Friday, 19 May 2017

BRAPA - Glasgow 3, Hull .... Pre-emptive.

It might sound unbelievable but BRAPA had barely crossed my mind as me and three work colleagues journeyed north in First Class comfort, 11am on Thursday 4th May.

Just to give you a bit of boring background, my new team "Static Data" (whom I went to Australia for) were up for the "Team of the Year" award at the Clydesdale/Yorkshire Bank annual awards ceremony.  Everything about my bank is Clydesdale-centric, and we were the only YB nominees.

I travelled with fellow worker Karl (a walker who's either talking non stop, eating beige food, or asleep), my boss Carole (a Burnley fan), and somebody elses boss, Vicki, who was up for some individual award.

It was only when we passed Motherwell, a town so intriguing to me, I nearly jumped off the train to see if it was as beautiful as I imagine, that I suddenly thought seriously about pub ticking.  After all, we were there for 2pm and the event didn't start 'til 6:30pm.  We checked in to the Radisson Blu, directly across the road from my one remaining Wetherspoons tick.  Ever get the feeling the BRAPA gods are smiling on you?

I must have a "BRAPA look" cos in the lift, Carole said "you're going to be in a new pub in half an hour aren't you?"  She read my mind, the others slept and watched daytime TV but I was straight off with my GBG app guiding me over this bridge, through a tunnel full of pigeon shit to an unpromising location,  to a pub people always bang on about.

1115.  Laurieston Bar, Glasgow

So I wander in and it has such a quiet feel, like being in a library, as a few miserable old gents line the typically Scottish island bar.  The barman seemed quite friendly, and the ales were all Fyne which is one of my favourite breweries so can't knock it.  I'd instructed my Dad to come here a few months ago, and report back to me.  He was hardly blown away but admitted it was good, and it really did feel like being in a time-warp.  He said 1950's but it felt more 1970's to me, in a deep red way.   My favourite feature was the curved customer tables with drip mats instead of beer mats, more pubs should do this.  The walls were full of newspaper clippings, the pub seemed to hate cannabis and love obituaries, but not necessarily in that order.   Still, this was BRAPA so it couldn't stay serene for long, not in a pub like this.  A crazed skinny bald man came in (he loved shaking hands with everyone), set his sights on a purple faced big nosed serious looking Glasgow drinker, and said he was convinced he knew him.  This was how he he figured it out:
SKINNY : "You are a Rangers fan aren't ya?"
PURPLE : "No!"
SKINNY : "Celtic?"
PURPLE : "Yes!"
SKINNY : "I knew I knew ya!  I've seen ya in the pubs in Govan."
PURPLE : (reluctantly) "Aye, I did go to a pub in Govan once, couple of weeks back."
PURPLE : "errrm, probably".
It was classic deduction, and good for me cos up until this point, I'd struggled to hear any conversation unless it involved a football reference, managing to make out odd words and phrases like "St Johnstone, aye", "Hamilton Accies" and most amusingly "I'd like to fucking shut that Roy Keane up if I saw him!" which of course, came from the mouth of skinny (I'd like to see him try) who had asked if he could plug his many electrical devices into the pubs mains so wires cascaded around the bar.  I was laying low, but he came over the shake hands and tell me "you look kinda lost mate, are you okay?"  I was feeling a bit lost, but only due to him.  The barman smiled over at me like "don't worry, he's the local nutter" and as Dire Straits started playing (always the sign of a good pub, and I'm barely even joking), it was time to move on, after a farewell handshake with Skinny.

A good 15 minute fast walk took me towards the Merchant City area where I'd visited the Blackfriars (v.good) and Babbity Bowster (blah)  pubs before Queens Park v Stranraer a few years ago.  Now I had a new one to visit.

Tandleman, a proper blogger who'd been here very recently, did the very same walk as me and described it as relaxing, but not for me as, on the High Street, falling masonry just in front of me off the frontage of an old building forced me, three chavs, a student and a local alcoholic out into the road!

