Tuesday, 25 October 2016

ARAPA - Australian "Real Ale" Pub Adventure - Part One ("Pubs 1-5)

Me learning about Australia whilst supping a glass of plane lager
G'day Cobbers, dunno if I mentioned I was flown Business Class to Melbourne for a week?  Oh I did?  Are you sure?

Bad news from a BRAPA point of view of course, but hardly grounds for complaint.  Time to take the kangaroo by the tail and make the best of it beer-wise, imagine a future Aussie Good Beer Guide, and try and get to the best places outside of the weird 6pm-1am working shift!

1.  EMIRATES FLIGHT EK022, Somewhere over Tehran

I'd just hit two goals as my Grimsby Town side beat Southend Utd 4-2 away in a 4th round FA Cup clash, when travel buddy Alanna popped her head over my seat and suggested we try out the Business Class bar.  Perfect time for a celebration!  Two small areas of leather bench seating surrounded a semi circular island bar, reminiscent of some of Edinburgh's finest (well, in the most plastic way possible) as I baulked at the lack of ale on offer and joined Alanna in the most disgusting Mojito cocktail ever made.  "I don't know how to make these" stated our terrifying 6 foot tall Russian beauty barmaid, "I won't be offended if you hate it - I have thick skin".  I lied that it was delicious, as I know Putin reads my blog.  Just as we were about to sit down, an old ginger colonel insisted on kneeling on the entire seat like some schoolboy with ADHD, getting excited by the clouds outside.  He later stole an entire platter of sandwiches off the bar, giggled, and ran back to his seat.  Proof that no matter what "pub" you are in, there's always one tosser.  We resorted to an embarrassing tourist photo session, our Russian friend made me have photos of me working behind the bar, I even had to pour a rich English businesswoman a real life glass of red wine.  She argued I hadn't filled it up enough, and made me go right to the brim!  Alanna suddenly went a bit green, I thought it was my pro-Eurovision rant,  but it turned out she had chest pains and thought she was having a heart attack (not that she's a drama queen or anything!) so in true BRAPA spirit, I was left alone in t'pub.   Next up, I went for a breakfast martini - this time served by the lovely Toma from Lithuania.  She had to raid the breakfast cupboard in search of a marmalade jar, needed to make said drink, and then persuaded me to have a strong measure just cos she wanted to finish off a bottle of gin, or something unconvincingly Eastern European.  I had to take it back to my seat as afternoon tea was being served!

Shit mojito, but don't tell our Russian barmaid that.
Keep topping up that wine!  Note the sandwiches about to be pinched.

2.  COOKIE, Melbourne  

For some reason, I was still buzzing when we arrived at the hotel 11:30pm on Saturday night despite the 14 hrs from Dubai.  It was straight to bed for Alanna, but as encouraged by our taxi driver, it'd be wrong not to see Melbourne on a Saturday night.  Quite a daunting experience, and as I dodged unconscious or puking Japanese girls on benches, a man shouting "walk away!"at a homeless girl (was he in Cast?), and 5 young Aussie lads singing something that sounded vaguely like Waltzing Matilda, I considered that this was a bit like a more welcoming version of Wokingham.  It was a good half hour trek to the pub, allowing for Melbourne's stupid road crossing system, and a bouncer (not the Neighbours dog) asked me if I was meeting friends here or what I was looking for?!  My "I've heard this place serves interesting beers, so I just want a drink, is that allowed?" stunned him into silence and I walked down a darkened staircase into this dimly red lit bar, bouncing with music that sounded very much like Kid Creole and the Coconuts on acid.  I was served by an incredible hipster with handle bar moustache, but he was ultra friendly and gave me so many tasters of 7% overly hopped beers, I almost didn't mind that my pint was 14 Aussie Dollars!  An equally friendly cockney barman had to help me identify exactly what I was drinking (something with carrot in!) and with two young Scotch men farting on my leg at the bar and a selection of 5 different types of beermat, I felt pretty much at home perched at the bar in the reddy gloom.  I was going to enjoy Melbourne.

