Not singing Sailing at Chesterfield

The crooked church spire in Chesterfield is something to behold. Not only is it twisted around, it’s also leaning off true. How it’s defying gravity, I don’t know. I’m sure there’s plenty of religious non-thinkers who claim it proves the existence of god. To my way of thinking, it proves that just because a job’s done badly, does not mean it won’t work.

Sleazy’s grandfather, who was the mayor of Chesterfield at one point, had only one joke. That joke was why the spire is twisted. It seems that a virgin once arrived at the church to get married. The church hadn’t seen one before, and the spire twisted around to get a look at her. It is said that the next time a virgin gets married in Chesterfield, the spire will twist back to normal.

While clearly very funny and an interesting view of Chesterfield morals, I actually prefer one of the actual possible reasons for why the spire is the way it is. There are a few, but this one makes most sense to me.

When the spire was built in around 1362, most of the master builders in the area had died from Black Death so, the spire was constructed by builders who were not of the highest calibre. One thing they didn’t know was that the timbers needed soaking in order for them to remain true when a few tons of lead were added to the skeleton.

I’m sure everyone in the town were in awe of their new, beautiful spire when it was completed. I can only imagine how they felt when it started twisting out of shape. I like to think of it happening, suddenly and slowly while everyone stood watching. How brilliant would that have been?

The reason I’m writing about the crooked spire is because I saw it today. In fact, along with Nicktor, Bill from the Midlands and Sleazy, I posed for a selfie in front of it.

I should mention that Dawn was less than complimentary about the above photo.

After taking this photograph, we then went in search of the Rectory, a pub that Nicktor had booked for our lunch ahead of the Chesterfield v Aldershot game. Just to prove how much he loves me, Nicktor worked tirelessly to find the Rectory. There are far too many Wetherspoons in Chesterfield, and he knows how I feel about them. He hunted high and low and found the Rectory.

Sadly, it proved a little harder in real life. In fact, we went in the complete opposite direction. The Rectory was about 100 feet in front of us, but we decided to go a few miles the other way. Oddly, Nicktor suggested that I help Bill from the Midlands with the directions. Given my complete lack of navigational skills, this was a weird and dangerous choice.

While it was an odd decision, it did, almost afford us the opportunity to visit the Chesterfield Museum. Though that particular joy was denied us as Sleazy was not keen. We eventually turned around, retraced our steps, and found the Rectory exactly where it was supposed to be.

Unfortunately, the Rectory didn’t open until midday, so we popped into a very handy freehouse which was open for a pre-pub drink.

As we left the freehouse and headed back towards the Rectory, we were ambushed by Pete and Simon. They claimed that they were already in the Rectory waiting for us. I said to Simon that this was really clever – being in two places at once – but I don’t think he understood.

In the Rectory, out the back at a big old table, sat Colin, talking to Big Pete. We all grabbed some booze and joined them. Here’s Nicktor explaining why he loves Aldershot so much. Simon and Pete do not look that impressed.

There was a general melee of happy hellos and assorted greetings as if we hadn’t all seen each other in July. Bill from the Midlands was introduced and fitted right in with the general chumminess. We spent a delightful couple of hours drinking and eating before we had to head for the football ground.

We were sat in section N along with the 170 odd travelling fans, all of whom kept up the singing and chanting, generally egging the boys on and outdoing the locals even though there were 100 times as many of them. In fact, the Chesterfield fans were so silent it was like they were watching a tennis match. Maybe it’s a Chesterfield thing. I don’t know. I’ve read that their favourite song is to the tune of Sailing. I guess they were in the doldrums.

On the other hand, I was so impressed with the noise we were making that I recorded a short burst of video to record it for prosperity. I don’t remember Nicktor asking me if I had a program. When I queried him about it, he said they’d all sold out, which just asks more questions than provides answers.

I have to say that I was very happy sitting down. It’s not often I get that luxury at a football game. It also meant I got to chat to Heather, who was sitting next to me.

The game was not that exciting in the first half but definitely went up a couple of notches after the break. Both teams put on the pressure, the play was end to end. It was definitely exciting, and our goalie was forced into a few saves. Fortunately, their incredibly expensive striker wasn’t on the pitch because the manager had fallen out with him, which helped us a great deal.

By the end of the game the score was still 0-0, and we went home with a point. Strangely, there were seven minutes of injury time to play after the 90. There were no signifcant hold ups in the second half, in fact, the whole game was pretty free flowing, so I’m not sure where the seven minutes came from. It felt a bit arbitrary. Apart from that, I thought the officials did an excellent job. It was like they weren’t there.

A draw against Chesterfield was a great result for us and pretty much a fair judgement of the game. The teams seemed very matched even though their positions in the league table would indicate something not so equal.

But there was more than just football on the agenda. Aided by a Chesterfield supporter who Sleazy knows, we went into an excellent little pub just down the road from the ground where away supporters are welcome. Mind you, after a quick glance, I thought the sign above the door said Violent Person which is possibly not who you’d want for a licensee of a pub near a football ground. Except maybe at Millwall.

Violet Pearson clearly knows her job. The beer was excellent, the atmosphere very friendly and the company even more so with lots of load and lovely chat going on. It was nice to see that Heather, who joined us, was included in everything, with people talking to her and making her feel part of the group. It’s a testament to the group, if you ask me. It is, after all, the same group who have made me feel very welcome for over a decade.

After drinking our own weights in beer, we then decided to look for something to eat. Because Colin is doing a dry January, he went out looking for possible food establishments and came back with a list of one. As Caesar would no doubt have said: Erat turca, prope erat, ivimus.

And there followed a raucous meal with much meat and salad which reminded me of the Turkish place we went to in Sweden. There was also a lot of beer and four cans of cider which Nicktor had secretly smuggled in.

At one point, Sleazy complained about the draught coming in through the door, which refused to close completely without a little shove. Big Pete solved this by using my walking stick to push it the finla few inches. After this, we would entreat each person leaving to PLEASE shut the door. It worked really well, and we soon had the entire restaurant helping. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it did feel like it.

Finally, it was time to leave. This coincided with me realising just how pissed I was. For that reason, I’m going to have cut this post off at this point. I don’t actually remember it, you see. Though I did take this photograph in an underpass.

We somehow made it back to the hotel, though we did lose Sleazy a few times who was our guide. But, given I woke up in the hotel bed proves we made it…even if I don’t know how.

By the way, there is a club for twisted spires. It’s called the Association of the Twisted Spires of Europe and is French. Nicktor will probably join it.

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