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Who is this barrel-bellied tw*t anyway?

Worcester News article, September 2nd

Worcester News article, September 2nd

It may or may not have occurred to you that I’ve been uncharacteristically schtumm about this (above) since it appeared in the Worcester News a week ago, the gist of it being, for those that haven’t seen it: a) fat git from Zimbabwe takes it on himself to visit a pub or two; b) gets his arse in his hand because folk aren’t fawning at his feet at a moment’s notice; and c) decides to slag-off every pub in Worcester but for three – the Bell In St Johns (so far so good, but here’s where it descends into farce) the Dragon, and the Plough, both headed by the same people of course, and both of which have banned me, scarcely a friendly act, for some paltry reason that’s quite beyond me.  Now, we’re all entitled to our opinions, and let’s face it, when it comes to pubs I’m perhaps the teensiest bit more opinionated than most, but there’s a number of disquieting issues this particular Worcester News article throws up, and in the absence of anybody else doing so, I’d like to chuck-in my two penn’orth for what it’s worth.  One: what’s the matter with Worcester’s 80-odd publicans that, so far as I can see, don’t appear to give a toss that they and their pubs have been labelled as lazy and unwelcoming by someone that purports to have visited each and every single one of you (a fact that I doubt, personally).  If it was me and my pub he was having a go at, I’d have a right go back, don’t you fret, and if he came back in I’d have him slung out on his ear’ole.  Two: what’s the matter with the drinking population of Worcester that we all sit back and allow a gobby foreigner to come in and criticise 95% of our pubs without putting up at least some kind of spirited defence?  Three:  why, oh why, is the Worcester News giving house room (and rather a lot of it) to this negativistic motor-mouth whose taste in pubs is, with the exception of the Bell, diametrically opposed to most other locals’ whose views are probably more intelligent, more considered and given the benefit of long-term experience, more relevant?  Surely ‘your’ Worcester News would be better off serving the City’s hard-pressed publicans by telling 53-year old Andy Hall Esq where to get off and that if he doesn’t like it, to bugger off home?  Four: how can anyone have the brass neck to have his picture splashed about the paper for criticising what I consider to be a key feature of what’s his adopted home?  So far as I’m concerned, anyone not from ‘round yur’ (as the local lingo has it) that doesn’t like it should do the decent thing and find somewhere more to their liking. Five:  aside from out-and-out publicity-seeking, what can he hope to gain from going public on this?  A better move might have been to have had a quiet word with the landlord.  Six: how can someone get it so spectacularly wrong?  After all, boss of the group behind the Plough and the Dragon – one Richard Appleton Esq – not only gives me, and 99% of everyone else I speak to on the subject, the distinct impression of going out of his way to be grievously obnoxious, but also to actively cultivate the reputation as the rudest landlord in Worcester and, come to that, the rest of the world bar none. Friendly?  ‘Avin’ a larf enchya?  Seven: who wears a hat indoors?  In my day that would’ve been considered ill-mannered and oafish.  And eight: who is that barrel-bellied tw*t anyway that has before him a book about Worcestershire pubs co-authored by a vicar, and whose lofty ambition, it seems, is to join the local coven of CAMRA, the leading light of which was once ‘the other half‘ to the other director of the group behind two of the three pubs he goes out of his way to hold up as shining pinnacles of friendliness and dogged servants to his inflated egotistical whims?  Personally, I think that Andy Hall, the Plough and the Dragon are made for each other. Tell you what, sunshine… you stick to the Plough and the Dragon; I’ll stick to the others that’d get my vote anyway, and maybe, just maybe, one day we can continue this conversation in the only common ground we would appear to share: the Bell.  But don’t hold your breath, as they say.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in About

 

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CoppertopslowPopped into the Coppertops the other day to see what’s going on. Gaffer John Franklin tells me that he’s likely going to be looking for another job as it’s been sold to Enterprise Inns in cahoots with a builder, that it closes after Christmas, and the land – and there’s an awful lot of it – given over for housing. Shame, as he says that Saturday night at the Coppertops – in the 70s a must-have experience given the star-name do’s it played host to – had been a cracker, showing that there’s still demand for a pub of some sorts in the vicinity. There’s the teensy-weensiest glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel though – the possibility (albeit an almighty slim one) that ‘the builder’ could be sweet-talked into providing a much smaller pub fronting whatever development he has in mind. With Dines Green now a desert for watering-holes and far-off St Johns the next port-of-call, if ever there was a case for the City Council, local representatives, community groups, and Robin Walker Esq., to get involved and show that there’s a spark of concern about what’s happening in the area – and come to that, Worcester as a whole – this is surely it, right?

