Monday 30 July 2018

BRAPA - Airing my Dirty Washington in Public

Accurate representation of drinkers in Washington 'Spoons

It is 'laundry' I know, but I was desperate for a blog title so you'll just have to accept it.

So here I was, ready to complete Tyne & Wear.  Six pubs left to do.  But can we call it 'Wear & Tyne' please?  After all, Sunderland is better than Newcastle.  More on that in part two.  And also, as the famous saying I've just made up goes "Wear before Tyne, leaves you feeling fine.  Tyne before Wear, leaves you sick of beer".  Snappy, eh?

Washington was the key morning destination.  I was hungover from a night on the Coors & Corona at a Work's Do, my knee (which I promise not to mention) was improving now I had a knee support on, but as a bloke from Rotherham commented, walking around with shorts and a knee support gave me an element of the Keith Lemon in my demeanour.  Not a look I was going for.

Having said that, as I took a bus from Heworth Interchange (hey Rochdale, some Interchanges are where they are supposed to be!) to Concord bus station (a new northerly bit of Washington) in the pouring rain, I looked like a proper Tim Martin devotee as I hobbled in at 9:30am .......

It's raining, it's pouring, Wetherspoons is calling

1443 / 2189.  Sir William de Wessyngton, Washington

So the week had it's second 'Spoons, and another nice low roofed unpretentious effort, just like they all should be.  My health giving pint of Workie Ticket was served with a big head, which I didn't feel the need to ask to be topped up.  I'm in the North East, I'd paid £1.49 and been called 'darling'.  I'm no southerner, I know the drill.  There was a buzz about the place not just caused by two old blokes slipping into comas at regular intervals, but a selection of racegoers off to Blaydon or wherever modern day Geordies and Mackems do their horsing.  The suited men were fairly standard clones of York and Chester, but the ladies were something else.   Fashions and styles you applaud in 'Spoons, but would never make the Channel 4 ladies day at Ascot televised cut.  It filled up too, a man with headphones sang dreadfully to himself, a twild in full frog costume hopped past me ribbiting in 'cameo of the day', and a succession of elderly gents failed to get to grips with the complexities of the coffee machine, which allowed self service and unlimited re-fills.  A fine invention by Timmy lad, as we all remember the days where you could be queuing in 'Spoons  for hours for a pint because the coffee breakfast scum monopolised the bar space.  So who was Sir William de Wessyngton then?  Well, he was a Norman knight who loved a bit of crack in 'Spoons, an ale drinker, but his ancestors moved to the U S of A, because they preferred Bud Light to Big Lamp.  Sad but true.  Probably.   A good week for 'Spoons then after the Regal Moon success, another good example in the chain.

Spot the non racegoer

Blokes try to work out the coffee machine

Headphones man loved a good sing song


Gin scrabble and even though it is 9:30am, I'm not the first person to sit here

Ashamed of his ancestors probably

I'd had to nurse my pint in the Sir William, for pub two didn't open til 11am and although it was a good 40 minute trek, I thought in light of the weather and knee I don't like to talk about, a quick bus ride down through Washington to an area called Biddick or something, where the Arts Centre is.  Yes, it wouldn't be a Tyne & Wear BRAPA day without a trip to some kind of Arts Centre or other.

It is this-a-way
 10:55am when I arrived, and turned right under an archway to the errrm Courtyard area, where the fittingly named 'Courtyard' pub was.  It was as dead as a door nail.  Across the yard, I spied a potential micro pub .....

I knew it wasn't really a micropub, but use of the word 'crafty', a comedy cow, some misjudged artwork within, and the poky building which housed it meant it had many of the hallmarks of a Hiller Award Winner.  The staff who were supervising some painting twild life looked a bit concerned by my presence, but seeing from their point of view, I'm probably lucky I wasn't placed on the Wearside Sex Offenders register (the worst sex offenders register to be on) by now. 

After a few more minutes sheltering under various awnings, I peered in through the front door of the dead looking Courtyard hoping it wasn't a 12 noon opener (Whatpub actually said 10am!) when a lively pink haired lass appeared and unlocked the door .....

1444/2190.  Courtyard, Washington

I apologised if I'd appeared to be impatient to get in (even though I was, yet still only 11:04am I noticed!) and I was handed over to a rather stressed out colleague of hers, puffing & panting, who, through endearing braces on her teeth, told me she'd had a bad morning but was amazed the place wasn't already full of pensioners demanding coffee & cake.  I nearly told her they were all in 'Spoons struggling to operate the machine.  She was amazed just to find change in the till when I came to pay with a £10 note.  True, Twitter legend Matthew Lawrenson had an incident today where a pub actually lost the till and had to reimburse him from the tip jar, so you can't take these things for granted!  Eight ales were on, mainly micros so I scanned them for a brewery I'd been recommended by a Mackem mate, but couldn't see it, so got something with a North East sounding name.  Sadly, my ale was on poor form well before the midway point, poorest pint of the day by far and really should have exchanged it, vinegar by the end.  Speaking of which, as much as I appreciated the cosy, friendly, laid back set up here, it didn't quite recreate the 'Exchange' in North Shields for arty real ale joy.  A complex wander to the loo was interesting, as a bloke was stood in the foyer simply staring at a blank wall, but smiling.  I'll never understand art!   I was then recommended a Geordie comedian who's on tour, described by Ross Noble as being a bit like Geoff from Byker Grove.  Back in the bar, a plasma screen proudly displaying the current GBG was leaving me feeling conflicted.  The quietness allowed me to listen in on anecdote of the day, between the two barmaids.  An old woman in a local Metro station had taken a twig from her bag, started waving it about, and then told everyone it was Harry Potter's wand.  My brain couldn't take much more.  Time to go.

