Friday 9 November 2018

BRAPA - New Brighton : The Only Way is Sup (Yazz & the Plastic Scouse Population) Part 1 of 2

When Yazz penned the original lyrics to "The Only Way is Up", what most people don't know is that she was actually writing about a difficult period of pub ticking in the West Midlands:

"Now we may not know, huh 
Where our next ale is coming from
But with you by my side 
I'll face what is to come
Beer Guide I want to thank you
Yeah, for guiding me this way 
Things may be a little hard now 
But we'll find a brighter day
Oh, yeah
(Holdens) holdens 
(Holdens) holdens 
Ooh, ooh ooh" etc etc
It makes me well up even now, and it will definitely feature on the second BRAPA album '"Where the Twild Things Are", a compilation of songs to inspire the pub ticker.
But enough of my convivial rabbit (as they say in Dorset), as we (me, Tom and Father BRAPA) arrived in New Brighton on an icy cold morning, it was actually snowing back in York.  
After a brief incident in WHSmiths involving a Christening card and a disputed 1p coin, our resolve was tested further when the first pub just didn't open.
Stage Door Twap, definitely not 11am opening.

Everything (GBG, WhatPub, Internet) indicated 11am, but when I peered in through one of the doors, I saw a 12 noon opening sign.  Arrrgghh.  IT WAS SO COLD!  We'd be back.  

For now, a bus was taken across town to a pub that really did open at 11.  And an outer door was open.  Relief.  

1370 / 2343.  Stanley's Cask, New Brighton

Just to be warm and inside a pub seemed all the mattered really, but reality soon set in!  Where were the staff to serve us?  But, rising from beneath the bar with a hacking cough, our woman-flu suffering barmaid rose to serve us.  I peered behind the bar, expecting to see steps or a ladder down to a small vertical cellar, but I couldn't!  Was it possible she'd just been laying down on the floor?   We sympathised and I ordered Big Bog beer because the name makes me chuckle, and I associate them with that amazing Masonic pub near the airport.  The first customer behind us, Gordy, a local old bloke, came in with a similar hacking cough.  Tom reminded us he hadn't been ill for a while, and we were amazed to find this was the truth, but plenty of winter pubbing for him to pass on those Claggy germs.    The next customer set the scene for the day, he wore blue gloves, and he shimmied in with the exact same 'Scouser' walk made famous by Harry Enfield, turned and waved to us, and actually pirouetted to the bar.  If I could've videoed one moment from today, this it'd be it, it'd have been a ten from Len and that camp Italian chap.  Nice pub, great ale, bit nautically themed with slogans like "Wanton Women Will Be Whipped" but don't tell Twitter.  

A short walk across town took us to the edge of the coast/river/whatever you call it on the Wirral.  Now, in Cambs last week, Martin Taylor did a little celebration when he saw I'd been coming here.  He said it was a great pub but he didn't mention the decisive point, the "B" word .....

1371 / 2344. Magazine Hotel, New Brighton

I wasn't sure I could enjoy this more than the Stanley Cask, but it was immediate obvious that this was a classic.  A very traditional understated jewel in the crown of Merseyside pub ticking.  The young barman was a welcoming quiet young lad, with elements of all the nicest bits of Adam Johnson and Ant McPartlin rolled into a red triangle of Bass joy.  Well I HAD to get it.  Dad followed my lead.  Tom's Blackcurrant squash was probably amazing too.  It was top quality, Bass isn't always, but my last few have been well on form.  The fact it was served in a faded Doom Bar glass somehow afforded the situation a perfect symmetry that a Bass glass couldn't have.  In our little corner watching joggers, bikers and selfie taking couple getting splashed by the choppy icy Mersey waters lapping over onto the road opposite only made you feel more snug, though these outdoor folk didn't flinch.  Closest you'll get to a wash on Merseyside?  I couldn't comment.  Then a gaggle of old duffers came in, ALL ordered Bass, and sat behind us making jokey comments that you'd have to be local to understand.  Great experience.