3.  IRISH TIMES, Melbourne

Sunday evening then, and after a day of top touristing, we were amazed to see that a torrential rainstorm had brought Melbourne to a stand still - EVERYWHERE WAS CLOSED.  Is this a thing in Melbourne on a Sunday?  It was very strange to us.  About my 5th choice on Google Maps, we stumbled in here but got lucky, as food was being served by an Australian Stephen Quinn,  and a few beers were on tap which weren't too boring.  We sat in a raised area and not for the first time this week, I tried to impress on Alanna the difference between a pub and a restaurant i.e. it is ok to go up to the bar, order your drinks and food there, open a tab,and wait.  Besides, service here was tardy to say the least and we'd have been waiting all evening.  Only a group of jokey students behind us seemed to get any proper service, and they were basically idiots.  Cottage pie seemed like the perfect comfort food for me, but the ultra thick layer of mozzarella combined with the richest red wine and guinness style middle was just too rich for any man with jet lag to enjoy.  Ugh.  Alanna felt a bit ill herself, but I (selfishly) made her stay so I could order a pint of each ale and work my way through the bar.  Any guilt feelings were short lived.  An old Irish wastrel kept wandering around as though in search of a seat/friend, but kept returning to the bar for another Guinness soon after.  The pub lacked warmth, and I'd have to say that whilst it did a job and felt 'pubby' to an extent, it was never going to win any awards for pub of the week!

Note the discarded cheesy layer removed from the top of the pie

Pub was busyish, though you wouldn't know.

The beers I tried in order.

Monday dawned bright and sunny if a bit chilly, and after brekkie we hot footed on down to a Cat Cafe where we chilled with some waifs and strays but sadly no ale was available ......

Looking for pigeons

Just do something you boring bastards
It was time for lunch, in a "English themed" pub that had been recommended to us.  I'd bought my deer stalker for the occasion.

4.  SHERLOCK HOLMES, Melbourne

So the miserable old locals didn't appreciate my hat, but I'm British in a British themed pub so fuck 'em was my general attitude, made more vitriolic by having to persuade Alanna that we didn't have to sit in the shoehorned-cattle-restaurant area to eat, and the raised seating by the bar with a shitload of chips (in a hopelessly impractical wicker basket when it comes to gravy pouring) was a far better solution.  Staff were lovely too, the confused man with "pie of the day" concerns, and the homely landlady - plus there were some top Aussie beers on to save me braving the likes of London Pride and Hobgoblin, which I wasn't convinced would taste that good on keg.   But seriously, were the chips supposed to be a starter?  No way you could make inroads into them (well not with my sparrow like jet lagged appetite!).  It was a lovely pub though, one of the gems of the week - pubby, homely, warm, friendly, clean.  So much so, we came back here for dinner on our last day where I did a lot better with a corned beef hash covered in the most ridiculous mustard dressing ever.  You know I normally hate dining in pubs, well the rules are different in ARAPA before you say anything, so there!  On this occasion, we got chatting to a lovely couple from North Berwick who were on an Aussie tour.  At one point, a surfer dude came in and ordered what seemed to be a schooner of "chips" (crisps) and I had to overlook the fact that crisps are crisps and are served from the bag without any pouring required, but who can stay mad with a pub like this?

Elementary my dear Everitt

View to the bar

Sherlock Holmes and Oliver Hardy

Too many chips arrrggghhh.
Monday night had been our first day at work, and knackered on Tuesday morning, we missed breakfast at our new "go to" place, so we had lunch there instead, meaning I could have a beer and review it for ARAPA - hurrah!

