Monday, 27 July 2015

BRAPA - a brief glossary of commonly used terms

I'm just conscious (in more ways than one) BRAPA can get quite complex, with acronyms and commonly used phrases that I sometimes think only me and Tom understand.  When I see that today, I've had my first ever blog view from Indonesia for example, I thought it might be good practice to 'crack the code' as they say, which might also sharpen up the nature of my challenge.

1.  BRAPA - Okay, if you really are a newcomer or just a simpleton, this acronym stands for "British Real Ale Pub Adventure" and sums up the whole idea, that is to tick off every pub in the Good Beer Guide, not just the 2015 edition, but each one in the future too.  4,500 in all, at the time of writing, I am approaching 16% completed!  Note it is a 'pub adventure', not a 'beer adventure'.  If I walk 5 miles in the pouring rain uphill past bleating sheep and find a grumpy barman, growling bulldog and two miserable locals, with a beer choice of John Smith's Cask or Doom Bar, who cares, I've "ticked another one off".

2.  The Red Pen - This is actually a fluorescent yellow highlighter pen.  You'll just have to go with me on this one, and blame Tom who coined it.  It is what is used to "tick off" the pubs in the Good Beer Guide (GBG) which I take on my travels, and is basically my bible (or my Koran as I unwisely once told a Muslim taxi driver).  I often get barstaff or locals to 'tick off' their own pub for added interactivity (see Grill in Aberdeen, Green Tree in Brompton).

3.  Tom - You'll often hear me refer to Tom, Tom Irvin, my BRAPA chief advisor and current holder of BRAPA person of the year (yes, I have a year end awards ceremony!).  He drinks blackcurrant with tap water, no ice, pint glass.  He is a railway expert, a money saving expert, and a good co-ordinator  And his endless enthusiasm helps drive me on.  You may sometimes hear me talk about "managing expectations", this is me quelling a particularly "out of the box" Tom move , for example using a spaceship to visit 15 pubs on the outskirts of Nottingham between 11am-3pm.

4.  A Swift Half - You may often hear me refer to having a "swift half", but don't take this literally.  It might be, but it also might be an emergency pint of lemonade (as when dehydrated in Nottingham) or 4 leisurely pints in York Tap after Cambridge with Jig last September.  It is most likely referred to in pubs I've already visited, but a good stop gap, time filler, or relaxation point - Greyhound in Riccall on Saturday was a good example.

5.  One Month Reverse Owl - This is me between the approximate dates of 10th September - 10th October every year.  Whereas an owl malts it's feathers in the summer and is less vocal and active, I get my new Good Beer Guide early/mid September and my BRAPA activity temporarily drops off (particularly midweek) as I take stock of new entries/deletions etc.  (see also book work)

6.  Book Work - Coined by some academic man, stolen from Tom, this refers to any time spent in the name of the BRAPA challenge from the comfort of my own home.  This may be anything from planning a complex journey, writing archive entries, booking tickets, cross ticking GBG's, BRAPA statistics, updating my spreadsheet, responding to social media messages etc etc.

7.  Chris Irvin Syndrome (CIS) - Not specific to Chris, but this term relates to someone enthusing about a BRAPA pub I have not yet visited, me building it up in my mind, and finding it quite disappointing.  Doric Arch at Euston, Newark's Micro Pub, Claret Freehouse in Addiscombe are all original CIS examples.  There is of course, also the BTFCIS (Back to Front Chris Irvin Syndrome) where someone tells me a pub is terrible, but I go along and am pleasantly surprised,  The Reindeer in Overton is a recent example of this.

8.  Ten Down at the Cross - I'm no train expert but this useful phrase means you are ten minutes late getting into London Kings Cross on a given train journey.  So impressed was Dad by this, he invents his own like "3 up at the Pete" when we were amazingly 3 minutes early into Peterborough a year or two ago, but it quickly slowed back to even stevens. "13.5 down at the white shite" and "levels at the Manc Pic" are other recent examples.

9.  Pre-emptive tick - This is a pub which isn't currently in the Good Beer Guide, perhaps it is fairly new or has recently been taken over, and is getting rave reviews about it's ale, or has won a "Most Improved Pub" award from CAMRA.  Chequers at Wrestlingworth was a (fairly) good example of this.  Tom sometimes sees every pub as a pre-emptive tick, which I can understand to some extent.  Beware though, Christine Andrew recently referred to Bradford's new Brew House as a "pre-emptive strike" which sounded like she wanted me to launch a missile in the pub's direction.

