Okay, let's begin at the beginning. The acronym stands for "British Real Ale Pub Adventure" and sums up the challenge I face on a twice weekly basis, that is to tick off every pub in the Good Beer Guide, not just the 2017 edition, but each one in the future too. Approximately 4,500 in all, and at the time of writing, I am approaching 25% completed. Again. Please note it is a 'Pub Adventure', not a 'Beer Adventure'. So 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, it doesn't matter at all, as I've "ticked another one off".
2. Cross-Ticking / Book Work / Two Week Reverse Owl Syndrome
To make the 'challenge' even more 'challenging', I "cross-tick" the latest edition of the Good Beer Guide (GBG) to the previous one, so my figures are based on the current one though I do now keep an additional running total. I don't just focus on one edition of the Good Beer Guide like (lesser) 'pub tickers' have in the past (meaow, saucer of milk!) The number inevitably drops as new places open, old places close, some pubs go downhill, other unlikely ones are rejuvenated, new fads come n go etc.
The new edition is released around late August/early September so it's at this time of year I refer to Two Week Reverse Owl Syndrome which basically means I step away from Twitter, draw the blinds of BRAPA towers, and frantically 'cross tick' the GBG to work out my 'revised' lower figure, hoping the damage isn't too great. I'm also under 'embargo' from CAMRA not to reveal details of the new edition til mid September which makes pub-ticking around then joyfully farcical.
Owls malt their feathers and feel moody and unattractive in the summer months, becoming more visible and vocal by September, hence 'reverse owl syndrome'. That's a 100% BRAPA fact, don't say BRAPA isn't educational.
I often refer to this cross-ticking as 'book work', a term I was made aware of by BRAPA's original fan Tom Irvin, but he tells me was coined some academic guy who's name always escapes me (something like Charles Hawtrey, but not him).
3. A "Swift Half"
At the end of a day/evening of pub ticking, you may occasionally see me make reference to nipping into somewhere like Parcel Yard, Scottish Stores or York Tap for a "swift half" to finish the day. This is a device performed to stop Mother BRAPA nagging me about destroying my liver, and generally refers to anything between 1 and 3 pints. Anyway, I'm trying to stop this to ensure I get my maximum 6 pub quota done on a Saturday!
4. Brewery Ripping
This is the practice of extracting those extraneous 300 or so pages from the back of the Good Beer Guide to make it lighter and more manageable for those 5 mile country walks when my bag is already weighing me down. I use a very sharp stanley knife and ruler to help with this, and it's normally done within the first 2 weeks of receiving the GBG once the 'cross ticking' is complete. It's very empowering. I throw the pages in the bin or recycle to make papier mache sculptures of the Wetherspoons clientele in Maidenhead.
5. BRAPA Crapper
This is a term I give to someone / a group of people who stop BRAPA being as productive as it should be. If someone at work passed me a late £6.25M loan to drawdown on a Tuesday and I couldn't get to my evening pub cos I'd missed the train/bus, they'd be a BRAPA crapper. If a friend got married on a Saturday and I had to attend the whole thing, BRAPA crapper. If we were in the midst of a day's pubbing but someone stayed in a pub we were in for a second pint, and we ran out of time to go to that final pub of the day, BRAPA crapper.
This is a "non football football day", of course. Basically, this is when Hull City have an away game in a place so unappealing in terms of pubs, ground, ticket price and place etc., me, Tom and Dad all agree we aren't too fussed about attending. Instead, we go to a place (either nearby or other end of the country, it doesn't matter) where we can have a productive pub ticking day instead. There is a correlation between 'success of Hull City' and 'likelihood of NFFD' action - that is, the higher in the football pyramid HCAFC are, the more games we will miss cos Premier League is boring and we lose anyway. Of course, when games are moved for TV when we've already booked train tickets, we might be FORCED into an NFFD. This would rarely upset us. But when Hull City are in the Vanarama Blue Square Vauxhall Conference North in 4 years time, NFFD's will be a lot rarer. Now I do sound like Tom.
7. The Green Owl
George Orwell once wrote about "Moon Under Water", his ideal pub - it didn't exist of course (they do now, but they'd be a Wetherspoons and I'm not sure that was quite what he had in mind!) So I wrote my own vivid imagined pub, the Green Owl named because green is my favourite colour and owls are my favourite creatures! Characters like Albert (cheating at the pub quiz) and barmaids Rachel & Emily almost seem real, as Tom often casually drops them into conversation when I see him! So in my blog, if I refer to pub as being like the Green Owl in any way, I'm being highly complimentary.
8. Chris Irvin Syndrome (CIS)
Not specific to the lovely Chris (Tom's Dad), but this term relates to someone enthusing about a BRAPA pub I have not yet visited, me building it up in my mind, and then finding it quite disappointing. Doric Arch at Euston, Newark's incredibly overrated Micro Pub, the unhealthy Claret Freehouse in Addiscombe are all original CIS examples. A more modern example may be the Crooke Hall Inn near Wigan. There is of course, the rarer BTFCIS (Back to Front Chris Irvin Syndrome) where more than one person tells me a pub is terrible, but I go along and am pleasantly surprised, The Reindeer in Overton was a good BRAPA example of this.