5.  Bank on Collins, Melbourne

This place then, was almost perfect for us as breakfast venue - how many poached eggs did I eat over the week?  Is that a Martin Taylor style blog question?   Let's just say good job I bought a huge bag of prunes to even it out!  I say "almost perfect" because the staff were hilariously slow.  Whether it was seating us, serving us (especially drinks) or bringing us the bill, they were comedically woeful.  When we interacted with them, they were personable, funny and warm, so it seemed a strange discrepancy.  One young lad who realised we were regulars complained what a busy morning it was one day when we were the only customers, tending to "ghost" customers at imagined reserved tables, all the while neglecting the real life customers, us - so bizarre.  Ironically, it was on a busy Tuesday lunchtime that we got the best service, and i had an amazing bit of fish n chips with a pint of some mystery Monteith's beer from NZ which the waitress would not be drawn on, despite my "blood out of a stone" efforts.  The place, a former bank as you can guess by the name, drew obvious comparisons with a really clean and ornate Wetherspoons and still had old features, plus an upstairs walkway leading to guest rooms - would be interesting to stay here if I come to Melbs again!  Almost brilliant, they even had their own extra thick beermats, which I stole one as payback for the service.

Inside at the Bank.
So that was the first half of the week, I'll be back for the final 5  'ticks' I managed from Wednesday-Friday.

See you soon ya flamin' galahs.


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

BRAPA - Returning to the South of Sheffield

What felt like my five billionth trip to Sheffield on a Tuesday night in 2016 proved a classic, but didn't start out too comfortably.

Convinced I was coming down with a lurgie on the eve of my trip to Melbourne, I drank this horrific Green Tea & Peach restorative pink thing on the train in one gulp, only to feel like my insides were about to take leave of themselves before we'd even passed Meadow-hell.  The train conductor then charged me a £2.10 excess, though probably not for this reason, so I hid in Sheffield Tap to recover for 5 minutes, ditching the bottle in the process.

I could have walked to Heeley at less than two miles away but I'd bought a PlusBus ticket and didn't want to waste any more money, besides walking past Bramall Lane always makes me come out in a rash.  After traffic jam mayhem, I jumped off the number 25.

Green tiled exterior indicated 'my type of pub'.
922.  White Lion, Heeley, Sheffield

Me and Tom tried to come here in Aug 2015 only to find it closed 1:30pm on a Sunday (we'd already gone in the RED Lion by mistake which seemed awful and we even both thought "is this really a GBG pub?")  So I felt like the White Lion owed me.  Well, walking in through a narrow corridor was a good start, it was like the best of 'Liverpool Heritage' from Saturday had been carried into Tuesday.  I ordered a strange strong white stout called "Roobarb and Custard" which seemed to earn me some respect from barmaid and the two locals "good choice!", but in particular, a dog which started jumping up and clawing me.  "He's nosey, don't mind 'im" I was told, as it edged my bag to one side and bit my arse.  I sat in the front bar and listened to rumours that the dog had been pacified with gin in the water bowl.  Was this true?  Well, it might have explained why, by the time I left, it was slumped disconsolately on the floor sobbing "why doesn't anyone love me?"  Sort of.  It was one of those pubs where you could just feel occupied gazing wide-eyed at the interior, and it's many nooks and crannies (I think a band came in with their equipment to set up a gig but no idea where they actually disappeared to).  But I couldn't help feel the pub lacked a bit of warmth and wholesome charm, something along the Hoyland/Hoylandswaine lines of interaction/pub banter.  Instead, the best I heard was "oooh I've just had a bowl of sweet potato and coconut soup".  "Oooh, that is unusual.  Soup must be hot"  "Not when it's gespatcho" "Haha, so true haha".  Utterly appalling.  It was time to leave.

Forcing down a very alcoholic Roobarb & Custard.

