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

Friday, 23 October 2009

The Circle Of Life

A busy day today. I’ve just returned from watching a piece of Bury’s drinking history being razed. Yes, the Brickcroft Tavern on Brook St has been reduced to a pile of, er, bricks. Sadly, the writing has been on the wall for some time now, as I speculated in this earlier story.

I used to pop in there in the 70s on my way back from school. I think Jim Grimshaw was the landlord back then and it was there I developed a taste for Tuborg snakebite before eventually graduating onto Thwaites Mild and then Bitter. Like all pubs, it had its share of mini-crisis and made the local paper on more than once occasion. A plaque commemorating local Fusiliers killed at Gallipoli was found in a nearby scrapyard and hung over the bar until an appeal found some of their descendants. And in 2005 police were called after the licensee found an unwelcome guest in her bed-her naked, estranged partner!

But it’s not called the circle of life for nothing. Out with the old, in with the new, as Jordan likes to say. And so it was I found myself enjoying breakfast early this morning at Bury’s newest pub. A liquid breakfast, naturally, for as Tandleman says: beer is the finest of breakfast drinks.

The Art Picture House in on the site of the former Chicago Rock and is named after the original Art Deco cinema that was built there in 1923. A grade 11 listed building, J.D.Wetherspoons have spent some £850,000 restoring it and a jolly nice job they have done. It’s got plenty of distinct drinking areas and has a mix of tables and comfy seats. The large, central, wraparound bar is unusual for Bury and is complemented by a smaller bar at the other side of the room.

Five handpumps are in action, although two are taken up by Spoons usual suspects. I kicked off with a couple of pints of Moorhouses Black Cat before switching to Pride of Pendle. Being a Lloyds No. 1 outlet will mean late night dancing and high jinks for the kids and wannabe youngsters. What they will make of it and indeed how long it will remain pristine under their tender ministrations we will have to see. But for now, it’s a very welcome addition to the town centre’s drinking scene.

Incidentally, our local punting expert tells me that there had been speculation that the Brickcroft would become a brothel. I think I was actually the source of this rumour, having speculated about its position within the punting triangle. So it’s good to know someone is reading this, even if it is only admirers of ladies of the night.

Time for tea and preparations for this evenings jaunt, I think.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Some Good Cheer

Some good news for once on the local pub scene. The Star Inn at Broughton in Salford has been saved by locals who have clubbed together to buy it at auction for £80,000. The Star on Back Hope Street is a lovely little pub in a conservation area that seemed doomed when Robinsons announced their decision to sell it. However, in just a matter of weeks, a consortium was formed and hopefully they have now secured its future. Having enjoyed many a cosy lock-in sat in the vault, I congratulate them and wish them all the best for the future.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Just Like That

They say our loved ones never truly leave us. And so it may be in the case of the late, great, Tommy Cooper. For some 25 years after he shuffled off this mortal coil, it appears he has returned-on the bottom of a steak pie. Chip shop owner Crad Jones stumbled across this amazing discovery whilst enjoying his usual lunch of chips and steak pie at his shop in Caerphilly.

Mr Jones, 45, said he called the manufacturers, Peter's Pies, when he noticed the silhouette so they could document his find. He went on: “The comparison was amazing. It was definitely Tommy Cooper. I called my daughter over and she recognised it as Tommy Cooper too. I got the pictures because I thought no-one would believe me."

This is pure nonsense, of course. Obviously, there is no way that this pie has Tommy Cooper’s face on it. It looks much more like Tandleman to me.

Dance Of The Mad

As we all know, binge drinking is the scourge of modern Britain and something needs to be DONE. Step forward Bury council who are tackling the problem of irresponsible drinking head-on. Cleverly, they are eschewing the obvious routes-targeting problematic venues, education and such like and are taking a more oblique approach.

The council brain boxes have decided to ban people from bringing drinks into council owned venues. This ban includes bottles of water. Something that hasn’t gone down too down well with the various dance classes that use the council facilities. Line dancers, for example, have been told that they must leave their bottled water in the foyer for collection later.

A council spokesman pointed out that there was a difference between types of events. Soft drinks would still be permitted for exercise classes, but purely “social” events such as ballroom, line dancing etc would be subject to the letter of the law. There is a licensing requirement to ensure responsible drinking and if people were allowed to bring their own drinks onto the premises, it would prove impossible to comply with this requirement.

The fact that people have been bringing water to these events for many years is irrelevant. One unhappy punter, Christine Gibbons, complained that: “We have always taken our own water as the room is like a sauna. We are not smuggling in gin or vodka”. Honestly, I don’t know what these people are whinging about. The council very kindly provides a bar where they can buy “a range of soft drinks” and where tap water is available for “a nominal fee”. And personally, I will feel a lot safer walking the streets in the knowledge that I will not be accosted by some tanked up geriatric line dancer. There’s too much of that goes on in Bury as it is.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Nancy Whisky

I knew it was going to be one of those weekends. It usually is. After last weekend’s drink till you burst wine tasting at Urbis, I was looking forward to a quiet one curled up with Wolf Hall. Naturally it was not to be as Eddie, the eager, legal beagle had other ideas.

Friday saw me join him and the Manx Minx at the Met for the cultural phenomena that is the Lancashire Hotpots. Obviously a few drinks were required pre show and, thanks to MALT being downstairs, actually during the very enjoyable 90 minutes top notch entertainment. Indeed Eddie was so overcome by the emotional impact of Shopmobility Scooter that he was seen dabbing his tears with his tweed handkerchief.

