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, 17 February 2010

I've Heard That Song Before

Congratulations to the Kelham Island Tavern on becoming CAMRA’s National Pub of the Year. But...didn’t it win last year? Yes of course it did. It’s become the first pub to retain the title. This is quite remarkable and suggests a pub that is far above any of its rivals. Which, no offence to the team at the KIT, it isn’t.

I know the KIT very well and it is indeed a very good pub-although I’ve always preferred the Fat Cat myself. But can anyone honestly say it has been the best in Britain for two years running? Were its rivals that poor? CAMRA usually stage this award very well and each year the winner will alternate between a nice country pub, a community local, a thriving freehouse etc. A year is a long time in the life of a pub and this award shows CAMRA to be, at best, either lazy or, at worst, guilty of cliqueness.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Dance Of The Cuckoos

There are several things people associate with Camra: real ale, beer festivals and most notably, the Good Beer Guide. Now the great unwashed are mightily mystified as to the process by which pubs get to appear in the GBG. Take that most famous of pubs, the Marble Arch in Manchester. A boozer so well known that even Southern Jessies have heard of it. But just how does it make its way into the pages of the beer drinkers’ bible?

Well, earlier this week, in the name of investigative journalism and at no little risk to myself, I decided to find out. The location-a secret crypt deep beneath the streets of Salford. Gathered there within were the Camra Illuminati. Chaired by Beige Phil, it would be these select brethren that would decide the fate of the Marble Arch amongst others.

From my hiding place under the sacrificial altar, I could see that most members wore ceremonial robes and masks based on the signs of the zodiac. One notable exception was their Grand Wizard, Deathly Hallows. Sat at Beige Phil’s side, he had abandoned his usual Florence Nightingale attire for a striking robe of persimmon and gold.

The meeting began with the pricking of fingers and the swearing of allegiance to the Camra omerta. Then Deathly Hallows performed the ritual sacrifice of a doeling. Ideally this should be a young virgin from the nearest settlement, but this being Salford, a goat would have to do.

Proceedings then began in earnest. Nominations were first read out and then Deathly Hallows went into a deep trance before practising a form of extispicy. There was a short interval during which Beige Phil kept everyone entertained with some Canaanite humour and then it was back to the serious matter at hand.

For the second part of the selection process, DH relied on phrenology and his Native American spirit guide to advise the meeting. After a nervous wait, the results were announced by BP with the customary warning that to leak them would result in a Camra fatwa. He then led the meeting in a rousing rendition of Mamma Mia. More goats’ blood was drunk and then it was time to silently slip back into the world above.

So there you have it. When you open the 2011 GBG at Manchester City Centre, you will know exactly how the pubs came to be there.

There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Finger Of Suspicion

A Spar shop in Hemsby, Norfolk has installed a fingerprint scanner on its counter. Customers who can prove they are over 18 will have their prints stored on the device. On future visits they will merely need to press the screen in order to have their identity confirmed and therefore be able to purchase alcohol.

How long can it be before we are required to give a DNA sample in order to be allowed access to God’s greatest bounty?

Most Stupid Question Asked Of Me Yesterday

Did you watch Psychic Sally: On The Road? No, I would rather chew broken glass.

This Charming Man

“Minister Slams Stella”. When I first read this headline I thought, “Oh no, what has Stella McCartney done now?” But it turns out this is actually about everyone’s favourite lout of choice-Stella Artois. And Carlsberg and Becks. Health Secretary Andy Burnham has singled out brewers Inbev and Carlsberg for criticism after their failure to adhere to the government’s voluntary code.

This voluntary code requires brewers to label their products with how many alcohol units they contain. Now as we all know, the typical Stella imbiber merely wants to get pissed as cheaply and quickly as possible before giving their wife a good beating. Or indeed, in these days of equality, their husband/partner. They are not interested in how many units they are consuming in doing so. And neither am I. So I salute the makers of lout and their two-fingered salute to Mr Burnham.