View into the corridor

The front bar
923.  Brothers Arms, Heeley, Sheffield

Initially confused by the huge Olde Shakespeare signs, I realised the pub must've had a recent name change when i saw a few 'flappy' (not a technical term) signs hanging off the pub (some tenuous link to the local ukelele band being called the Everly Pregnant Brothers from what the GBG says).  It had the homeliness, warmth and good atmosphere I'd been craving earlier.  Two young bar chaps were genuinely friendly, happy to let me take my time and NOT look at the blackboard (I'd rather look at the pumps).  Ok, so the one who served me had a weird curly back hair bit which I'd love to have taken a pair of scissors to, but you can't have it all.  I was probably lucky to find a recently vacated table in the lounge, complete with much needed wood burner as the rest of the pub was a bit sporty and/or sparse.  But this was where the action was, and three friendly young metaller dudes nodded at me, a sinister Sheffield version of Jack the Ripper appeared (he was disappointingly normal looking beneath hat and leather bag.  Obvious serial killer).  A silent man next to me plying his Thai bride with Scotch whisky suddenly burst into life and asked the bewildered barmen what the gossip was.  "It is a Tuesday, you should know by now the gossip happens on a Sunday!" was the reply.  Though they then contradicted themselves with a confused tale of a man crashing his car into the pub earlier on.  "He went unconscious for about a minute which is serious, so they say".  In unison, the room then slagged off the forthcoming Oktoberfest.  "We've got no German bands on, no umpapa music, I'm certainly not dressing in Lederhosen, I don't see the point of it!" With my superb pint under the gaze of the strange man now asking about my portable charger, and some nice old posters of British holiday resorts like Bridlington and Filey, I almost stayed for another!

Ye Olde Shakespeare Inn - whattttt? 

Sketchy evidence it is the Brothers Arms

Woodburning fun in the lounge area.

Friendly barstaff preside over great ales and fancy pub snacks

The Sheffield Ripper (don't call me Ched) pops in for a pint.
I just got to the bus stop in time to extend a weary arm and had enough time to pop back into Sheffield Tap for a swift half, though I had to stand dangerously close to the ladies toilets and in the gents in the intervening 2 or 3 hours, my empty drink bottle from earlier was still on the sink,  Someone needs a Wetherpsoons style cleaning wallchart, I think!

They probably thought it was a fancy soap in truth.

Corridor drinking, sorry ladies, piss away, don't mind me.
I got back to York direct which was a nice boost with no further drama, after last week's farce, and wasn't too late home.

And there you have it, my last BRAPA ticks pre-Australia.  I'm off to research some real ale bars in Melbourne and I'd like to say I'll be back on Tue 25th for another trip to the outskirts of Sheffield, though jet-lag may play a part so we'll see.

Bon voyage ya flamin' galahs,  Soi

Sunday, 9 October 2016

BRAPA - Liverpool & Birkenhead

It was time for John Watson's stag do, and proving I'm an unselfish best-man, I didn't try and turn it into a full-on BRAPA pub ticking extravaganza, as tempting as that might've been.  Two new pubs and a few classics requested by the stag were the order of the day, and the worst thing I made him do was wear a Mansfield Town shirt for about 30 seconds!!

Breakfast Time
The Crown was our first port of call, with their amazing value high quality breakfasts, friendly staff (the scousest scousers in any Liverpool pub in my experience) and all that grand decor.  Okay, so I dropped half my toast on the floor, the back room struggled to warm up due to ceiling height issues, and a crazy landlady type person made us complete a Mitchell & Butler online survey so they could prove they are the best M&B pub in the world.  3 minutes my eye, it took about 15!  And a young girl pouted for probably the drabbest selfie session ever, in a dark corner by the door.  I drank Orange Juice from a Pepsi glass which was rather upsetting.

Thanks to Tom for the stag-based suggestion
We took the train to Birkenhead (where Kathy Burke and Anthony Head were probably trialing their new double act sitcom) and with the Tranmere fans safely locked in Prenton Park for their 12:15 kick off, we had the run of a very barren part of 'town'.   But it had a BRAPA pub!