9. Mudgie Vouchers
There are plenty of Wetherspoons in the GBG, which of course has both plus points and negative ones. Personally, I'd defend the chain against those who slag it off, but sometimes I'm sat in one and I think "hmmm, they don't exactly help their cause when they are like this do they?" Apart from their early opening times, my favourite thing about Wetherspoons pubs is that if you are a CAMRA member, you get vouchers each year offering 50p off for a pint of a real ale. Pub & beer blogger, King of Stockport and all round top chap Pub Curmudgeon sends me most of his through the post too, knowing I will use them! It's not just BRAPA that this is great for, but I work a stones throw from "Stick & Twist" in L**ds (a deserved GBG entry no less) so EVERY "after work drinks events" start here, so I get good value! My blogs will often refer to "I was annoyed I forgot my Mudgie Vouchers" or "despite being rather tipsy, I still managed to pull a tatty Mudgie Voucher out of my back pocket and hand it to the friendly brunette". I'd also like to say I just can't understand these CAMRA members who slate CAMRA for offering these vouchers, or even make a point of 'destroying' them in some ritualistic ceremony. When I started going to real ale pubs circa 2001/2 before real ale was as big as it was now, Wetherspoons pubs were amongst the most reliable in their commitment to ale, but oh how quickly the fickle people forget 15 years on now every restaurant, converted butchers and craft kitchen offer it!
10. "A Pint of Wetherspoons"
Whilst we are on the Spoonie subject, something a bit less complimentary (you've gotta be balanced in your writings haven't you?!) My Dad is to thank for this one, as he refer to "a pint of Wetherspoons" which you sometimes get in this chain's less good pubs. I know EXACTLY the pint he means. Dark brown, a bit murky, heavy and clarty yet somehow dishwatery at the same time. Problem is, his hilarious friend Bob Silcock actually thinks that Dad believes there IS such a thing as "pint of Wetherspoons", probably brewed in Tim's shed.
11. Pre Emptive Ticks
This is a pub which isn't currently in the Good Beer Guide, perhaps it is new (less than a year old!) or has recently been taken over by someone "committed to ale", and is getting rave reviews about it's ale, or has won a "Most Improved Pub" award from CAMRA. I'll have read about it somewhere, heard a whisper from a friend who knows the area, or a random chat with a local ("local knowledge") and decided I have time to fit it in. Then it's a case of hoping it appears in next year's GBG, and it stops my cross-ticking numbers from dropping too much if "pre-emptives come good".
12. Post Emptive Ticks
In a similar vein, but in reverse. Picture the scene, you are in Warwick with 5 GBG pubs to tick off. But you have capacity for a sixth pub, and you aren't aware of anything newly opened. However, you have seen a 'Guide Regular' that appeared in 2012-2016 editions consecutively, but isn't in this year. You pass it by chance, it is open, and an old blackboard outside says "pub of the season third place award central Warwicks branch winter 1978". Surely it's worth popping in, every chance it will get back in between now and the end of time (which is May 2041 as things stand).
You might think it makes absolutely no sense, when I have such high volumes of pubs to complete, that I'd ever contemplate re-visiting a GBG pub. But I do have a conscience. And quite a guilty one. So if, for example, I fell asleep and the session passed me by (Cross Keys, Chester. Fox & Hounds, Caversham), I went but drank lager (William Jamesons, Sunderland), I rushed it and only drank half (Combermere, Wolverhampton), or I feel I owe the pub due to poor behaviour on my part (Black Horse, Leighton Buzzard), I have a list of pubs I want to go back to before I die - but perhaps after May 2041 if my planned "drop dead once I've highlighted the 4500th pub and pressed 'send' on the blog" doesn't happen!
14. "OMG Si" Pubs
"Oh my god Si, how have you never been to THAT pub before?" goes the cry, at least once a month from someone I know who has been to a pub in the Good Beer Guide (or even an old classic that has been in the past), that I haven't. As the months go by, my Mum and Dad seem more and more surprised I've still not been to the Grainstore in Oakham or the Smiths Tavern in Ashbourne, just cos they did on a holiday. But why would I? They aren't in Cheshire or Bucks or Yorkshire are they? Perhaps the perfect example is Nelly's in Beverley. Sam Smiths, gas lit, old women serving ale straight from the jug, heritage, unique. Yeh yeh, blah blah, I've heard all about it, but I've not been. Yet no one is EVER impressed I've been to say, the Bedford Arms in Souldrop. And they should be. Oh, and don't you find, if you admit you haven't been somewhere, they say "but it is absolutely brilliant!" but if you say actually you have been, they look a bit deflated and say "yeh, i guess it's ok".