It was a sign of impending BRAPA doom surely, as I turned the corner but the pub was nowhere to be seen, surely it was supposed to be opposite Babbity Bowster?  I double checked Google Maps and eventually saw the one remaining sign of it, the GBG 2017 window sticker - nothing sadder on an an empty building, and I looked closer and saw a notice saying the pub had just closed down!

Squint and you may be able to read it!  
It explained a lot about poor beer quality and bad service witnessed on Tandleman's visit, perhaps I'd dodged a bullet,  It was called MacGregors Pie & Ale Howff which sounds annoying anyway, unless you are desperate for a pie which I wasn't, what with deep friend haggis pakoras waiting for me at the bank event!

I had a back up plan though and another ten minutes further east, it was time to try out one of Dad's favourite Glasgow haunts when he's up here on pension business......

1116.  Drygate, Glasgow

Really and truly, I'd have to say I found this place irritating right from the get-go.  Pretty much a cross-breed of BrewYork's premises in my own city, combined with a bit of Newbury-Newbury, with a dash of Sheffield Tap if I'm being kind.  I walked in to this cavernous brew place, immediately accosted by a pristine white shirted blonde waitress who stood at a cash till brandishing a leather bound menu at me, in that weapon-like way they do in Moggerhanger and North Rigton.  I could quite clearly see the bar in the background, but still felt obliged to tell her that that was all I was looking for was a drink.  Most of the ales were keg, but I saw two of theirs on handpull, went for the light 3.8% and have to say, it was really really good.  I was served by another identikit blonde, but a young gang of her mates had just wandered in to distract her from her job!  I sat down but the tables weren't shaped for human legs to get under, all weird modern cube shapes.  You could see the brewery through the glass.  There were lots of "inspirational" quotes like "Open Doors, Open Minds" and "Brewed Fearlessly" aimed at the BrewDog generation, enough to give them hipster hard-ons and make their trendy beards bristle in delight, but unlikely to work on an increasingly old feeling curmudgeon like me!  It was time to get into the spirit of things so I joined the small crowd of skinny jean wearers on the breezy but warm and sunny upstairs balcony, a weird concept cos I climbed loads of steps, seemed to be on a roof, but in some ways, was at ground level too!  Very disconcerting.  A man with sunglasses on should've been looking at his bae, a sexy brunette from Bristol (probably), but he kept glancing at me instead - well it takes all sorts.  I stopped on the stairwell to let a couple come up, he had a Batfink t-shirt on, she had a Shaun the Sheep bag,   Neither so much as smiled, never mind a thanks.  I took my glass back to the bar on way out, no thanks, no goodbye.  Dad is a regular here and is friends with a barmaid from L**ds - I could've done with an experience like that! 

I had an hour plus in my room to shower, change into my suit and relax before the evening do.  We met up in reception, and went to this secret place called the "Supper Club" in Royal Exchange Square.  After quizzing a barman, I managed to get a couple of bottles of Deuchars IPA which I considered a good win.

Unsurprisingly, despite a jolly little awards ceremony, we lost out to Glasgow favourites the Cash ISA team (booooo!) who everyone loved, so I tucked into the food and chatted to the man next to me who liked the BRAPA idea and won the "lifetime achievement award!"

Oh dear!

Blurry Deuchars 

My free COO pen, and half eaten haggis pakora

In a crazy twist no one predicted, the girl I went to Australia with, Alanna, won the Employee of the Year award but she was in Florida wrestling Micky Mouse so I text her with the news.  Luckily, I left the 'Spoons opposite the hotel til last so I dragged Carole, Karl and Vicki along.  It was just gone 10pm.

