Tuesday 4 January 2022


If you remember part 1 (which I wrote sometime towards the end of 2021 which was like, SO last year), you'd know that the first three pubs I'd visited on that fateful pre-Christmas Saturday were fantastic, probably best described in 1960's Batman terms.  

First we had the Bull's Head at Polesworth (THWACK!), then we had the Tamworth Tap (KABLAM!) and then we had the Three Horseshoes at Fazeley (POW!)  

The BRAPA cynic in me predicted that such pub fortune couldn't last.  And the BRAPA cynic in me would sadly be correct.

Not that I was feeling pessimistic walking into pub 4, and Daddy BRAPA actually skipped with the wide-eyed optimism of a spring lamb in the suckling season.  But maybe it should've been a pig, Tamworth is famous for our little porcine snout snufflers after all, oh and the police.  I wonder if that's where the derogatory terms 'pig' comes from?  


I guess it was here, in the Sir Robert Peel, Tamworth (1982 / 3545) that the magic of the day started to die.  That's not to say the pub was rubbish, it just wasn't very interesting.  And you know when BRAPA is struggling for stuff to write about a pub, and it isn't the old '5th pint of the day syndrome', something is lacking.  Sure, it had a very lively, quite busy pre-Christmas atmosphere.  And befitting of the type of behaviour I'd come to expect from Tamworth folk, people smiled, looked you in the eye, let their dogs wander over, and made some amusing comment in an accent half way between Birmingham and Stoke that no Yorkshire person could hope to understand.  I'd done well to get us a table at the back of the room, Dad jostled for position at the bar, and brought over two perfectly pleasant pints of Salopian Oracle.  The steps down to the loos were the most memorable thing, Central London-esque in their potentially neck-breaking steepness.  I cannot believe no drunk folk have lost their lives attempting this drop, but then again, you feel you'd have heard about it in the news.  Maybe they cover it up and put the bodies in the pork pies Sweeney Todd style?  Pub could do with a legendary quirk such as this. 

A short walk down the street took us to Tamworth's third and final 2022 GBG entry.  King's Ditch, Tamworth (1983 / 3546) though Dad had read it as 'King's Bitch' which led us into a lively debate about which of Henry VIII's wives was the bitchiest.

Not Parr, she was my fave, she put on a monumental showing in trying circumstances.  Aragon, frustrating at times, but hard to really dislike, just wish she'd been a bit more cheerful.  Seymour I'd have liked to 'see more' of, dying in childbirth to leave Henry wanting more was probably a good move on her part.  Of Cleves got a bad press, but I thought she was a decent lass and hopefully more modern history will judge her kindly.  I guess that leaves those traditional scarlet women Boleyn n Howard.  I'm tempted to go Howard, Dad felt Boleyn but I think I convinced him.

Buoyed by such great chat, I again walk in all happy-like, but unbeknownst to me, this micropub would represent everything I dislike about this particular sub-genre of boozer.  No bar, that always throws me, I don't like not having that focal point.  Plus you have to trust the member of staff to totter into their little hidden kitchen with nescafe and biccies and bring you back the beer you asked for!  Undeterred, I still announce 'hiiiii!' to the pub, but a more lugubrious clientele you couldn't wish to see.  The couple nearest positively scowl!  So unmicropubby!  Only one man acknowledges me, he's got a fabulous Christmas jacket and amazing teeth and points the blackboard of beers out to Daddy B. and I.  Otherwise,  I feel very uncomfortable.  This isn't helped when the staff appear, quite introverted, which perhaps is what set the scene for the customers.  Dad makes a good point, the seating is laid out all around the wall, which isn't conducive to getting into a conversation with strangers, as you are naturally detached.  Someone on Twitter told me an impromptu sing-a-long happened when he visited, brightening the experience, that'd have been nice today!  And it stuck out more because the other pubs had all been so 'happy'.  The ale, from Pentrich, is a cloudy unfined one, and delicious, which went some way to consoling me as much as beer alone can.   As we prepare to leave, I make a point of directing my 'goodbye' towards that one man who'd made us feel welcome, but in doing so, all his mates suddenly join in with 'have a good day lads' and then, two tables nearer the door also wish us bon voyage.  Wow, maybe it just needed that domino effect to set things off!  Maybe if I'd have launched into Gertcha by Chas n Dave, I could've got the pub jumping?

Despite this experience, I'd have to mark my Tamworth debut down as a success, a cracking place full of top folk.

The final line in my notes (and bear in mind I'm probably getting quite tipsy by this stage) reads "write about being Tamworth station".  I've tried to put myself in Tamworth Station's shoes, but I just cannot find the required levels of empathy to imagine what it would be like to be Tamworth Station.  

Being out of Birmingham New St as early as 6pm, and with the sad failure to open of Dordon's Mini Miner,  I still needed a sixth tick.  It felt too risky to try and get an Elford or Whittington in so it made sense to head back to Brum in good time, after all I still needed three in the centre.

I hate New St station, hate, hate, hate.  I know it has been 'improved' but I just cannot circumnavigate it, I ALWAYS leave from the wrong exit, enter in the wrong entrance.  Moor St is so lovely too.  

Daddy BRAPA decides to wait and have a coffee in the station, just gone 5pm, I have just under an hour, so I decide best to start walking and see which pub I end up nearest, thought secretly, I'd love to finally get the Craven Arms ticked off , one of those pubs that always seems to evade me!

