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Sunday, December 04, 2005

As it turns out, neither Dave nor Nick is a dangerous lunatic. I know, I couldn't believe it either, but it's true. Although obviously you shouldn't judge people on the first meeting, so I'm not committing myself to that point of view.

But I successfully made it up to the north Norfolk coast yesterday, for the kind of gathering rarely seen outside of an episode of Parkinson. Knowing that Dave won't tolerate lateness, and combining that with the fact that Mapquest had told me the drive would take 3 hours, and that we'd arranged to meet at 1pm, I was naturally still eating my breakfast at 10am. But as luck would have it, Mapquest were lying, and I made it to Sheringham at 12:20pm, giving me just enough time to admire the seafront in the rain, before arriving at Dave's, surveying the spacious free car park next to his house, and parking in front of his garage.

Dave was naturally pleased to see me arrive ten minutes early, having already planned today's blog post around the certainty of me being late, but he let me in anyway, and within minutes Nick arrived, having phoned ahead to check which house it was. There's only actually one house in the whole street, and he was standing right outside it, but it pays to be sure. Nick, it turns out, is far taller than he appeared on Richard & Judy, which either demonstrates the misleading nature of television, or means he's had a growth spurt since May.

Introductions over, and Christmas cards exchanged, we headed to Dave's (no relation) Fish Bar for lunch, which gave Dave (the first one - are you following this?) a chance to tell us of his aspirations to move to a luxury pad in the yuppiest part of town. Aspirations which basically hinge on Tesco buying him a four bedroom house with two en suites and a hot tub. Which isn't quite as deluded as it sounds. Well, not the way Dave tells it. Although he did inform me that his church can't afford bells in the bell tower, so they play a tape-recording through loud speakers instead. It's a dead ringer apparently (and no, I'm not ashamed of that pun). Although I'm still not entirely sure he wasn't winding me up there, in the hope that I'd mention it on my blog and look a complete fool. Frankly I wouldn't trust a word that man says.

Anyhoo, despite discovering that neither of my hosts regard themselves as locals, and that Nick really ought to sound like Noddy Holder, we managed to find the Fish Bar, where Nick ordered scampi (giving me a chance to tell the story of the time my Dad was rushed to hospital in an ambulance after eating the little critters), and Dave ordered something which didn't appear to be on anyone else's menu. I then gave the pair an informative lecture on why I feel the need to write about rubbish TV, before testing Dave on his memory of February 23rd. Nick also stated that although he has a flat on Hampstead Heath, and a peacock feather on his door, we're not to infer anything from that.

Leaving the fish bar behind us, Dave attempted to show me the Beeston Bump (which isn't a disco dance), before leading us on a stroll along the seafront. Which would have been more pleasant had it not been pouring with rain. And let's face it, we can't all afford an £11 jacket from Primark. But it gave Nick a chance to tell us about his attempts to break into television by uniting the worlds of comedy and physical deformity, while Dave detailed his plans for a comic novel about a cricket-loving artist with a Russian stalker. Which sounds a bit far-fetched to me. The man needs to get a grip on reality.

Back at Dave's we examined the mini art gallery on his living room wall, before being shown the nerve-centre from which a year's worth of blog posts have sprung (a blue plaque is surely only a matter of time), and witnessing his journey from watercolours to acrylic. I couldn't possibly comment on the quality of Dave's artwork for fear of making him unbearably conceited, but you know you're doing something right when both your guests think your painting of a Formula 1 car is actually a photo.

We retired to the drawing room (I'm not apologising for that pun either) for afternoon tea (Earl Gray for them, Ty-phoo for me), where I attempted to persuade Dave to get a chihuahua. Sadly he refused, feeling that it might detract from his image as a red-blooded heterosexual man about town. It's an image I share myself (there's nothing cissy about owning a Persian cat called Chloe), so I could understand Dave's fear of being tarred (and feathered) with the gay brush. Although he has written a book called 'Fruit From the Blossom', which doesn't help.

Nick eventually left to go to a Thanksgiving dinner (presumably to give thanks that he's not American), and after eating chocolate biscuits and doing my best to leave crumbs all over Dave's furniture, I finally departed at 5:15pm and made my way home (via Tescos, who sadly refused to buy me a house). It may have been my first visit to Sheringham, but I'm not too proud to admit that even as I turned my back on the north Norfolk coast, a small part of me remained forever there in that town.

It was my Christmas card from Dave. But he says he'll send it on to me.