Wednesday 14 November 2018

BRAPA - Septic Legs & Calypso Dregs (From Darlo to Glasgow I Go-Go)

Sloans, Glasgow (Pub 1383)

I've been waiting for life to settle down since about mid September, but what with London x3, a late Good Beer Guide release putting pressure on the cross-ticking, a Dorset holiday, a gammy knee, man flu, Project Calypso, Hull City, friends turning 40, becoming an honourary godfather, Hallowe'en and Bonfire Night, it has been a crazy two months like no other!

And the scene got no less hectic on the week commencing 5th Nov.

Sussex's favourite Twitter son, JohnDepecheModem, was up in the Northallerton staying at his legendary £20 a night pub (bring your own bog roll, unblock your own sink) and it was important we met up before he headed back down south and I went on a work trip to Glasgow.

Darlington seemed the thinking man's choice (perhaps a sentence you will never hear again) though I was delayed as a drunk Geordie threatened everyone on the train at L**ds and had to be detained at her majesty's pleasure. "He won't see Newcastle tonight, ho ho!" boomed the conductor over the tannoy.  He was loving life.

The micropub didn't open Tuesday (do they ever?) sadly so I only had one Darlo' tick to go at so I instructed John to meet me there:

Mole in the Wall? 
1382 / 2355.  Hole in the Wall, Darlington

John had just finished his grub and was seated to the left of the bar as expected, his BRAPA debut in fact as he'd only met me in York Tap previously,  and as we said hello and debated what ales to order, you could see the staff weighing us up like "have they met on some real ale Grindr or something?"  John joked he wanted half a Doom Bar, but then ordered half an Aspull Cider to go with his array of various halves.  Interesting drinking strategy.  I must say the ale in here was spot on, and I had 3 pints, all different.  The barmaid was a canny gem, but the pub itself really lacked something in the way of cosy atmosphere.  Especially a shame when you think of other Darlo classics in recent years that have wowed me - I'm thinking Old Vic, Quakerhouse, Half Moon, Brittania and the Snooker Club - amazing places.  Cheap prices.  Giving folk.  A superb day out if you like old pubs.  But no matter, John is as mad as a box of frogs that have been trained up by Arsene Wenger, and was worth the admission fee alone, showing off his ulcerated ankle, pointing out he'd come out in his slippers and no one noticed, reckoning I dyed my hair darker (cheek of it!), reflecting the youth of today would call him 'gammon', and other tales that even BRAPA can't repeat without a lawyer present!  Was a really top session, but didn't want to leave too late as had an early train to Glasgow in the morning .......

Ulcerated evidence

Slipper evidence

John makes his pub ticking debut


Books chilling on a bookcase (like they do)

John at the bar

Fast forward less than 24 hours and me and Britain's most pro-active project leader and all round great gal Cathie West were in Glasgow, mainly to 'put faces to names' (love that excuse for a trip out) and learn what our new helpdesks would do apart from advising us "have you tried turning it off and on again?"   The project may've 'gone live' on 22nd Oct but believe me, as the kids say on Twitter, 'The Calypso Struggle is real'.

Now I'm not saying Glaswegians like a drink (they fucking love one, wahey!), but BRAPA had captivated the masses and we'd soon enlisted three people to join us on our three pub evening crawl.  

These were great guy who's in a band, John.  When I was down in London, I made it sound like his band are called 'John'.  They are called Start Static.  Look em up, they rawk.  Secondly, we had project legend Alistair.  And thirdly, we'll call her MCM as I can't spell her Scottish double-barrelled name, but she's great too.  We nearly had a fourth, a Miss McGarva, but she said if she drinks 3 wines she goes a bit crazy.  2 wines & 10 gin & tonics is fine though.    

