892. Sat 21/12/19: The Black Horse, Luton

Beer: Tring Colley’s Dog 5.5%

Pre-Town v Swansea. Pub reasonably full but me brother and Andy W and Steve H have the table at the front. On stage is the painted backdrop of the annual one-off BH panto (last night). Helen was in it this year and invited us via messages on devices… which I didn’t pick up until this morning.

The Black Horse panto is something of an institution in this part of the town, and maybe we should deign to cross the tracks and give it a look. Me brother is losing faith with this (All the pubs) project, rather bemoaning its diary/self-referential style. It’s a pertinent point: the whole subjective/objective argument. Write subjectively and why should anyone care what I think/do/drink? But try and write objectively and what do I know?

It is never the same beer. That’s an essay I should write up anon.

In the meantime, he seems a little keen that I photograph his new beard. It’s nicely done, nicely grey, but what can I do with that pic? Well, it’ll be under consideration for the Dec 2021 calendar if I do one, but it won’t be Christmassy enough. It won’t be eligible for posting on the web blog, if that’s still going, ‘cause it is too personal/referential. It may well get printed up for the scrapbook edition of this blog… this project works for me in some respect because it is multi-faceted; there’s the writing, the blogging, the photography and the scrapbook/moleskine collection.

I suggest that by all means, he ought to change the style of his reports whenever he sees fit. Poetry, morse, braille… whatever floats his boat at the time.

1271d. Sun 15/5/22: The Fighting Cock, Bradford

Beer: Timothy Taylor Landlord 4.3%, Theakston’s Old Peculiar 5.6%

This is not an easy pub to find, located miles from the city centre, we walked past various derelict mills and factories, some frightening looking residential areas, and a considerable amount of wasteland. In any other city these bits of land would be worth considerable money and put to use, but here they’re sadly neglected. The pub doesn’t look much from the outside but inside we are greeted by a couple of large connected bars and a sort of back room area along all of which the lengthy bar stretches. Along said bar are numerous ale pumps and diverse foreign beers. You can immediately see why this pub is a long term CAMRA favourite.

The beer is, of course, delicious. We again stay much longer than is wise, ingratiating ourselves with the local Bradford City fans and pub nutters alike, who all wish us well with our upcoming game at Huddersfield. We leave after many happy hours to the Kashmir where a curry awaits.

1074a. Fri 4/6/21: The Bricklayers Arms, Luton

Beer: Leighton Buzzard Restoration 4.6%

TPK and I coming in to see out an evening we’d started at The Black Horse for a kind of Knockout/Cerberstacks gathering of the tribes.

Notes are scant, but – unlike my memory – they exist. They record what I may have described, in the olden days, as a ‘fat man’ outside the pub. We engage in a little three pint nostalgia and I commend a Wings song to TPK, which is a bit of a one-off, risky thing to do.

1278. Fri 10/6/22: Bar Cafeteria Levante, Jerez de la Frontera

Beer: Alhambra 5.0%

Stansted Airport of a Friday morning is bloody terrible. The Ryanair flight (though Steph had vowed “never again” some years ago) was fine, and their obscure destination policy came up trumps – landing in Jerez, where we’re spending the first three nights of our holiday. Jerez Airport reminded me of Brno Airport – both seem to be dealing with few flights. Brno was by far the coldest airport we’ve ever landed at, Jerez by far the hottest.

By the time we’d got on the train to the city centre, and found our apartment, the temperature had hit 40℃ (that’s 104℉).

We inevitably had an hour or so to kill before we could book in – so found this little bar in Plaza de las Angustias.

It’s lovely here… but not in English mufti. I feel horribly uncomfortable in heavy black jeans and monkey boots, and am longing to changing into my ¾ length cargo shorts and sandals.

We’re in Andalucia, so Cruzcampo man smiles down on us from bar awnings – including Levante’s; they’ve apparently managed to wrestle out of that tie though. The Alhambra is very nice and refreshing and all – but I need to get out of this heat, and these heavy denim slacks.

1132. Sat 2/10/21: The Black Horse, Luton

Beer: Tring Pale Four 4.6%

Filthy day out. During my post-work walk, from Chaul End Social Club to The Black Horse, my black parka (M51 copy) is soaked through. AW and the Harper bros are in on my arrival, my brother in soon after me.

He’s bought a magnetic chess set.

The Pale Four is lovely.

Play magnetic chess. I lose, eventually. Chess in the pub seems a nice idea. It ain’t. Chess and beer just don’t mix.

Pub is nice today. Not too packed. Huddersfield fans, unlike the London Coventry City Supporters Club midweek, haven’t discovered The Black Horse yet.

We’ll be back here, later this evening, to watch Cerberstacks.

858a. Sat 26/10/19: The Wellington, Birmingham

Beer: Black Country Ales Pig on the Wall 4.2%

A quick pint back in the city centre after being yelled out of The Victoria. It’s hot and it’s busy in The Wellington. A little too hot; a little too busy.