10.  Bonus Pub - I use this term to differentiate from what I consider a great bet for a pre-emptive with a more fanciful effort.  For example, I recently visited CASC and Brewdog in Aberdeen.  Both were good but a deliberate lack of handpulls means how likely are they to get in the GBG unless they have a massive change of policy.

11.  The County Clincher -  This is the final 'pub tick' I need to complete a given county (well, until the next GBG is published and new pubs become necessary.  For example, at the time of writing, the New Adelphi in Hull will probably be East Yorkshire's county clincher, West Yorkshire is most likely Wintersett and Bedfordshire could be Souldrop's Bedford Arms but a bit of a way to go with that one still.  When I do them, I'll be all over Twitter like a football commentator "Oh yes, it's in from New Adelphi .... and the county has been clinched!  Remarkable." #eastyorks (or something).

12.  A Manoeuvere - Another one I've caught from Tom relating to train travel mainly.  and whilst I trust his honesty implicitly, I've always taken this to be a euphemism for some devious way of not getting 'gripped' (caught/charged) by a particularly officious ticket guard which could be hopping trains or even hiding in the loo or blinding them with science - but I'm probably imagining such behaviour.  My "manoeveres" are usually pointless as I have a valid ticket anyway - see Castleford.

13.  A Jakey Dive - I'm in Scotland and it's the kind of pub where you might find a more toothless, working class style of drinker.  Aberdeen's terrifying Wetherspoons, Justice Mill, is a good example.  Cowdenbeath's New Goth too, but hardly a pre-emptive tick.  Since April, Jakey Dive can also be used if you see someone snorting cocaine in the toilets (see Ross on Wye or York's Three Tuns).

14.  Whip it in - As in "Si, as we are travelling back to Kings Cross from London Bridge post match and we have time to kill, you may as well whip in any Northern line pubs en route".  It basically means a convenient bonus BRAPA pub you have maybe not planned from the outset, but is easy to get to and time just about allows.  This attitude to BRAPA leaves me with mixed feelings, but efforts like the Three Compasses in Hornsey prove it can be a valuable way of getting additional ticks.

15.  An "OMG Si!" Pub - This is when people I know, especially those who don't even care much about pubs are proud to report they have visited a pub that I haven't, or express extreme surprise and disappointment that I haven't managed it.  Or bask in the glory of it.  Or I'm just jealous.   Here's a few examples.  The Mexborough Concertina Club (Irvin's).  Stratford's Tap East (Ben).  Everywhere in Berwick (Lizzy).  Soup Kitchen & Molly's in Manchester (Christine).  Oakham's Grainstore (Mum and Dad).  Hunslet's Garden Gate (everyone at work).  Barge & Barrel Elland / Narrow Boat, Skipton (Lu - but these have been rectified).  Guildford in Edinburgh (Dad),  Rat Inn, Anick (Krzb Britain), the Adnams one in Aldeburgh, Suffolk (John Watson),   And that's just a very small percentage.

16.  A Retrospective visit - Perhaps I was writing up my archives and I either could not remember much about it (Valley/Cellars, Scarborough), I had a bad experience there, or feel I must have been missing something (Gardeners Arms, Hull), because it is still in the GBG all these years on, gets a great write up, and I feel I want to redress the balance.  There is another side to this coin, if a pub was superb first time round, I'd be unlikely to go out of my way for a revisit as I'd be worried the magic would not be repeated, thus souring my memories.  A bit like going to Yeovil away again.

17.  A Finn Experience - No I don't mean I met a dolphin, a man from Finland or a former blonde Home & Away star of the 90's.  Sadly.  It is a pub which seemed at first glance, or for at least 5 minutes to be absolutely terrible, or at least incredibly average, and then things started happening which made me suddenly see the light, "wow, I can see why this is a great pub now!"  The Morning Star in Lincoln this January was a most perfect example of this.   Named after Craig Finn, brilliant songwriter of a band called the Hold Steady who often writes about someone in a bad situation (drugs etc) only to have a kind of resurrection, religious or otherwise, right at the end of the album.  And all is well with the world.  But this is a new term so not used it yet.

And there you have it, now go away and re-read every single blog entry I have ever done.



  1. Do you need to start making multi-lingual posts?

    I can't claim credit for coining the phrase red pen, indeed I don't know who did originally coin it. It will have been a crank somewhere.

    Spaceships weren't on the list of things to get me disqualified from the Nottingham Forest quiz, so I'll see what I can do. I notice you didn't respond to my latest work round, so that will be used also.

    Prof (Charles Read is not some academic. He is both a brilliant mathematician, and I'm sure he won't mind me saying, a complete character.