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in About

 

Dear CAMRA, this is Planet Earth. Come and visit us some time

CAMRA15Just wondering if the people at CAMRA ever visit Planet Earth once in a while? I ask the question as a media tip-off has revealed that the intro to the 2015 Beer Guide – not published until this time next week, but I do have some good contacts – categorically states that (and I quote) ‘…the pub trade is finally booming after years of doom and gloom’.  Booming, no less…. oh aye?  Is that the view of the recently-departed gaffers of the Lakes or the Cavalier, or the Coppertops, due to close at Christmas? Or those of the 30-odd pubs calling ‘time’ for the last time every week? Or, come that, anybody else with half a brain-cell to see what’s actually going on – with the singular exception of Tim Martin, boss of Wetherspoons who, I gather uses a Securicor van to get around these days? All along I’ve said that they should make ME the editor of the once vaguely-reliable beer guide.  Then again, I’ve said the same thing about being Ayatollah of England.  In both cases I’d make some changes, I can tell you. Every single one of them for the better.  You see…

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2014 in About

 

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And the lesson for today is…

Mats2

Only one thing prevents me from setting up a Best Worcester Pubs competition – as you’ll see!

Breaking news…  I see the Regional champions in the Great British Pub Awards 2014 have just been revealed and Worcester comes…  bloody nowhere!  This despite categories for Best Cask Beer Pub, Best Cider Pub/Bar, Best Wine Pub, Best Spirits Pub/Bar, Best Bar Team, Best Cellar, Best Partnership Pub (formerly Best Tenanted/Leased pub), Best Managed Pub, Best Freehouse, Best Community Pub, Best Turnaround Pub, Best Newcomer, Best Food Pub, Best Sports Pub, Best Entertainment Pub, Best Cider Pub and Best Family Pub.  In fact, the entire county is represented among the winners only once – and that for the consolation – some might even call it booby – prize of Best Loos (and goes to the Plough Inn, Far Forest, Kidderminster).  Now, the fact that the West Midlands is lumped in with Wales – never exactly a front-runner for overall quality that inevitably has to include what I used to call ‘The Friendly Factor’ in my earlier pub guides – makes it an even more disappointing showing and makes me wonder just how much first-hand research has gone into the subject by the likes of judges David Hancock, editor of the Alastair Sawday’s Pubs & Inns Guide; Alastair Gilmour, editor of pub magazine Cheers North East, pub guide inspector and Yorkshire Post columnist Amanda Wragg, industry journalist Phil Mellows and Rob Willock, editor of the Publican’s Morning Advertiser that also organised the awards. I tell you, I’m that choked we came nowhere when we can all name several pubs that could – hellfire, should – have made a reckoning here, I’m of a mind to set up a similar event of my own and that’d get ‘em talking alright!  It might even get some of Worcester’s own landlords off their arses and get their act together… but then again, it probably won’t. I make the comment as just two months ago I again (ie the third time) circulated all the City’s publicans with a request for information about their pubs for entry in the free Worcester Pubs website with the added offer of a free monthly newspaper centred specifically on the City and its rich heritage of pubs and an awards scheme – also free – just like the one announced this very day. Result? Three responses. There’s a lesson to be learned here, I’m thinking…

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2014 in About

 

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‘Umble I ain’t. But…

 

Jim McKeever at the Winning Post:  did I peg him wrong?

Jim McKeever at the Winning Post: did I peg him wrong?