Our first pub was the one that had sounded most agreeable to all I talked to, and it was closest to the office, so we went there first:

Me, Cathie & John ready for a drink

1383 / 2356.  Sloans, Glasgow

SLOANS!  SLOANS!  SLOANS!  Screamed every archway, wall, doorway, mirror and tiled floor.  Okay, we get it, you don't get the Convivial Rabbit doing this.  We wandered down an illuminated cobbled courtyard with Scottish phrases on the walls, so I thought this was my time to shine with my Scottish accent.  "Needs more work" agreed John and MCM.  Suitably chastened, I stepped inside and it was a nice mixture of the calming old and the vibrant modern, with one of those horseshoe or circular shaped bars you see a lot in Scotland cos no one can bear to be more than one metre from a bar at any given time.   Finding ales wasn't so easy, eventually I saw two pumps squirrelled away and John got the round in like the gent he is.  The ale (Carte Noir) was dark, rich and top quality, but seating was sparse so we went out into the courtyard with lots of jokes about whether me & Cathie could brave outdoor Scottish drinking, but it was heated anyway, and the session soon became a BRAPA Q&A, which I never mind!  "I like it here, it's a bit like Angel in Leeds" said Cathie to which I replied "hmmmm sort of".  More Whitelocks, we later agreed.  Alistair who'd been working late eventually showed up, MCM did the highlighting, and we were finally relaxed into our drinks.  "Oooh it's nice here, shall we stay for another?" they all asked as one.  "Sorry all, but gotta stick to BRAPA rules...." I replied, who did they think they were, Bernard Gerald Everitt?  No getting comfy in one pub thank you very much, not on my watch.  Now answer Mudgie's survey again and THIS time get it right!

Hasty entrance shot as someone was holding door open for me

Man grabs Listerine from top shelf, it's gonna be a good night

Consider yourself one of the BRAPA bar stars of the year

MCM does some highlighting
On the way to pub two, Alistair wondered if his special orange order tourist umbrella would get him into trouble, but he's from Southampton so you have to expect this type of behaviour.  We were at a humongous 'Spoons before I knew it!

Alistair and his umbrella

Ready for pub two!
1384 / 2357.  Counting House, Glasgow

"Urrr why d'ye wanna go there?" said everyone in the office.  Well, maybe I take my banking more seriously than everyone else, but I love going in 'Spoons former banks as grand as this.  Okay, so it was a former Bank of Scotland (spit!) unlike the wonderful Archibald Simpson (Clydesdale!) in Aberdeen, but even amidst the hustle and bustle of the evening city rabble, you could look up, admire the beautiful domed roof, imagine Victorian clerks beavering away with inkwells and ledgers, and in a church like way, there were figures hanging from the awnings.  Cathie and her dirty mind reckoned one was playing with himself, though she didn't actually say that.  At the bar, I tried to find the loo but I must've said it in a ladylike high pitched way cos a blind woman heard me, and directed me to the ladies.  I told her I'd talk more like THIS in the future and growled in her ear which was totally uncalled for.  I was on an ale called Hoppopotamus that Alistair recommended and it was a delight, and again superb quality.  Not sure why but wasn't expecting great beer in Central Glasgow.  We had to all stand around a mini circular table which wasn't ideal for my ever-improving leg, which as I told everyone at the time, I don't really like to talk about.

At the bar

What IS that thing?

Has your Spoons got a roof dome like this?

John's turn to get his debut tick (p.s. Start Static new album was out on Friday)

We said farewell at this point to MCM, who was far too much of a professional to stay out for pub three, but we ploughed on regardless.

Our final pub was the only one of these actually in last years GBG, but when we mentioned it around the office, no one had heard of it!  Did that mean it was very good or very bad?

Me & Alistair under the red neon loveliness 

1385 / 2358.  Raven, Glasgow

I guess that whilst I didn't as such 'dislike' this place, it seemed to struggle to find its niche or any kind of identity in the Glasgow pub scene.  That was my impression and despite staying here longest (last of night, so 3 pints!) the others generally felt it was the weakest.  The pub sign wasn't nice, it felt a bit like a scroaty doss house trying to be clean and foodie, most folk were only really interested in European football which surprisingly was Man Utd rather than one of the giants of the Scottish game.  Look, BRAPA is doing tongue-in-cheek.  The pub was obsessed with signs referring to c*ld beer.  Perhaps I was being slow, but John explained to me it didn't mean the word 'cold' was rude, it was supposed to be an ice symbol!  I'll never get Scottish humour apart from Rab C Nesbitt and that mad druggie guy.  "Ah, look, a nice cow and a pig" said Cathie, looking above us.  John had to explain this too, the 'cow' was actually a pig with a hat on!  It was hilarious at the time, trust me.  All my ales were excellent again even if they did push the handled jugs a bit too much, prefer nonic or straight mi sen, but ye gotta roll with the punches in this game.  I'd been to the loo only once since lunchtime, yet in here, I went FIVE times.  Oh dear!  

