THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5 were no klieg lights, no big podiums or party seals. Just a party leader and Max Madden, the PR man, wading through papers and answering questions without benefit of a decent working microphone. You know how American reporters yell from the floor so as to wake up the dead? Reporters at this conference spoke so softly half the session was taken up with other reporters around the room trying to get a repeat on what question had been asked. The reporters look about like they do here. The ones for the big papers who think they’re inscribing on stone tablets were well-dressed, harried and bore the mark of the ulcer. The regional reporters dressed more casually, but seemed eager to prove something. The renegades were distinguished by overalls and laughter at impertinent moments. After the conference I adjourned to the bar lounge, where a woman who served on the council of a medium-sized city asked if I were a reporter because “she could smell ’em.” I said something terribly witty about English bathing habits, then sat at a table watching journalists do what they do best, drink and brag. I was joined by a 50-ish delegate from Glasgow, Scotland, who began explaining various party intricacies to me. After a while, he motioned over a well-dressed, gray-templed couple who turned out to be Fred and Elizabeth Peart of London and the Lake District. Fred had been minister of agriculture under the rently , an MP and also sits in the House of Lords, having been made a peer,on account of all his good deeds. Peart, as agriculture minister, had not held the easiest of jobs, because British agriculture is, under the French-German stranglehold on the Common Market, as bad or worse off than American agriculture. This did not appear to have left any lasting bitterness with either Fred or Elizabeth, however, who seemed right out of Masterpiece Theater. We talked more, and they offered to share a round of sandwiches with me. I told Mrs. Peart, who had a strong interest in America, about Jim Hightower’s populist campaign and said she ought to read All the King’s Men. By that time I realized I had drunk four pints of English beer, so I made a gracious exit, promised to see everyone again, and, on my way out of the Imperial Hotel, found there was another bar filled with even more people, most of whom I recognized from the press conference. So I had another pint. Then it was definitely time to return to my Bed & Breakfast. But I was starving. For the next hour I scoured the backstreets of Blackpool in search of anything, preferably a Chinese Take-Away, that served food. I was becoming desperate, not to say lost. Through the munificence of That Which Protects Drunks and Children, at last I found myself in front of a late hours cafe. Inside were other revelers of all ages and descriptions. I had a plate of eggs and chips and chippolata sausages,
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