About Me

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Manchester, United Kingdom
Tyson is a beer hound and cheese addict living in the beery metropolis paradise known as Manchester
If the people are buying tears, I'll be rich someday, Ma

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The Age Of Innocence

The Nags Head used to reside at the corner of Barlow St and The Rock. It was a compact little boozer that you would pass on the way into Bury centre. It was here that I first flew solo and ordered a pint of beer. I knew nothing about beer, other than I had tried some once and been nonplussed by it. Still, I was aware that pubs and beer seemed to be an important component of life and so had determined to give them a fair try.

Thus it was, on passing the Nags one balmy autumn day; I took a deep breath and breached its mysterious borders. Drawing myself up to my full height, I stood tall at the Tap Room bar and ordered a pint. The barman, having given me a sceptical once-over, then threw my carefully laid plans into disarray. He asked me if I wanted Bitter or lager?

How was I to know there were different types of the damn stuff? And what was the difference between the two? Having pretended to give it some thought, I ended up blowing my pocket money on a half of each.

Much later I discovered that it was fairly irrelevant what you chose at the Nags. The Bitter went back into the Mild and the lager went into everything. The picture shows the Nags circa 1951 with its original Bury Brewery signage. Bury Brewery was the smaller of the two town breweries still trading after WW11. It was bought along with its estate of 80 pubs in 1949 by Daniel Thwaites and ceased production in 1955.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

A Pete Brown Interlude

More ammunition emerged today to bolster the fight against the neo-prohibitionists. Now, we’re always being told that supermarkets are selling booze to the unwashed masses at ever decreasing prices and that there are far too many drinks promotions. But is this actually true? The answer-inconvenient as it may be to the neopros-is actually no.

According to industry bible, The Grocer, supermarkets are giving less room to alcohol promotions and prices are actually rising. Last January, alcohol promotions accounted for some 26% of all supermarket offers. One year later and this has fallen to 22%. Asda is leading the trend with a dramatic reduction from 27% to 13%. Apparently fresh food is the new Stella, with fruit, vegetables, fresh meat and dairy expanding to fill the space that drink deals used to take up.

And it gets even worse for the miserable gits of the neopro lobby. Research commissioned by the magazine shows that despite heavy seasonal promotions on drinks, the top-selling brands were, on average, 2%-5% more expensive than last year. So, even buying the most heavily promoted booze will still cost you more than ever before.

So can we expect a grovelling apology from the factually challenged anti-drink lobby? I doubt it-they don’t like it up ‘em.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Call Of The Wild

Thanks to my Aotearoan contact for alerting me to the latest moral outrage that has apparently broken out in the land of the hobbits. Seems Air New Zealand have put a few noses out of joint with their latest advertising promotion. This is centred round the theme of “cougars”. They are, for anyone not down with the groove, women over 40 who sexually pursue younger men. Add ten years and it sounds like a typical Sunday night in Bury-so I’m told.

Anyway, Air NZ are running a competition for women aged 35+ who “prefer their meat rare”. By sending in a picture of themselves out on the town with their “cub”, they stand to win a free flight and tickets to next month's Wellington Sevens rugby tournament. Naturally I’m appalled and sickened by the whole thing. But if there is a wrinkly out there (with her own teeth) who fancies a chance of a break in the Land of the Long White Cloud...

What has really divided opinion is the TV advert that accompanies the campaign. Several women’s rights groups have called for it to be banned, whilst others have defended it and the debate has now spread to these shores.

Kim McGregor, director of New Zealand's Rape Prevention Education, has gone even further with her criticism and said that not only is the advert sexist, but it is degrading to men. She claims that males who have been raped by women are complaining about the ad and are "very distressed that their situation is being laughed at". I’m sure the great Michael Winner would say: “Calm down, dear. It’s only an advert”.  But, gentle reader, I will leave the final judgement to you.

Every Silver Lining Has A Cloud

Good news: Simon Cowell has announced plans for a charity single to help the Haiti disaster survivors.Bad news: it will feature “stars” such as Will Young, Joe McElderry. Leona Lewis, hip-hop trio N-Dubz and Hallelujah butcherer, Alexandra Burke.

Haven’t they suffered enough already?

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Memories Are Made Of This

Bury Archives new online service has furnished me with two photos of particular personal interest. Both of these featured pubs having been on my street. And that’s about as local as it gets.

This picture is of the Fernhill circa 1978 and is just how I remember it. It was the second pub I ever bought beer in and was often the first port of call on a Friday night crawl. It was never any great shakes as a pub, but served a regular and loyal clientele. I remember my father, at one time, used to go in regularly once a month to catch up with a friend. This friend, despite living locally, used to insist on driving there and back in his Hillman Minx. Sometimes, being too drunk to do so himself, he was driven home by my father. Quite a feat for someone who never possessed a driving license.