‘Umble I ain’t. Humility and me don’t go, and contrite doesn’t exist in my dictionary. In fact, there’s a gap between ‘contentious’ and ‘contrary’ (it’s a very cheap dictionary!). So, if I make a statement – by gob, in print or online – I stick with it, even if it means me being the only one in-step, with the rest of the world out of step, and sod the consequences. The only exception to this rule is when someone can prove to me – irrefutably, categorically and beyond all reasonable shadow of a doubt – that I may, just may mind, have got my facts the teensiest bit around me ear’oles, and even then I put up a spirited defence right up to the point that I’ve got nowhere else to go but to shrug my shoulders and cave-in gracefully. Just such a case occurred yesterday. Now, for some weeks I’ve been hearing that Jim McKeever at the Winning Post (pictured) has let it be known that he was keen to set the record straight over something I wrote in the book and would I call in, please? I didn’t, on account of the fact that I can start a punch-up when I’m the only one in the room, so imagining the likely impact of a face-off with someone to whom I wasn’t particularly kind (see page 146) I chickened-out – as I say, until yesterday. I didn’t let on who I was at first – though he knew all along and the conversation went along the lines of: “…are you the one who wrote that book?”. “Er…what book?”. “The pubs book”. “Um… (mumble, mumble) but I know the fella who did, lovely man” till Kevin who’d been sat at the bar since noon – it was now about 5pm – ups and gives it all away. “Bob! Your book. Wow…!”. Caught like a rabbit in a trap. So which bit was JMcK going to haul me over the coals over (shocking grammar Bob, C-minus)? Was it my rant about the de-merits of changing the name of the Feathers to the Cap’n’Gown, ditto the Pope Iron to the Winning Post? Nope. Was it my comment about calling all cider-drinkers ‘p*ss-heads’ and banning them all en masse? Nope. What about the bit where I comment on some perceived shortage of welcome from behind the bar? No, not that either, surprisingly. The record he wanted setting straight is that I referred to him as a ‘horse-racing fanatic’ when actually he’s not. To my credit, I believe I could be forgiven for dropping that particular hooey: the place is awash with ‘oss memorabilia and though I didn’t look too closely, the book-case appeared to be rammed with books on sporty folk like Gordon Richards and two characters with the unlikely names of Jonjo O’Neill and Lester Piggott that have got to be fictional ‘cos no-one’s actually called that are they? Well, are they? So, while this doesn’t come with an apology ‘cos that’s another word not in my dictionary, here’s the gen: Jim is not a horse-racing fanatic, right? That was his brother Joseph, in whose memory the Winning Post – another ‘oss-racing reference – has been fitted-out. There now. Conscience cleared and wrongs righted. Such a big-hearted gesture, and as tributes go, do they come any greater? Well, actually, yes they do – or so it appears. While there yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice four beers new to me: Moore, KP, Masons and Tully all from the Winning Post Brewery, sited over the road and produced exclusively by former Canon Royal arch-brewer Jim Wonders for the Winning Post (and I noticed one day last week, the Swan, scarcely a hop, skip and a jump away in Barbourne). Seems they were all named in recognition of ex- (or in one case, current) ‘Post’ regulars: Moore in memory of ‘Tic-Tac Tommy’ Moore; KP premium mild after Ken Porter; Masons after John Mason ever-immaculate 80, nearly 90-something who, if you can’t see him you’ll almost certainly hear him when he’s there; and Tully after football-fiend Kevin Tully, aka ‘Doughnut’ who came by his nickname while working at the Foregate Steet patisserie. ‘Tis a heart-warming tale that a) made me wonder if I haven’t pegged him wrong all these years, and b) came within a whisker of making me feel very ‘umble – but not quite, as ‘umble I ain’t. Which is where we came in. More on the FB Group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/worcesterpubsthenandnow

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2014 in About

 

Plus ça change…

WHI see from today’s Worcester News a punch-up outside the Hand in Glove (formerly White Hart and Shamus O’Donnell’s) resulted in a man being injured. So what’s new…? This from ‘Worcester Herald’ 1844

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in About

 

How many ways to say Brahms and Liszt? ‘Undredsanbloodyundredsh…

How many ways to say Brahms and Liszt?. ‘Undredsanbloodyundredsh. Let’s face it, you can be drunk as a lord, a rat, or a skunk; you can be three or even four sheets to the wind; you can be off your arse, your face, your tits; out of your head, your tree, your skull; shit-faced; likened to a fart or a parrot; pie-eyed, bevvied, bladdered, blitzed, blotto, bollocksed, boozed-up, hammered, lampfaced, legless, paralytic, plastered, rat-arsed, pickled, puggled, sloshed, tanked-up, tight (as a tic or otherwise), tiddly, tipsy, well-oiled, in your cups, or just plain old Anglo Saxon ‘pissed’ – which is the word I was looking for in the first place and frankly does the job every bit as well as any other coined before or since. Nor do I doubt you can chuck in a few more choice bons mots of your own. That said, this – from ‘Worcester Herald’ October 1852 – takes some beating. Can’t help but feel the unnamed court reporter was somewhat discombobulated, blootered, blathered, bozo’d and/or trollied himself, right?

Worcester Herald, October 1852 – and  case of some fine reporting!

Worcester Herald, October 1852 – and case of some fine reporting!

 

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in About

 
 
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