Teamwork as John & Cathie hold the page so Alistair can tick

Pig disguised as a cow

C*ld beer, the new Dirty L**ds
So that was all very good.  Off to the shops for some late night snacks, ugh couldn't manage any black pudding at Doubletree the next morning, but two more meetings and then for the arduous journey back home.  

Thanks to all.  Can life settle down a bit now?  Well, there were only two days til another trip to Brum so no.  I'll tell you about that tomorrow night if you can stay awake.  




  1. Can't be bothered to read it after pic of John's sceptic (sceptical ?) Leg.

    1. I don't think many readers will have the constitution to get past that!

    2. I have an irritating patch of eczema on my left shin, but nothing like that #SkinConfessions

  2. I made it past the eczema to find a superb paragraph that sums up corporate projects. God you nailed it.

  3. "I've been waiting for life to settle down since about mid September"

    Mid September? Try two bloody years ago! :)

    "Darlington seemed the thinking man's choice (perhaps a sentence you will never hear again)"

    My saintly mother (bless her heart) lives on Darlington Crescent. ;)

    "Mole in the Wall? "

    My thought exactly!

    ""have they met on some real ale Grindr or something?""

    LOL! Actually, when you think about it, you (and Martin et. al.) do resemble Grindr in the sense you have a pint and then bugger off to the next hook up. :)

    "showing off his ulcerated ankle"

    I am sooo glad I haven't had my dinner yet!

    "Was a really top session, but didn't want to leave too late as had an early train to Glasgow in the morning ......."

    A good juxtapose to Mudgie's "Should I stay or should I go" post when you think about it. ;)

    "Slipper evidence"

    Is that the UK version of Walmart people?

    "Britain's most pro-active project leader and all round great gal "

    Brown noser. :)

    "2 wines & 10 gin & tonics is fine though."

    There's a Confucius saying in there somewhere.

    "cos no one can bear to be more than one metre from a bar at any given time."

    Or, they can't bear to be within one metre of each other. ;)

    " Now answer Mudgie's survey again and THIS time get it right!"

    Yes, but... you did that with John at Mole in the Wall. :)

    "Alistair wondered if his special orange order tourist umbrella would get him into trouble"

    That reminds me of the cheap 'hat umbrella' that I ordered thru Amazon a year ago. It came from China. I'm too embarrassed to wear it. (blush)

    "Well, maybe I take my banking more seriously than everyone else, but I love going in 'Spoons former banks as grand as this."

    (slow golf clap)

    "which wasn't ideal for my ever-improving leg"

    Good lord! At this rate your 'ever-improving leg' is going to have you like the Six Million Dollar Man eventually! :)

    "What IS that thing?"

    He's not playing with himself, that's a rifle.
    (of course, in a technical sense that could be incorrect... i.e. 'this is my rifle, this is my gun') :)

    "(last of night, so 3 pints!)"

    What's that about Mudgie's survey again? :)

    "I'd been to the loo only once since lunchtime, yet in here, I went FIVE times."

    Pfft. Si, that's a standard the world over mate. You can hold out but, once you start, it's basically a 'pint a pee' so to speak. ;)

    "I'll tell you about that tomorrow night if you can stay awake. "

    The beauty of reading this 'online' is no one knows if you've napped in the interim. :)


    PS - "actually in last years GBG"

    In this instance apostrophe is your friend. :)

  4. What IS that thing?

    Russ is probably mistaken - it's an umbrella - like Alistairs...

    Epic adventures in Glasgow... not to mention Darlington...:)

    Very relieved to note that going to the pub in yours slippers is the new trend though...will stand me in good stead when I'm (slightly) older...and forget to put my shoes on... dribble on the chin ok...?