Of course post show drinks were called for. Time flew as did the Jever and then with the witching hour come and gone and the Trackside closing its doors, Eddie and Minx disappeared for a pizza. I decided to call at the Towler for a Golden Pippin nightcap and discovered there was free beer to be had. Well it would have been rude to leave too early and so, out of good manners, I stayed a wee while. Possibly not the best idea considering Saturday’s itinerary. And who would have thought it’s so difficult to get a pizza delivered post 2am? Still, with a diversion for pick up, I was soon tucking into a delicious garlic bedtime snack.

Saturday dawned bright and early. But not in my house. Well not early enough for my planned Wetherspoons breakfast meet up. Or indeed any breakfast. There was just time for a cold bath immersion and a brush of the teeth if I was going to be outside the doors with the gang at noon. Yes, it was whisky time

Manchester’s first whisky festival was held in the interesting venue of the MOSI’s Air & Space hall. The upstairs gallery gave us a good view of the exhibits and gave rise to the game of guess the plane-Avro Shackleton, in case you were wondering. Oh, and plenty of whisky. In fact, so generous were the measures of our first host-independent Irish distiller Cooley-that Archimedes was actually heard to say “smaller measures, please”. Cue gasps all round, but luckily fears that this was a sign of Judgement Day finally arrived proved false.

A very good time was then had by all and although the early pace of 5 whiskies in 40 minutes proved difficult to sustain, it’s fair to say some serious drinking was done. However, man does not live by whisky alone and so eventually Eddie and I staggered out for some beery refreshment. Of course, Manchester had been home to thousands of rugby fans and two demonstrations, so a lot of places were either still very busy, closed or seriously short of beer.

Still not easily deterred, we slowly made our way up to the Marble via Cask, the Deansgate, Knott, Dukes 92, Barca, the Waterhouse and the Bank. We also had a look in Bar Fringe and had a nosey in the newly reopened Band on the Wall, although the choice of cask-Ruddles meant a quick exit. The Angel was unusually busy, as less surprisingly, was the Marble. The pumps here were looking a bit depleted-no Pint or Manchester left and we just managed to get the last of the JP Best.

Back in Bury, the Manx Minx had a curry waiting for Eddie (now that’s what I call true love), whilst I somehow ended up with Saltaire Hazelnut Coffee Porter in the Robert Peel. And when that transformed into Pinot Grigio, I knew it was time to call it a day and put a lining on my stomach. No delivery problems this time and soon I was tucking into a supersize double garlic/extra parmesan treat. The perfect end to a decent day’s drinking.

*The picture capturing me in action is courtesy of Manchester Confidential.

Friday, 9 October 2009

David Cameron's Flying Circus

So the circus has packed up and is headed out of town. Yes, the Conservative conference in Manchester is over. A week of arguments, late nights and copious drinking has come to an end. And that was just me. The hotel trade did best out of it, closely followed by restaurants. Pubs didn’t do as well as they would have hoped, but although the Fourth Estate doesn’t quite knock it back like they used to, there were a few drams had in the Britons Protection and a jolly good knees up in the Pevril.

Of course, Conservative Chairman Eric “Britain doesn’t really have any riot police” Pickles had ordered restraint on the booze front and actually imposed a champagne ban. However, trying to keep a bunch of old Etonians off the fizzy stuff is like trying to catch a fart with oven gloves-impossible. Future PM David Cameron was pictured flouting the ban and Philip Whittington was so keen on the stuff, he spent the nights in the cells after staff at the Midland Hotel alleged he helped himself to a £150 bottle's worth of it.

There were also some unexpected (or not?) recipients of the visitors spending spree. Paying no heed to po-faced, feminazi Harriet Harperson, the delegates were so keen on Long Legs that extra performers were laid on and at least one city centre brothel was working, er, flat out.

Meanwhile, local residents were thrilled to see Bury’s very own Robert Peel featured on last night’s Northern news programme. They were canvassing people about David Cameron’s closing speech and somehow managed to avoid interviewing one single chav. Thus we were treated to a strange montage of solicitors and businessmen all presumably treating themselves to a cheap Wetherspoons curry.

Of particular interest to eagle eyed viewers will have been the sight of local legend Joe Stalin in the background. Reading what looked suspiciously like the Morning Star. Uncle Joe was, despite his protestations, the popular choice for taking on disgraced MP David Cheater’s mantle. This was, of course, before the Labour hierarchy in their infinite wisdom decided to impose an all female shortlist on the local party. This controversial measure has proved hugely unpopular and condemned Labour not just to certain electoral defeat but a spanking of the highest order. Ah well, vous avez le cervau d'un sandwich au fromage, as my French teacher used to say.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Let's Get It On

You’re never too old for a bit of slap and tickle, but you may need some help. That’s the message from Manchester Council who, in conjunction with the NHS, have produced an illustrated guide to bonking for the over 50s. The Guide To Good Sexual Health for the Over 50s is a handy 47 page booklet with chapters such as “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Dating Advice”.

People featured include 68-year-old Pam, who writes: `We're more experienced, more mature and more confident and we're able to talk about what we want which makes us better lovers”. Right on, sister.

However, Sarah Kennedy on the Dawn Patrol quipped that by the time you were 50, hopefully you knew what you were doing and Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: 'I think this guide is an incredible waste of money. If someone hasn't learnt how to have sex by the time they have turned 50 then a booklet is certainly not going to help”.

There have also been some complaints over the £8000 cost of producing the 5000 copies. Personally, I’m all for nookie on the rates but can’t help thinking they’ve missing an obvious companion booklet. I’d like to see the council promoting my as yet unpublished masterpiece-The Joy of Ale: A Guide to Rediscovering Real Ale For The Over 50s. Coming soon to a library near you...