Great BM, shame about the ale.

The only other customer was an old man, here we are chillin'

Note GBG on plasma
 It was a 27 minute walk in a straight line north to my final Washington pub.  I was flying low.  I realised when an old man and his greyhound scowled at my crotch.  And then, all at once, my phone started ringing and it was only Twitter's own 'John Depeche Modem'.  He sounded like he was being attacked by seagulls, but explained he was on a beach in Sussex, Wittering (appropriately enough!) and had tried to like my Tweet about the fake micropub incident, but it hadn't worked, and was worried the Russians had intercepted it or something.  Anyway, after a nice chat including Luton, Rotherham and me being on the right side of the Pennines for once, I told him I was lost and had to go so I could look at my map.

I was only a minute away, I'd walked straight past it, but here we were, and it looked not like a Wetherspoons or an Arts Centre, but an old pub.  How novel. 

Look at its cute little face!

1445 / 2191 Steps, Wahington

And what a beautiful pub this was, situated on Spout Lane, I think it should keep the pre 1976 name of Spout Lane Inn, it'd suit it more.  It had the classic features, a green toilet door that looked like it was made from human skin, some gorgeous tiled flooring, stained glass, multi rooms, and just a few moody looking old married couples who'd long since ran out of conversation.  But something had to irritate me, and it was the young barman.  A floppy haired upstart from the get go, one of those punchable faces that seems to permanently smirk in a "I'm winning at life, you ain't" kind of way.  I'd been tempted by some interesting local stouts in pubs one and two, so I finally caved in and ordered one.  Well, I don't know if he'd had the Guinness 'good things come to those who wait' training, for he left it half poured, and went off to chop limes, to the point both me and the big lad next to me thought he'd just absent-mindedly forgotten.  Finally, he walked back past it, smirked at me, stood behind a door and chatted for a few more seconds, and eventually topped it up.  It probably only equated to about 3 minutes, but it felt like an eternity.  My mood was lifted by three blokes, the only voices in the pub, one, the chief raconteur was the sweariest bloke in BRAPA history, beating a guy in Seven Stars, Stithians, for the most 'fucks' in a ten minute period,so to speak.   In between all the 'gannin', 'ayes', 'alreets' and 'hoying stuff into the back of a Land Rover', it was fuck this, fuck that, culminating in him falling into a ditch (in the story, not in the pub) and everyone taking photos of him where he, you guessed it, called them all 'fucking fuckers'.  The fact it was all told under a music video of Freddie Mercury camping it up in 'The Great Pretender', followed by a skin tight Rod Stewart, just brought the whole thing into disrepute.  Marvellous pub this one. 

Great, but was it worth the wait?

Human skin probably

If you fell drunkenly forwards, but also in reverse, this might be the last thing you see

The lads who really brought the party to the Steps
Well, the day was still young.  Plenty to do, and I had a bus station which was about 20 mins walk away to get to.  How big was Washington anyway? 

Join me tomorrow night for more crazy tales of North Eastern pub life.



  1. I can't be bothered to read it all tonight but your drawing is fab (as a Twild would say) and anyone who buys Workie Ticket is alright with me.

  2. Slow golf clap for the title. And well done not forgetting the 'l' in 'public'. ;)

    " Not a look I was going for."

    As mentioned in the previous post, see this:

    "I looked like a proper Tim Martin devotee as I hobbled in at 9:30am"

    I'm confused. Is that because you're 'hob nobbing' or that you're there as soon as it opens? :)

    "but would never make the Channel 4 ladies day at Ascot televised cut."

    What about Daily Mail photos? ;)

    "and a succession of elderly gents failed to get to grips with the complexities of the coffee machine"

    Now that's more like a Tim Martin devotee.*

    * You will have guessed by now I'm assuming Tim Martin is Retired Martin. (LOL)

    "Sad but true. Probably. "

    You lost me at crack. :)

    "It was as dead as a door nail."

    I've never quite understood that expression.

    "so you can't take these things for granted!"

    The two of you are my kindred spirits. :)

    "Great BM, shame about the ale."

    Ahhh. And here was me thinking you were commenting on your visit to the loo. :)

    "and had tried to like my Tweet about the fake micropub incident, but it hadn't worked,"

    You should have told him not to have a cow. (Simpson's reference) :)

    "a green toilet door that looked like it was made from human skin,"

    Orion skin surely. (Star Trek reference.) ;)

    "Finally, he walked back past it, smirked at me, stood behind a door and chatted for a few more seconds, and eventually topped it up."

    Ugh. These are the times when just a getting a bottle seem to be justified. :(

    "Marvellous pub this one. "

    High praise considering the bloody bartender. :)

    "Join me tomorrow night for more crazy tales of North Eastern pub life."

    Or, more likely, afternoon for me. :)


    PS - "So the week had it's second 'Spoons"

    No apostrophe dear boy.

  3. t'Spoons, since it's northern.

  4. Oddly the Smoggy racegoers were going to the infested shit tip that is York. I've always imagined that North Easterners would watch their nags doing headless chicken impressions at Redcar or Hexham, though there is a less well know course at Newcastle. I quite agree that the ladies are something else and far superior in every sense to the snobs you get at places like Ascot and York, especially the Mackem ones.

    I took a whole to work out the 'great BM' caption.

    Has your knee fallen off yet? Are you Jimmy Bullard?