There were several problems over the years. Not so much with the nearby gypsy site (the guy in charge was called a gypsy warden, so they were indeed officially gypsies), but rather “travellers” who invariably got barred. After one such incident, a group returned intent on revenge and smashed all the windows and assaulted the landlord. As some of the locals were a bit handy, a mini-riot soon ensued and necessitated a call out by the police tactical aid unit.

Ah, those were the days. Sadly, though, that seemed to do for the Fernhill, and it gradually declined and subsequently closed. The building still stands, however, and is now a community centre.

The second pub is more of a mystery. The Spread Eagle looks a big street corner boozer. It features in the 1871 census and this picture shows it circa 1952. But it must have been shut by the 60s’ as none of the old soaks round here remember it. From the signage it can be seen that it was a Walker & Homfray’s pub. W&H were a Salford brewery who later merged with the more famous Wilsons brewery.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Most Unmanly Excuse For Leaving The Pub That I Overheard Yesterday

“I’ve got to go now as Rosemary & Thyme is starting soon”.

Strangest Text Received Yesterday.

“I’m in Ladies Shaping Knickers in M&S”. And no, because someone did ask, it wasn’t Tandleman. I see him more as a flannel nightie man, myself...

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

There's No Business Like Snowbusiness

What’s the problem with a little bit of snow? You’ve got the BBC panicking everyone by mixing up centimetres with inches and the papers crying that the end is nigh. It may be the worst for 30 years, but does everything really need to come to a halt?

After all, Bury is a thriving metropolis. I could understand it if it was a little backwater like, say, Middleton. But still, snow panic had set in by yesterday afternoon. Shops were closing left, right, and centre. This despite the fact that buses had-once they realised it was just snow-started running again. We counted buses coming and going from the four exotic corners of the world: Radcliffe, Tottington and Little Lever. Even the tiny hamlet of Cranford, I mean Bamford, was being served.

Initially I was untroubled by the closure of shops and the shutdown of the local authority services. If people can get (paid) time off, so much the better for them. However, there was a dark side to this phenomenon as we shall see.

The story so far-a motley band of drinkers were meeting to spend such a day as God intended it to be spent; in the pub. Eddie the eager, legal, beagle for once cursing his luck to be within walking distance of work, arrived to find most sensible people still at home. Having tried to assuage his boredom by forging a few wills and attaching unnecessary clauses to various contracts, he finally gave in to the call of the licensed premise in the afternoon.

The spacious Art was an obvious first stop. Something seemed amiss here, though. People in coats were huddled round looking rather glum. Did they know that Phoenix Snowbound was about to run out? No, it soon became apparent that the problem was the heating. Or rather the lack of any. Tiring of the sound of our chattering teeth, we set forth for warmer climates.

Alas, it was here that we discovered the true horror of the snow situation. Some pubs were closed. Now to my mind, there are only two legitimate reasons for a pub to close-it runs out of beer or when the licensee goes to bed. And I’m a little doubtful over the second of those, to be honest. So imagine our shock on seeing the likes of MALT and Wyldes shut.

But, being made of sterner stuff, we bit our lips, wiped the tears away and headed for the Robert Peel. And, for once, it delivered. The George Wright Five Gold Rings proving to be on good form. The kitchen was shutting at 2030 and the pub at 2300. In the meantime there was plenty of entertainment-firstly in the shape of a middle aged soak smashing glasses and then by the pub running out of gas. This prompted an exodus of wildebeest proportion, accompanied by the cry “Quick next door. They’ve got plenty of gas”.

Which left us alone and at the tender mercies of real ale and whisky. The cheap Talisker not having arrived yet, we settled for the more pedestrian Glenlivet. But whisky or no whisky, buses wait for no man. So it was I soon found myself winding my way home. An unexpected treat was finding the ever welcoming Lees still open and quite happy to cook up a fresh batch of fish & chips. Lush.

Friday, 1 January 2010

If You Can't Beat Them

Seeing as everyone else has done it and as we usher in a new year, I have decided to unveil my eagerly awaited awards for 2009.

Best Draught Beer: Can’t remember. Probably whatever I was drinking last night.

Best Bottled Beer: Can’t remember. Probably whatever I was drinking last night.

Best Wine: Ditto.

Best Pub/Bar: Wherever I lay my hat.

Best Beer Blog: Who Cares?

But let’s not forget it’s actually the end of the decade (well it’s not really, but let’s not be pedantic), so I think a review of the Noughties is in order.

Tyson's Hugely Anticipated Review of the Noughties   

They were shite.

Happy New Year!