Put quite simply, this is children in a pub who are twats. I'm not anti all pub children, after all, when I was a toddler, I was allowed in the Tommy Wass on Dewsbury Road in L**ds even though they had a strict "no children" policy because I was quiet and well behaved (I was with my parents and grandparents I might add, not just sat at the bar alone supping Tetleys). I see well behaved kids these days, rare but it happens. I like that. But nothing kills a pub atmosphere quite as much as a tearaway toddler having a paddy, being spoilt, running around, just basically being twattish. In Victorian times, children were "seen and not heard". And the word "twild" didn't exist. Coincidence? I think not. The parents (twarents) are probably more to blame, but we can't afford to look into this too deeply in a glossary, but all I would say is I doff my cap to any pub who makes the unpopular 'no children allowed at any times' decision in the oh so P.C. 21st century. I appreciate the "no children after 7pm" gesture you see more commonly, but some of us prefer daytime drinking.
I'm on a roll now. Twogs. Extending the twild concept, twogs are dogs who are also twats. "Man's best friend" and there's no doubt about it when you enter a high proportion of GBG pubs, I see time and time again people making a fuss over strange dogs, using them as a route into conversation etc. which I guess is better than a total lack of social interaction! I've never liked dogs, but I can appreciate a sleeping docile one in front of the fire adds something to a pub ambience, some can be amusing and cute. But the majority are attention seeking smelly things, the smell of wet dogs makes me want to puke and it engulfs the pub, the bark goes through my soul, they are unpredictable, easily excitable, always trying to scavenge food, and when they lick their owners face, ugh worst thing ever! And some dog owners seem to have them as an accessory / status symbol to massage their own stupid egos which is even more wrong.
Note - you never get a "twat" (a cat that is also a twat) and that is because cats are lovely. And that is a BRAPA 100% certified fact.
17. P.I.S.S. Barmaids
P.I.S.S. stands for "Pretty if she smiles" and it refers to those barmaids who just don't make any effort to interact with the customer, and were obviously employed for their looks by some pervy overlord. It is such a waste, as they could improve the pub experience no end if they smiled, made eye contact, spoke, even said please or thanks, gave the old blokes on viagra one last hurrah, but it isn't going to happen. It's even more frustrating if you then see a gaggle of PISSers behind the bar THEN all smiling TOGETHER, but only with each other. My sister often talks about RBF (Resting Bitch Face) and I suppose that is a similar thing. Coming up with this term has helped me cope though, and if I'm being served by one, I often hum the tune of "pret-ty if she smi-iles" (to a football chant) under my breath. I better not get too cocky though, in the Bear in Maidenhead, a PISS barmaid came to clean my table just as I was typing "PISS barmaid" into the notes section of my iPhone. She kept looking at me curiously & scornfully after that and directed me to the loo before I even asked.
SCS refers to any person displaying strange "blog-worthy" behaviour en-route to a pub, whether it be on the train journey, on a bus, or in the town village itself. It originates from "Sobbing Cello Student", a girl who on one Tuesday evening trip to Greater Manchester kept bursting into tears, but then proudly boasting of her cello playing to businessmen, Asian schoolkids, and basically anyone who would listen, before seeing we'd arrived in Stalybridge, and rushing off to the loo to ball her eyes out again. Even Stalybridge isn't that bad. She was such a legend, she has been immortalised in BRAPA as the benchmark for future commuters.
Cornwall has become my new 'sporadic' county to focus on with a once a year trip planned until I finish the damn thing, which based on this year's cross ticking, might take longer than I originally anticipated. Being right at the end of the country and with their own language, it is perhaps no surprise that a bit like Hull and Liverpool, some of the folk have a very "us vs the world" attitude, like "we don't care about the rest of the UK, we are who we are, we are our own breed, we are the best!" Not realising this makes them rather insular. Upshot of this pubwise is in some of the more rural pubs, local men (jizzards) basically block the bar, act like they own the place, look down their noses, like they know everything, and that they are god's gift as though Cornwall is something magical. If you substitute Doom Bar for Greene King, and it's only Bedfordshire with a pretty coast line! (Please let me back in).
20. Other References
Of course, I drop in "cultural" references based on what I like etc which probably confuses everyone. You've probably established I support Hull City (the Tigers, but NOT Hull City Tigers OR Hull Tigers) in football, but what else might I mention to confuse you? My favourite programme in the world is Aussie daytime soap Neighbours. Huge fan of Fake or Fortune (Fiona Bruce and co, simply hilarious). Bergerac is one of my fave series ever. When I'm not reading the Good Beer Guide (if you can 'read' it), I'll probably either be reading a P G Wodehouse novel, the latest theory on Jack the Ripper or some Tudor historical based thing. Music wise, I love punk rock but I love mentioning stuff I grew up listening to before I was a harsh punk like Billy Joel, Beautiful South, Queen, Kate Bush, Belinda Carlisle, James Taylor, Everly Brothers, even Dire Straits which I like to hear in GBG pubs . Problem is, songs like "Do They Owe Us A Living?" by Crass, "Cunt of a Bitch" by Hank Williams III and "I'm a Tumour (For You)" by the Gaggers just aren't on enough Ember Inn playlists.
So there we go. Plenty more I've missed I'm sure, any you notice, please comment below and I'll do my best to explain.