Sunday 27 January 2019

BRAPA - Disposable Camera, Not Disposable CAMRA : Darton to Mapplewell

Friday morning, the train to work, and like a total idiot, I'd put my phone into my wrong bag and didn't have it with me.  "Oh well, that is Friday night BRAPA cancelled" I reflected. 

But hang on, I thought, the pub tickers of yesteryear couldn't rely on Google Maps, train apps and camera phones to get themselves around.  How did Taylor & Mackay get themselves to Netherton in 1974?  It doesn't matter, but they did.  Surely I could manage with modern technology for one night?  I just had to pretend it was the 1990's all over again. 

I printed off two maps, looked up some train times, and thanks to one bright spark at work, went down to Boots (this retro chemist if you've not heard of it) at lunchtime for a disposable camera.  I didn't even know they still made them!  The girl at the counter blushed when I asked, and blurted out "but....but.... when you want it developing, you'll need to go to BIG Boots, we don't do THAT here!"

Destination Darton

Come 4pm, and armed with my swashbuckling bag of tricks and a metaphorical flask of weak lemon drink, I headed for the darklands of North Barnsley, Darton to be precise.  It had a railway station, a micro, and Mapplewell was a 20 minute walk which also had a micro.   My Darton debut, place had a homely pleasant feel.

And not a bad area to be with a disposable camera I figured, pretty sure if said Apple or Windows to someone in these parts, they'd think of a round green fruit or something that you peer through at your sexy cousin.

My map of Darton
It is hard to 'map-read' when you've been used to following yourself as a blue dot for the last five years, I was so out of practice, and had no idea if I was walking in the right direction until I saw the pub across the road .....

I pressed the 'flash button' on the front of the camera, a red light came on with a low squeaking noise, I peered into the tiny shutter, a large click and flash of light, I'd taken a photo!  And no-one had seen.  Hurrah.  I wound on the film triumphantly and prepared to enter .....

1468 / 2438.  Old Co-op Ale House, Darton

The door was unnecessarily stiff, and made that annoying shop door noise as you enter.  A dark haired lady near the fire chuckled as I struggled to get in, she did this with every other customer too and I wondered if this was the pub Martin "RM" Taylor thought was shut when it was in fact open.  A smiley young tall bloke served me a pint of good ole' fashioned Acorn Barnsley Bitter.  I thought £3.40 was a bit steep for this part of the world  They had these homebrews on called 'Grumpys' but not sure I trusted them.  A beer bore asked him about a recent pub award win and what beers had he brought back from some visit, the answer was, thrillingly, Cappuccino something and Espresso something else.  "Haha, like your coffee beers then!" replied Mrs Bore, but I'd realised I was still brandishing my disposable camera which was stranger still.   Sadly, the cosy wood burner was being monopolised by chuckling brunette and her mate, and two blokes on another table.  So I sat at the chilly far end, so I could take an indoor snap or two.  Then I realised I didn't have a pen, so had to scribble notes using my green highlighter.  I felt like Bear Grylls.  This was BRAPA in Ultimate Survival mode.   What I thought was a schoolgirl coming in to use the bogs turned out to be a barmaid starting a shift, and is so often the case when the staff are baby faced, they decided to ID this young lad with his Dad despite the fact he was definitely a #PubMan of the future.  But he kept giving me the 'irrits' (as we say in Australia) by looking at my camera in a weird way.  I took a few snaps which I'll get developed next week.  Not much else happened, was a bit chilly, but I feel this place did have something going for it, but micropubs suffer in January even more than other months.

BRAPA notes : gonna put them on eBay for £500 if you're interested

I'd got my bearings and worked out which road led to Mapplewell, though I hadn't factored in the darkness of the evening so my map was next to useless, and I had a crisis of confidence when it all became a bit rural half way down!  Was about a 20 minute walk, and I realised that my phone acts as a kind of comfort blanket / reassurance device as much as anything!

I knew I was on the right track when I saw the Talbot pub, for I'd done this one a few years back.  It was rather dining led, but is in that Pete Brown blokes book of 100 best pubs, not cos it is (not even top 1000), but because he grew up here so it means something to him. 

I finally located pub two, another Micro, not so lucky this time as a young lady in the window saw me take the photo of the pub front (damn micros and those huge glass windows!) and told her boyfriend 'ey up, a weirdo is about to enter'.

