Far from being a joyful time of year, Christmas is actually the most stressful time of year. December sees the highest rate of suicides and a boom in calls to the Samaritans. Whilst in January we can expect a sharp rise in domestic violence and the breakdown of many relationships, after the forced jollity of the so-called festive season. You also get a spike of violent crime. But this year, it looked like being an unusually peaceful Crimbo. But, hark, the BBC doth sing. We’ve got two stabbings yesterday in Tandleman Turf (Middleton) and a double homicide in Blackpool on Christmas Eve. My faith in humanity (and sociological patterns of behaviour) is restored.
Boxing Day and the start of Kwanzaa. Two good reasons to party. Unfortunately, due to the Middle Ages approach of British transport, options are somewhat limited. Everyone’s moaning about the lack of trains, but I would settle for a bus. However, this is where my cunning plan to be within walking distance of several pubs and the Metrolink, comes into its own. But first there was the little matter of the afternoon match. A brisk walk took me to the Knowsley and a cosy corner spot. Now, Greene King don’t often get praised, so let me express my appreciation. One side effect of selling turgid beer is that it kills the appetite. Meaning one can spend time in their pubs and remain totally sober. Saving money and capacity for some real real ale. I salute you, GK.
Having seen the Reds ease past the Potters, it was time to make tracks for the Metrolink (geddit?) and the joys of Manchester. The Marble proved hard to leave, with the usual mix of their own hoppy delights and an interesting beer from Burton Bridge. Well the beer was amber and malty (sigh), but the pumpclip was excellent. Featuring the great Fred Dibnah, it commemorates an event 25 years ago, when George, a ginger tom, had to be rescued from a mill chimney before Fred did his thing. Down at the Waterhouse, Springhead St Nick’s Porter proved strange. A little thin for a Porter, it had roast flavours but no real complexity to recommend it. Bateman’s Salem Porter was much better, with notes of plums, coffee and chocolate. I just had time to squeeze a Brakspear Bitter in at the City before heading home and my appointment with a curry.
Fully curried up, it was time to risk the Peel. Here there were some terrible Northern & Blakemere beers on-phenol on acid, but luckily the Outstanding Standing Out was ok. Then it was time to put Elton Cabs to the test. They’d advertised normal rates over Christmas, but, having been stung on Christmas Eve, I was a little wary. However, I’m happy to say they delivered on their promise-well done, lads.