|The Maltby Welcoming Committee meet me (photo courtesy M.Taylor)|
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|
'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.|
|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.|
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!