    The Claret at Addiscombe was what seemed like a brilliant out of the box Crystal Palace idea at the time. I don't think any of us had been there before.

    I don't associate myself with the manoevere phrase much, my choice terms for fare evasion tend to be effing it or bunking it, there are probably others.

    Despite not having been there myself, I assumed you had your Tap East pub tick. We shall have to rectify that at some point, it should be an easy fill in move on the way in/out of the Street for Orient/Colchester/Ipswich/Spurs/'Chelmsford in 4 years time', you get the drift.
    There is more than 1 more of the OMG SI pubs that you list that Chris Irvin has visited and you haven't listed him as the 'offender'.

    I will do my homework of rereading one of your blog entries if you agree to me placing a pedantic comment on each of them as I go,

  2. I'm a bit late with my homework, but reading these for the first time akin to reading "Red Café" at the moment.

    Scarily familiar, most of that. I think it vital we distinguish our quests to tick off all the current GBG from those charlatans who have done all of a very old one (probably just the one railway worker who did the 1987 edition, though of course half of those had already closed).

    While in the (Frankie) Howerd Club in SE9 couple of years back, the friendly local who was apparently doing the same quest, and approaching the same 80% mark as me. This may have been an elaborate joke, or he might also be a "fixed editioner", to add a new derogatory term.

    A convention for those doing "each one in the future too" might be useful. We could hold it in the Newark micro, but as it's rubbish I'd prefer the Prince Rupert with its pizzas.

    On 16), I thought you were going to describe a visit because you thought you'd gone in the wrong pub (Cellars & Valley easy to confuse). I will make a special effort to revisit any pub I thought was particularly bad.

    The Maidenhead Conservative Club is that place. Enjoy.

  3. Reassuring it makes some sense to you! Yes, these one Guide tickers annoy me though I have been advised to 'see sense' and 'focus on one edition' many times!

    I also heard of a couple who finished the 1984 guide in about 2005, again lots shut by then! Imagine the quality decline of some pubs in 20 years too?!

    I've been told about a man called Duncan in Scotland who had only 21 left to tick in August. He calls it OCD. Again, I'm highly skeptical about his rules.

    A Newark convention sounds great and glad you agree about that Just Beer nonsense place!

    I fret over pubs like Ivy House in Sunderland which I've visited but before I was into ale! So agree on giving pubs second chance if bad experience (but it'd have to be low priority I.e. After my 63rd birthday!)

    Maidenhead? Not another Berkshire Jewel to look forward to!

  4. I'll get a PI on to "Duncan". Suspect he'd be shouting it from the rooftops if done ! Don't want to be Scott of the Beer Guide.

    In 1999 I went to the Ivy House when they had a private party on (in Sunderland !) and they wouldn't serve me at the bar. I finished off a blokes pint of Deuchars (I hope) when he went to the toilet and ran. There, I've confessed.

  5. Am I invited to the convention as an honourary consultant type? I have to confess that I've never actually got beyond the cafe on the corner and still require my Newark Castle shack tick. May I suggest though, much as I like pizza, that the convention is held in a pub where all delegates require the tick.

    If we are all still alive and the pub is still in the GBG, may I suggest holding a private party for Simon's 63rd birthday in the Ivy House.

    Dagger for Duncan!

    1. Comment of the decade Tom.

      Two's a crowd, three's a convention as they say. We'll get "Duncan" along as a guest speaker and pick holes in his achievement.

      Place we all need the tick ? Probably somewhere in Eire once CAMRA include their Wetherspoons - sorry.

      #DaggerforDuncan is tonight's #WhowillspeakforEngland

    2. #DaggerForDuncan we will get it trending in no time!

      63rd birthday bash sounds fun, I did Ivy House in 1998 but I must now confess I didn't even know what Deuchers was then!

      Eire Wetherspoons I will do if they start doing cask Guinness. Otherwise, Newark it is. Tom, compromise and you can be the door man, with a list showing my name, retired Martin and anyone living in Scotland called Duncan with OCD tendencies and a half baked pub challenge.

  6. I'm not sure Guiness in cask exists even in non 'Spoons in Ireland. Do you both require pubs in Ulster?

    Please can I be an unusual doorman who once formalities have started, locks the door (with a sign telling latecomers to knock) and faces inwards to maintain the required level of order. If so you're on.

    Dagger for Duncan.

    We are staying up.

  7. Exactly my point Thomas, exactly my point!

    And yes. Trying not think about NI trip for a few years though in case they get independence and consequently removed from GBG.

    You can be a shifty doorman like at the Inbred Arms in Manchester and have them pleading with you to let them in. That incident still rankles with me! Public house??