Unhelpful bike didn't give any clue where the pub actually was!
920.  Gallaghers Pub & Barber's Shop, Birkenhead

Well this was an interesting concept, as beyond the bar, a little raised area with a real life human man having a haircut!  Did he have a pint?  Probably not, but had the most middle-of-the-road 00's music sound track not been blasting out, all you'd be able to hear was the buzz of a razor.  Barbers or not, this was a cracking little pub and had I not been part of a larger group, reckon I'd have got chatting to the friendly bar staff.  It had lots of old military stuff hanging from the bar, stories about the H.M.S. Birkenhead, and loved my Brimstage ale.  What else can I say, I was in a group so I wasn't observing any crazy conversations or events, not that anyone else was here!  The haircut victim left, looking satisfied but knowing how many women I work with have had awful experiences at their hairdressers ending in tears, I think a Prosecco bar equivalent could be a great idea.

John, Krimbo and me with my Sainsbury's bag of tricks.

Live haircutting action

Jig wonders where his hair has gone when he wasn't looking.....

Back in Liverpool, we found ourselves at the recently saved Roscoe Head where a couple of grizzled old locals looked suspiciously at us as I spilt beer froth everywhere - don't mention we are a stag party!  Any guilt I might've felt about being part of a group entering such a small place were extinguished when a mixed group of old men, wives and kids decided to squash into our tiny room despite having the WHOLE PUB TO AIM AT - why do people do this?  The men chatted on pub issues, ignoring the female and child element.  If I'd found them annoying, much worse was to follow as a massive group of people came in and blocked the whole bar room, including our way out.  SIT DOWN!  You'd think there weren't any other rooms, well they are and they are all beautiful.  This pub is amazing and gets better each time I visit, I just hope Lion Tavern gets saved in the same way.

John and Krzb about to go in, note the line of outdoor drinkers just behind them,

921.  Mackenzie's, Liverpool

And just two streets away, my second and final tick of the day was this former HSBC which was supposed to have Irish leanings, being a whiskey bar though they spelt it whisky which as I know, and Mr Nicholls pointed out, is the Scottish version so that was one pub fail.  Another fail was the absolutely horrific artwork on display.  Clowns done in a 18th century classic style - well, it isn't funny, just upsetting!  On the upside, the young barman was a nice chap and ordering a beer called 'Northern Powerhouse My Arse' from an unknown Liverpool brewer was always going to more amusing than a clown, vaguely.  Black napkins replaced beer mats, I'd forgotten to bring an emergency one sadly.  The loos were pretty ornate (not quite Philharmonic standard) and there was a crazy lit up outdoor area which looked like a cross between a fairground and a drug trip.   

John and Krimbo already look fed up by insistence on photographing every pub.

Horrid clown and a more normal art piece.

It's not whisky, or whiskey.

A man helpfully points the way to the superb downstairs toilets.
After some cashpoint Jiggery-pokery, I took the gang to the Peter Kavanagh's which I loved before an Everton evening game once.  After a local scally photo-bombed me (it had to happen, it is Liverpool), we were in a very busy pub but still had time a have a nice joke with the very hardworking Spuggie-esque barmaid about Welsh beer pronunciation.  Luckily, I found a hidden room round the back and the three old men inhabiting it nodded at me in a respectful way when I appeared, like I knew my stuff (which I don't).  They were talking about sci-fi the whole time we were there, unusual for 70 year old Guinness drinkers, and "it is when the robots kill you that you have a problem" was the best thing I heard all day.  So we sat and played "York Pub Top Trumps", avoided a dog based stand-off, and admired a chair arm with the face of Gary Neville and Mackenzie Crook's love-child.  Pub of the day.

Photobombed by a local scally.

Action shot of me entering the pub

Nice floor - as we try to get served.

A chair arm we can all appreciate.
Next we had another John Watson request pub, Ye Crack which I came to many years earlier.  It was a lot busier today and the staff seemed to make such a meal of pulling the pints (my round), that a huge queue of impatient punters had formed behind me and I was glad we hadn't left it any longer.  The pub had a really great electric atmosphere, ultra friendly, and we found a big seat in the main bar area where we were reminded in true Scouse tradition never to buy the Sun, though one very odd thing was the beer me and Krimbo had chosen tasted just like Philadelphia Cream Cheese - yet it somehow worked!  Very odd. 

