warm out of a mug, which tasted a bit like – but not enough like – coffee, watching vacant-looking locals, who were either skinnily malnourished or could do with losing a few pounds, enjoying their kebabs and sausage sandwiches and talking about football.
Yes, Dulltown Two and I have far more of a meeting of minds than Dulltown One and I ever did, and I look forward to reporting back on how it performs in the Things to do at Lunchtime department.