1117.  Sir John Moore, Glasgow

Now I'm not saying I was drunk, but perhaps a bit tipsier than I thought as we walked in and grabbed a posing table near the door.  It was definitely my round, I took Karl with me to carry the drinks, and I cursed myself for not remembering to bring any Mudgie Vouchers, as they are now officially known in the BRAPA glossary.  I don't need to describe the pub, it was very 'Spoons, little bit more intimate than the Edward Wylie, and a bit less fraught with emotion than the Hengler's Circus.  The toilets were typically a ridiculous maze to get to.  I told Vicki she'd have to make notes as I was too drunk, she managed to spot a man asleep on his table, who quickly woke up and started ranting about failed relationships very loudly.  At the bar, I saw Green Devil IPA, a beer I only see when I'm drunk but had to get a pint of it anyway.  The barmaid charged me £10.30 (not just for the Green Devil!) which was reasonable I think, I gave her a tenner, and then got very confused when she told me I'd not given her enough.  Jeez, I was worse than I thought.  I told the barmaid I was a bit tipsy and she played along with it brutally indicating I was a total embarrassment - hopefully, for comedy effect.  At the same time, a blonde student in tartan skirt, equally drunk, sidled up and made comments about our overly smart attire for a Wetherspoons at 10pm.  I realised I still had my SI EVERITT name badge pinned to me, and in a sudden fit of self awareness, tried to remove it whilst holding drinks, but couldn't, so folded my arms in a mad, uncomfy way.  Student says to barmaid "why do I always meet geeks?" CHARMING, but then she kept talking at me, and Karl, a man who knows all about not knowing when to stop talking, said he didn't know where she was going to stop.  She sat in a booth near us, with her drunks mates for an epic selfie session whilst the 4 of us reflected on failing to win an award! I even had time to get a pint of something from Alloa.  Interesting times, and a lesson to all men, it's a good idea to go to a Glasgow 'Spoons on a Thursday night in a suit. 

I didn't take any indoor photos, so fast forward two days and I was in Hull on my birthday to see us presumably thrash Sunderland at home and secure another season of Premier League "bliss".  We'd brought Sunderland legend John Watson along to 'enjoy' the day with us.

After a pint and a half in the wonderful but slightly rough Burlington Tavern (a pub that really should be in the GBG if it really was simply based on beer quality, plus it is £2 a pint and is NEVER closed), Dad had heard a whisper about a new 'real ale bar' so we decided to check it out.  

Chilli Devil's, Hull

Micro pub and chilli was the concept, a brave one for Hull which despite the Scale Lane area and of course, the majestic Whalebone and much improved George, it still doesn't feel like a City that has properly taken real ale to it's heart.  "A Paaarnt of laaaager for one naaarnty naaarn" is more what you are likely to hear in Hull.  We weren't expecting much due to name and red glassy frontage, but from the interesting range of 4 local ales and the warm welcome we got, it was a real grower.   The owner wore a bandana and seemed like a cross between a WWF wrestler and a hairy biker.  He was a Doncaster Rovers fan, so I nodded politely at that bit, and we sat down where sadly, there was a chilly draught from outdoors, shame cos had this been cosy, may have been tempted to stay for another.  The ale was top quality, the single toilet was warmer, and two men came in, asked for a chilli menu, then left.  Poor etiquette.  Stay for a half at least!  I bet the chilli is super hot, though smelt tempting.  They then played some classic 90's/early 00's punk rock, so obscure even I couldn't remember which bands they were.  A promising start and a shoo-in for GBG inclusion if it can keep doing this for the next year or so.

We then went to the George for the rest of pre-match.  Then Hull City tried to ruin the day, and all the focus was on the following Saturday's trip to South London/Surrey which I was giving Tom far too much control over!  I'll review that soon.



  1. Whilst the beer quality was excellent and it was a nice experience and much better than expected, I'm not sure you can call Chilli Devils a shoo-in for GBG inclusion.

  2. Carole only needed to know about BRAPA to realise you would go to a new pub. You would never turn down such an opportunity and neither should you. I hope you at least got the 'Spoons drinks on bank expenses, if not the whole lot. It surely counts as sustenance on a business trip.

    It is impossible to give Tom Irvin too much control, let alone far too much control.