Map of Mapplewell, next to useless

1469 / 2439.  Old Bakery, Mapplewell

And if I was off to a losing start from the moment I arrived, it was all downhill from there.  Circumstances seemed to stack up against me to make this a miserable BRAPA experience.  Was the pub so bad?   Perhaps not.  Limited yes, but had I gone in on a quiet afternoon with sun shining in, perhaps I'd have found it a lot more positive, I mean let's be charitable.  But not too much.  The barmaids (including one with newly dyed pink hair and crazy fake lashes) seemed like they could at a push be a hospitable bubbly duo.  It soon became clear no seats were available and I'd have to perch at the bar.  So, in micropubs, doesn't that mean you are 'involved' in the conversation then?  Well, the one local in the same predicament as me had a recent voicebox installed, said he was glad to get his voice back, but had to push down on this button on his neck so much, conversation looked likely to be a struggle for him.  At least he winked and mimed 'cheers!' which was more than I got from most.  When the BM's weren't being friendly to the locals, they were looking at dog pictures on one of those modern bloody smartphone things(!)  "Awww, he looks like Chewbacca!" remarked one.  "Haha, well not sure about that, but definitely a Wookie" replied the other, which even a non Star Wars enthusiast like me found a bit bizarre.  Plan B, I plonked the GBG on the bar and theatrically highlighted it!  That often provokes a reaction.  No, simply accentuated my weird isolation.  Even the bogs upset me, or the tap to be precise.  You had to wave your hand across a sensor to get water out.  Took me 5 mins to fathom it out, upsetting!  Oh, and don't forget two identical ladies with short grey hair, asking for peanuts, and opening them at the bar.  Ok, so they don't know about my allergy but it felt like they were doing it deliberately at the time!  Three quarters of the way down my pint, a really nice personable bloke (the bloke I wanted to be) offered me a seat "if you don't mind dogs".  I told him thanks but no twoggin' thanks.  Then, he had a laugh about gin with forest fruits and bought both barmaids a drink.  "That's so kind" everyone agreed, embracing his effortless benevolence.  By now, I was a twisted wreck who wanted to kill him.  I muttered goodbye to a regular stood behind me, and slunk out, never to return.

I couldn't even bring myself to get an indoor photo in that pub of my contorted face. How did people do Selfies in the old days on disposable cameras?  Did they?  And if so, were they missing out? 

At least there was a more positive note to end the night on.  I was early for the train and I'd seen something called the Darton Tap which I felt looked pre-emptive, so I shimmied on in for a quick half.  Quite a cosy lively place really, beer just as good as the other two, it even had a decent stab at bench seating and plenty of folk who smiled at me.  Darton 1-0 Mapplewell.  With me at a stool and everyone deep in conversation and facing away from me, time to try an indoor photo.  The flash wasn't on, so I aimed towards the bar, to take a general shot.  Suddenly, a huge flash, a loud click and whirr, and all the old blokes at the bar turn around.  "Am so sorry!" I squeaked.  "Ey up lad, it's arite" replies the spokesman, much to my relief.  

I ran out towards the railway station, hoping I never have to step foot inside a BRAPA pub with a disposable camera ever again! 



  1. Can I bid £5 for the BRAPA notes and have the money put towards the Old Co-Op getting a door that works ? Did you seriously not know that was the pub where I got the hump because the owner sat by the fire laughing as I thought the door was shut the other week ?

    Worldweary of Waterbeach.

    1. I honestly didn't! I knew it was a South Yorks micro but it was only when I got stuck in the door that your blog came back to me. Why do TWAMRA taunt us with these places?

  2. Oh you did that Darton Tap then ? When it gets in GBG20 will you consider it ticked or have to go back ?

    Trying to imagine what I'd have thought going in Ma Pardoes when I was 9 in 1974 (or even the Star in Northumbrian Netherton which was even weirder). Would have been traumatised.

    1. Yes, I did it as a pre-emptive so would count it as ticked, as for Netherton, are there TWO famous pubs? I didn't even know which Netherton I really meant! Not done either am sad to say.

  3. The Northumbrian one is where Raul Mote hid out, only even more remote.
    The Landlady is 107 and can only serve real ale when her daughter is around to lift the jug (I think) so not in current GBG. Think it's an old barrel of York Guzzler she got from Wales.

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