The corner in which we sat

The perfect symmetry 
As we waited for the bus outside, Dad had a quick walk down to look across the Mersey at the Cunard, I think.  And it should be noted that somehow, in all the mayhem of the last pub, money saver extraordinaire Tom admitted that he thought it'd be worthwhile kidnapping someone for a 50p ransom.  So now you know.  

Onto pub three then, and it was a short ride down to Liscard but important that we used buses where possible as my knee (which I don't like to mention) was still far from 100% but improving.

1372 / 2345.  Lazy Landlord Ale House, Liscard

It doesn't seem long ago that I was discussing Micropubs with the locals in Pilchard Press Alehouse in St Ives, Cornwall (then pre-emptive, now GBG proper) and when I asked if it was the only micropub in Cornwall, someone mentioned this one!  D'oh!  And now, here I was, in Liscard, not Liskeard.  I've said it before and I'll say in again, I think micropubs work better in Merseyside than any other part of the UK in my (limited) experience, and this was a cracker.  The landlord was far from 'lazy', such a hard worker, nice man, no theatrics like they sometimes do in such places, just had that 'still' quality, like when Glyn Hodges bossed Hull City's midfield for 10 games in '98, only less podgy or moody.  And what else I loved about it were the ales, things like Joseph Holt Bitter which I got in a Bass glass!  Which incidentally, worked better than a faded Doom Bar glass would've done on this occasion.  Seems the locals prefer the tried & tested brews than the experimental types you often see in micros.  Most in here were knocking on the gates of hell.  The pub even had Bass playing cards, a decent GBG range,  allotment socials and the bog was twinned with a bog in Uganda.  It really was a joy, and ran Magazine close for pub of the day which is no mean feat.  

Surely the day couldn't get any better?  Course it bloody couldn't!  Join me on Sunday to watch it all unravel.  But for now, time to prepare for Hull City's win at Brum tomorrow!



  1. I think micropubs work better in Thanet than any other part of the UK.

    1. Been waiting for Kent to fall into the sea, but it hasn't happened yet, can't put it off forever, but a nice man has now volunteered to drive me round East Kent so maybe won't be so bad. Where were you at Birmingham? ;)

  2. "on the second BRAPA album '"Where the Twild Things Are""

    You nicked that from a book. ;)

    "bit nautically themed with slogans like "Wanton Women Will Be Whipped" but don't tell Twitter. "

    Not sure how that's nautical; but it's definitely alliterative. :)

    "The perfect symmetry "

    They're definitely not shy about advertising the "B" beer on the outside.

    "as my knee (which I don't like to mention) was still far from 100% but improving."

    I give it another week and that knee will be ready to enter the Guinness Book of Records!

    "and the bog was twinned with a bog in Uganda."

    I didn't even know toilet twinning was a thing!
    (sadly I don't think anyone's man enough to twin with yours Si) ;)

    "Join me on Sunday to watch it all unravel."

    (Si-gh) :(


    1. I notice this a lot with "B" pubs. You don't see Doom Bar seeling pubs advertising on the outside of their buildings with quite the same level on enthusiasm. Funny that!

      I didn't know toilet twinning was a thing either, but now I know, I'm getting the official BRAPA bog twinned with the one on Maidenhead Conservative Club. (I mean 'in' but as I wrote 'on', maybe there is one on roof like the Pheasant in Keyston).

  3. Hmm, something funny seems to have happened to your formatting here - it looks even worse on the mobile version!

    To be pedantic, Yazz didn't write "The Only Way Is Up" - it was a cover version. Incidentally, Yazz is less than a year younger than me. Feeling old yet?

    1. Ooops I wonder what happened there then? Scouse gremlins in the system no doubt. Wow, I though Yazz wrote it, nothing is sacred. I always imagine her to be about 40 years old, just like you Mudge ;)