Next, I tried to give the Grapes a shot, being a BRAPA tick, it was re-open after a recent refurbishment and we were ready for tea.  I had noticed they were doing food.  However, we could not get within ten yards of the bar once inside, it smelt of paint, and was really bright and quite horrific looking, so may be wise to give it chance to bed in and judge it again on a proper BRAPA day, if still in the GBG on my next visit.

Krzb blends into the foliage outside the Grapes
Instead, we went for an old favourite and my most visited Liverpool pub, the Dispensary with their amazing trusty Titanic Plum Porter which never let's you down, it is to beer what Kevin Sheedy's left foot was to Everton in the 80's.  The pub was even more heaving than the Grapes, so we gave up on food for now and TPP is practically a meal in a glass anyway.  Certainly one of your five a day.    England were playing Malta on TV, not that anyone was really watching, and those who were, seemed to see it more as an excuse to laugh at England's over-hyped tossers which suited us fine as we squashed near a shelf and partition by the door.  

Just to confuse my addled mind, Dispensary used to be a Grapes too!
After a Big Mac meal on the train, and a game of "avoid the drunken Geordie racegoer scum" back in York, we said farewell to the stag who'd lost his voice, and the rest of us went in York Tap which looked like a warzone with sticky floors, pumps turned round, traumatised local drinkers, and a big raceday poo blocking the toilet.  Despite this, me and Jig stayed for a couple (Dark Star and Durham ales) and the staff did work hard to improve things so full credit, and that was the end of a knackering but excellent day!

See you after Tuesday when I make my not so long-awaited return to Sheffield.


Wednesday, 5 October 2016

BRAPA - A Millers Tale of Two Spoons

The Maltby Welcoming Committee meet me (photo courtesy M.Taylor)
The omens weren't particularly good as I headed to Rotherham for the first time in BRAPA South Yorkshire Tuesday evening history.

When trying to buy my train ticket, my card declined three times before accepting as if to say "danger Si!"  I crossed the road outside the station, and was nearly mowed down by a careering wagon displaying a "Craft beer" advert.  When I looked more closely, it was a Wetherspoons van.  It was almost like fate was laughing at me.

After locating Rotherham bus station (sorry, Interchange) and standing at the wrong stop for 10 minutes, a softly spoken frail old lady told me it had taken her four hours to get her winter flu jab, something she blamed solely on Rotherham Interchange.  Once on the bus, an Eastern European man glared at us from outside the Stag pub, he was smoking aggressively.

25 minutes later and from the safety of the top of my double decker, I finally saw the first pub and pressed the bell.

Bus eye view of Maltby Spoons
918.  Queen's Hotel, Maltby

'Spoons seem to get a much worse press than they deserve when I read various comments and articles on Twitter, but it's examples like this that they can be most proud of.  I walked into an electric atmosphere, smiling & hard working staff milling around and "SHOUTING" every time anything remotely interesting happened.  There were loads of "coming soon" stickers on all the boring pumps, so a young barman took me to the (exciting) other end of the bar like he had an appointment booked with me.  "This is MY domain" he proudly declared surveying the ales, obviously delighted to find a fellow ale fan.  He volunteered to put a "coming soon" Exmoor Gold on for me, which I declined, but it was a kind offer.  I also declined a taster of the porter and he even laughed at my usual "I'll be brave and go straight into it!" routine.  No one does that.  Okay, so the main barmaid told him off for trying to put the Exmoor on early, but she then told off an old man who tried to complain that he'd expected chips with his sandwich.  "Well you should've made yourself clearer!" she said and he trudged off disconsolately.  Brilliant.  I hate food complainers.  Staff were the best thing about this place, totally balls-to-the-wall take no nonsense from the weirdo locals.  This is obviously the most popular place in town, for despite being vast and multi roomed, there was scarcely one seat available.  I had to perch on a posing table in the main area, asking a crazier looking Rhod Gilbert (with a pot on foot) if I could take one of his posing stools.  "You can sit with me if you want mate!" he gurgled.  "Errm no thanks 'Mate'" I replied.  The next 25 minutes seemed to fly by, as staff flew backwards on forwards with food plates galore.  Then a Sheffield Wednesday fan put his hand down his tracksuit bottoms and scratched his crotch (as they so often do).  It was time to get the bus.