I'm right in the thick of things, and it is Christmas mayhem, reminding me of Oxford Circus in London at its absolute worst, I even pull my mask up outdoors there are that many folk about.

It becomes clear the Colmore (a modern Thornbridge pub) is rapidly becoming the best bet, so I head for it and take the obligatory shot .....

I step forwards when two bouncers intercept me, not totally unexpected pre-Christmas Saturday in such a busy location, though 5:10pm is early.  They ask me something, perhaps 'are you meeting someone here?' but I don't really hear so explain I'm just after a pint.  They then shock me by telling me "sorry mate, we aren't letting lads in at the moment".  "Eh?  Not letting LADS in??" I reply.  "Yeah sorry" they tell me looking rather sheepish "Boss says he wants more ladies in!"  

Wowwww, okay then!  I'm too dumbfounded to argue, not actually angry initially, thinking the whole thing is amusing and will be great for the blog!  

I stand to the left, keying into Google Maps to see if there is still time to salvage a sixth tick at Craven Arms or the other one , can't remember which.

I'm conscious of a group of 'lads' (well respectable looking young men!) to the side of me, and when there's a bit of activity at the entrance, they swoop towards it and ask the bouncers to let them in, I even hear one of them say the word 'CAMRA'!  Had they tried before?  I hear the bouncers relent reluctantly, and although I can't quite hear what is being said, something along the lines of  'not wanting the boss to know or else he won't be happy' and they seem to be giving these 'lads' specific instructions as to where to go to get served or something!  

I have no intention of trying again, so start walking away.  That is when I realise I'm being consumed by the most giant German Christmas Market, there's twentysomethings walking into my with giant tankards of beer and horrid jumpers on.  I can barely move forwards.  That is when the injustice of what happened hits me, especially as I've worked out I can't really get another tick in.  Grrr.  

Back at New St, I buy a coffee, Dad has seen me storm past him, so texts me where he is, and can immediately see I'm agitated.  "What's happened, you've almost got steam coming out of yer ears!" he says, as I take a sup of my disgusting Costa. 

When I recount the events, he becomes 'top social media manager' and tells me "You need to put this on Twitter ...... AND DON'T HOLD BACK".  Sage advice I think, though he later denies saying this in front of Mummy BRAPA the following day when I'm telling the family.  I ask him if I should include the bit about the other 'lads' but he reckons it might dilute / detract from the main message.

The Twitter reaction is instantaneous and pow!  Back to the earlier Batman theme.  People tagging in Thornbridge, who own the pub, tagging the pub itself, and recounting similar tales in this part of Birmingham and generally being sympathetic.  It is touching, but exhausting, every time I refresh my feed, a new set of people outraged on my behalf!  Some amusing comments too.

I'm an emotional wreck by now, not helped by losing Daddy BRAPA on the train, he'd gone for another coffee, and because it is two trains joined together, I can't get to him and the ticket inspector is giving me an earful like I'm some fare evading scum.  I just wanna curl into a ball and cry at this stage!  I have to jump off at Burton and jump back on to find him in Coach I, but I'm tempted to just go to the Devonshire / Coopers etc. and drink myself into oblivion.  

Finally, I find him, the ticket inspector never reappears, Twitter starts to calm down, and I don't want to detract from great Tamworth day so post a picture in some kind of hazy show of defiance  ..... 

Talk about a day out of two halves!  As I downed that final gulp of Bass in Fazeley, I'd never have believed it could unravel quite so much. 

There is an epilogue to my tale of woe, as Thornbridge email me on the Monday morning, good of them to address it I guess.  They definitely don't condone a policy which discriminates against letting men in in favour of women.  Their view (from having spoken to the pub) is that is a misinterpretation of the message on the part of the bouncers - partly fuelled by recent complaints against 'laddish' incidents in bars around here on Saturday nights.  

I tell them I had a bobble hat and a duffle coat on, am 42, and definitely couldn't be seen as a lad!  And I'm of the opinion the bouncers weren't to blame and the message clearly came from the boss of the Colmore.  It was just too specific, plus the bouncers weren't cocky, they seemed genuinely apologetic.  However, I'm exhausted, and just wanna put it down to a bad experience, and can tell they just want an end to the whole thing too, so hey ho, there we go!  Shit happens, what can I say.  3,546 pub visits that have appeared in any GBG, first time I've been refused entry for being male, hopefully the last.

Thanks for reading, join me later this week for tales from the Dales, where we'd have a happier ending to 2021 pub ticking.



  1. The duffle coat marked you out as a lad, very '80s Dexy's gear.

    I think we cut pubs some slack, don't we, and pray it doesn't happen on our sole Scilly Isles tick.

  2. I also thought it was the King's Bitch on my visit three years ago. As far as the Colmore is concerned Brum CAMRA should delete it on the grounds of discrimination! On a similar theme a local CAMRA committee member nominated a Con Club which doesn't allow females.

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  4. When I was a student living in Stoke in the early nineties, there was a local news story about the so-called Tamworth Triangle, where people kept falling to their deaths from unlocked train carriage doors. Wags in Stoke said it was because they couldn't face going to the town!

    There was also a club in Stoke which had different prices for men and women. One Friday night, some blokes turned up in women's clothes with a photographer from the local paper and were let in at the female rate. Something for you to think about in future...:-)