Did you spot the key word in the above? Yes, that’s right children, voluntary. Mr Burnham should get off his high horse and get over his “deep disappointment” with brewers. I suggest he looks up “voluntary” in the dictionary.

Friday, 12 February 2010

The Dirty Dozen

Twelve Humberside pubs have had their licences suspended by Hull City Council. What heinous act have they committed that has forced the council to take such drastic action? They’ve been caught illegally showing football via the internet*. That’s right, they've been allowing punters to watch football in a pub. The filthy bastards. How dare they. I for one will sleep more safely knowing that the prompt action of Hull CC has saved possibly hundreds of lives.

Is it only me that thinks this is an overreaction? Yes, they were allegedly caught breaking the law. Although, it has to be said, I doubt you will find many people marching through the streets demanding stricter enforcement of this particular piece of legislation. It is, after all, really just a trade dispute. And the fact that the police are getting more involved in this matter is just laughable.

But ok, the law is the law. And Hull CC are conducting a review of the pubs involved. But what has happened to innocent till proven guilty? Is it really fair that the pubs are forced to close whilst this review takes place? If there was a possible risk to the public, it might be understandable. However, all I see here is protection of Sky and ESPN’s monopoly.

*via a "Slingbox" device.£200 from a shop in Radcliffe, if you're interested.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Then And Now

Thanks to an eagle eyed reader, I was alerted to this unusual piece of local pub history. The Cross Guns was a street corner Duttons pub that used to trade on what is now Myrtle Street South. Duttons were, of course, a large Blackburn based brewery who Whitbread swallowed up in 1964.

Whilst there is some old brewery insignia still to be found locally, Duttons regalia is rare. And to find something so prominent on a building that hasn’t been a pub for over 40 years is most unusual. Having been a secondhand shop, the building is now divided into flats, but the recent makeover retained the distinctive Duttons blue tile mosaic.

Some Things Are Just Wrong

There is a lot of media time currently given over to the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry. When they’ve finished chewing on that little nugget, I would suggest there’s an even more important matter for them to get to the bottom of. Namely, who in Asda authorised the sale of Sticky Toffee Cheddar Cheese. Yes, that’s right, Cheddar cheese with sticky toffee in it. It’s plainly wrong and nothing less than a grave breach of my human rights.

Heads should roll for this.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Who's Sorry Now?

It was no surprise that all the pub talk yesterday was about David “Cheater” Chaytor. Bury North’s disgraced MP was all over the news after being charged with three offences of false accounting under the 1968 Theft Act. Now I like a nice bit of fraud as much as the next anarchist, but he’s obviously not got the hang of it. Has he never heard of Robin Hood? It’s supposed to be the poor picking the pockets of the rich. Not the other way round. That’s just naughty.

Some thought has evidently gone into the charges, as potentially there were several candidates. However, some people didn’t cooperate with the investigation and some other offences would have been harder to prove. Of course, we do not know all the facts behind two of the charges. He may well just have a bad memory and that’s why he forgot he owned the properties he was supposed to be renting.

Sadly for him, there can be few households in Bury who are not familiar with all the facts of the third offence. There isn’t even the remotest plausible defence for it and falsely invoking the name of local legend Joe Stalin was truly shameful. I expect his brief to get him to hold his hands up for that one.

Such was his former standing, though, that deep disappointment was the prevalent mood in the pub tonight. One question people were asking was what he needed all the extra money for. Often it’s because of an overspend on birds, booze or matters of the turf.

Having often been driven to pauperism by the first two, myself, I could perhaps have sympathised with that scenario. But it appears that isn’t the case here. And whilst I’ve never seen the attraction of throwing your money away on the gee-gees (although I do like a woman in jodhpurs), I suspect neither has DC. So with all reasonable excuses for being on the rob exhausted, we’re just left with plain greed.

So I think it’s goodnight for him and as it’s beddy-bye time for me, it’s goodnight from me.