View to the bar - note 2017 GBG recognition and weird tropical themed rum area.

The severed head of a local who burnt his 50p Spoons vouchers and then proudly tweeted about it.
It was pitch black when I arrived back at Rotherham Interchange half an hour later, but it was 'Spoons time again .....

Looks like a Spoons.  Is a Spoons!

919.  Rhinoceros, Rotherham

Who knew Rotherham was well-known for it's Rhinoceros based history?  Well, now you do.  Having been so pro Spoons after that fantastic example in Maltby, it was almost inevitable that we were going to see the flip side of the chain.  It was deceptively quiet, in that no one was talking yet almost every table was occupied, by lone drinkers.  There was a chilly draught, the staff seemed withdrawn, tables were slightly sticky, a faint smell of sick hung in the air, and my Monkey Wrench ale was tough going, though decent quality.  All the memories of what Wetherspoons pub so often are came flooding back to me, and I became the first person in history to get nostalgic for Maltby.  I sat near the most animated group, four local old boys to see what was cracking off.  Well, the loudest and sweariest was impressing them with a tale that when he worked at British Steel in the 70's, it cost £45 if you wanted to boil a kettle to make a brew.  Sounded like bullshit to me but his mates were loving the story.  He said electricity was almost forbidden.  It had obviously left it's mark, for when another man said he was going home for beans on toast, our B.S. friend remarked "what is wrong with cold bread and beans straight from the tin"?  They all laughed and left shortly after.  Brilliant!  I then went to the loo and witnessed my first ever "live toilet check update".  You know what I mean, those boards you see that say things like "Sam last checked these toilets at 17:29 and they passed their inspection". Well, "Sam" simply made sure there was no one in any cubicle, signed the wall, went in a cubicle himself, had a quick poo, and left.  Life has been hard post-England.  It was time I left too.

No need for my emergency beermat in the Rhino

Man wows the crowds by getting served standing on a magic carpet.
Train Trauma Epilogue

It was always going to be a late return home for me but train delays at Rotherham were further exacerbated at Bolton on Dearne when a girl threatened to throw herself off the railway bridge, bringing us to a 1 hour and 7 minute standstill.

Not that there was much sympathy for her mental fragility or the chain of events which had led her to do this from the six other people in my carriage.  "I hope the waste of skin tops herself" declared one chap to a great roar of laughter from the others.  Harsh!  I joined in anyway.

"They'll have to scrape what's left of her off the track" contemplated a loud blonde girl from Thurnscoe quite eagerly.   "We'll be here all night".

A brunette with loads of face piercings turned to talk to me.  "I only live at fucking Goldthorpe two fucking minutes away but I've broken my fucking toe so I can't fucking walk" she stated quite eloquently.  She was the most gentle of all my fellow passengers and even wished me luck at work for the following day!

All but me and a thin blonde man (who'd travelled all the way from Reading to somehow end up on this train) got off for a smoke, but were told off by the guard for doing so.  Then there was huge uproar as two train crew brought the pink haired girl, still alive, and locked her in the drivers compartment.  The police (eventually) turned up and dragged her off, she was kicking and screaming all the way into the van.

"Taser the selfish bitch" shouted the young hippie lad who was obviously trying to impress Thurnscoe girl.  And then, finally, we were on our way.

11pm MaccyD's in Leeds, back in York 11:45pm, cuppa, bed at 1am, knackered all day.  Thanks luv!