There are some beautiful venues in the Georgian town of Royal Leamington Spa. It was so named because Queen Victoria herself liked it a bit when she visited once, so they say. Her statue now graces the bottom of the historic Parade, just opposite the Pound Shop and that discount place.
Today, Leamington's gleaming streets are filled with a cornucopia of delights, including 79 branches of Cafe Nero and many, many pizza outlets. Oh, and a Robert Dyas. I have heard whispers of a Nandos. I sincerely hope I live to see the day.
A bustling town during the day time, Leamington boasts no less than 273 Big Issue sellers and approximately 89,000 accordian players who fill the air with the same three bars of Fur Elise over and over again. At Christmas this changes to Jingle Bells, the strains of which will follow you as you take a leisurely stroll up the Parade past McDonalds, Savers and Tesco Metro.
But it is at night when Royal Leamington Spa comes into its own. On Warwick Street - one of the main thoroughfares of our beautiful town - one can choose from The Glasshouse (a brightly lit and austere room full of empty chairs and sad barstaff), Saint Bar (a lovely vaulted space with a dancefloor, a DJ and more children than a Wacky Warehouse but with the added advantage of lots of underage girls in their underwear), Kokos (it's important to look down a lot in order to avoid the vomit that will inevitably adorn the dancefloor, but do try not to meet anyone's eyes).
For a more upmarket affair, turn onto Regent Street and visit The Sozzled Sausage. Once, many years ago, The Sausage was the busiest pub in Leamington. Luckily the management has had the foresight to rectify this issue and now kindly make sure there are never more than five people in the place at any one time.This allows for a lot of personal space and there is never, ever a queue at the bar.
However, if queues at the bar are your thing - and I'm sure some people actively seek out a place where it can take up to 45 minutes to watch a half wit measure a shot of gin - then hie yourself to The White Horse. With a huge capacity and a lovely large outdoor area, The White Horse is perfect if you need a lesson in learning patience. During 2010, I taught myself how to meditate just by wisely using the time stood at the bar in The White Horse. Other things you can do include counting in binary in your head, learning a language, reciting Joyce's Ulysses out loud or studying quantum mechanics on your smartphone.
Winding your way back home through - particularly on a Friday or Saturday - you can expect to come across several fights (mostly verbal), 12 arguments between people all of whom appear to be named Craig and Tracey, various young ladies sitting on the kerbside outside Halikarnas, one of the finer kebab establishments in the town and, if you're very lucky, you may catch a glimpse of one of Leamington's famous alcoholics.
Sometimes I play a form of bingo while smoking a cigarette at night. I award myself points for every crying girlfriend screaming: "But Wayne, I lovvvvvvvvvvve you.", every manically giggling student, every inexplicably tuneless chav male, every braying pissed posh lady and every boyfriend yelling: "Just fuck offfffff Tracey, you're mental." I got special points for the time I heard someone scream: "I want to die, I want to die, I want to die." over and over again.