My notes are crippled by my rubbish note taking. There are a few more Luton Town fans in. Some Charlton supporters too. Loads of beer here – obviously a decent real ale boozer, but not having a place to sit down has, in the last few years, become a big issue and impacts on my boozer enjoyment. 

One pint is probably enough. We don’t have time for another anyway, not on the cheap tickets we’ve bought back to Rugby. I can’t say I really enjoyed The Wellington too much, but will certainly give it another go next time I’m up and looking for an ‘after work’ pint.

1228. Fri 4/2/22: The Bricklayers Arms, Luton

Beer:    Slaters Premium Best Bitter 4.4%

Man U v Middlesbrough, in the Cup, on the telly, in the front bar. Brad’s holding court in the back.

We sit and take a passing interest in the match and play on AJK’s rubbish magnetic chess board. I win. Hoorah.

Man U score while we’re in the middle of the game. Middlesbrough equalise. There’s more than a faint suspicion of offside about it – there’s a very vocal Man U fan in the room bemoaning that it’s been given. His protestation makes the underdogs’ goal even better.

Middlesbrough on the Bobbers bus? It’s viable.

Julian Cope – the good, the bad and the ugly: love every eccentric manifestation (except, at the time, “Skeleton”, but it’s fine retrospectively).

Middlesbrough win on penalties. Fantastic. We hope our pal Robert is at Old Trafford and having a ball.

239. Fri 17/11/17: U Pinkasů, Můstek, Prague

Beer: Pilsner Urquell 4.4%

We’ve had quite a few in Karlin and Žižkov, so our going back into town to U Pinkasů seems a bit much. We’d undoubtedly have put off eating and been tempted back to Wenceslas Square by the sausage and fried cheese stands… that’ll be it. They’re excellent. They’ve ripped us off royally in the past but, keep your wits about you, the food is cheap and lovely.

U Pinkasů is alright. The quality of handwriting in my notebook suggests it was indeed a pub too far. Even so, they report that we went straight down to the basement bar – the televisions in which are screening pop videos. My brother points out that Blondie are on. It wasn’t Blondie, it was Rod Stewart.

We’re very drunk. We load my brother back onto a no.9 tram to Žižkov, and head back to our apartment by the museum.

All my Pinkasů pics for this visit are woefully underexposed – except for one, which is woefully out of focus.

1103. Sat 7/8/21: The Black Horse, Luton

Beer: Tring Pale Four 4.6%

First match of the season (LT v Peterborough) and I’ve arrived at the Horse rather too early. In fact, it seems, I’m just about the first customer in… it’s around ten past one.

Our preferred tables, up on the sunlit stage area at the back are nominally free – and I consider grabbing one of them. Unfortunately the only other person in the area is the young son of the barlady. My reckoning is that going over to sit quite close to him, in an otherwise empty pub, would seem more than a little odd.

I give that up as a bad idea, and settle into preferred table two – the one close to window, by the bar and doorway.

The pub gets progressively busier, but I’m the only one of “our lot” to have arrived by around twenty past. I begin to doubt whether I can hold onto the table. I’m on my own, securing a table for at least a half dozen – if anyone asks if seats are free would/should/could I tell them no? It’s a dilemma…

Thankfully the others arrive by about half past, so that’s all good . It’s the first time we’ve all been back here for a pre-match meet up since February last year, ‘cause of the pandemic (and football being played to empty grounds) and all, but everything slots into place. It’s like we’ve never been away…

Concern this afternoon is: maybe opening the season to a newly promoted side isn’t the easiest of starts – but no one really cares – it’s just lovely to have everyone, and the football, back again.

641h. Mon 4/2/19: Britons Protection, Manchester

Beer: Old Moor Porter 4.4%

It’s quiet. This is a quiet pub. All the better for it. I settle for some reading in the front part of the pub, in a small nook. Or snug. It might be a snug.

The volume increases somewhat when a blonde lady comes in. She’s talking to the barman about Ed Sheeran. She’s joined by two noisier blokes. A couple of whiskey drinkers; one playing the role of old master, advising the other, more a novice. 

I saunter into the Jack Daniels room round the back, past a bloke with his head in his hands. All’s well again, until I’m joined by a Mancunian couple and a Polish bloke. The Manc couple are giving the Pole advice and suggesting he may be arrested if he’s caught driving with six points on his licence. 

The distraction pushes me towards examine the Jack Daniels room. It’s very odd. There are racks of Jack Daniels bottles and Jack Daniels quotes. Some wag(s) has gone through, removing the ‘J’s and the ‘D’s, leaving ‘ack  aniels’.

A bloke outside farts. It might be the guy who’d had his head in his hands. He starts talking to the three people in the Jack Daniels room. He’s out of sight, but his accent, his slur and his sibilant ‘s’ sounds make him sound exactly like a late era Mark E Smith. He describes himself as a Union guy and Brexiteer, then asks the Pole what he does for a living.