Wokmania, Derby, UK

Back in 2008, I was on a tour of Germany and England. The primary lure of the trip was the Heavy metal festivals Wacken Open Air and Bloodstock UK, but I got to spend a lot of time being a goofy-ass Canadian tourist with a couple high school buddies over the course of three weeks.

This is Bloodstock

This is Bloodstock

Bloodstock UK is located just outside of the city of Derby, which is pretty much smack in England’s soft, gooey center. We’d met a couple guys in Germany who lived there, so we decided to go out with them for a night on the town before hitting up the festival. We started boozing in the afternoon which carried on well into the edge of night as we bounced from pub to bar to club and back again before landing in our hostel, memories hazy feeling Eh-Oh-Kay.

At one point in the night, we were stumbling around Cheapside and Friar Gate in the city’s center. On one corner was a church, one of those towering motherfuckers what’s been there for centuries. It was around 9:00pm on a Thursday night in August. Now, being Canadian heavy metal nerds, my mates and I love ancient shit. I ask if we can check out it. Jon, our local guide told us “No mate, it’s not that cool,” but we ignored him and wandered over there anyways. Without thinking, I pulled open the massive iron-framed door.

People were inside the church. They are sitting at booths and table and corralled around lamps that shimmer with heat waves. The smell hits us. Jon fills us in.

“This church was built in the 1600’s. A few years ago it was bought and turned into a Chinese buffet. It’s called ‘Wokmania’.”

This is Wokmania

This is Wokmania

We were dumbstruck. Angry. Shocked. Even a little bit frightened. I wanted to grab a pair of chopsticks, pluck out the manager’s eyes and use them for garnish in a bowl of won-ton soup. It was like someone had squatted down and dropped a big, steaming coiler inside such a beautiful piece of history. The place wasn’t even nice. I seethed. Then we remembered.

We hadn’t eaten dinner yet.

A few minutes later, I caught myself saying “This is so fucked up! This is so wrong, on so many – Oooo! Ginger beef!”

Sometimes you just gotta roll with cultural discordance.


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