That Time I Accidentally Had a Shit in a Wetherspoons Women’s Toilet

This post is literally toilet humour, nothing horribly descriptive but from now on I’m talking shit more than I normally do.

 

 

In the UK, before the advent of “24 hour drinking,” the only place to go for a drink after time had been called at 11pm was to a club.

I hate clubs, I craved a lock-in or to go back to a mates house but it was always insisted, usually be the females in the group or the singles, that we go clubbing it “just for a short while.”

I’m reminded of my time in Bradford, in a club called Maestros, the men’s toilets the cloakroom in, luckily hidden around from the eye-line of the actual bogs but enough so the attendants could keep an eye out for any tampering with the fountain of the fish it contained.

That is almost as irritating as going to the loo only to find some poor soul there waiting with a selection of fragrances and pre-torn hand towels.

For me going to the toilet is a private activity but one I’ve learnt to deal with as not solely being unaccompanied if you are in a public place.

Plus pub toilet banter is almost as funny as pub toilet graffiti.

But that is having a pee and having a pee is fine, for me at least, I still have one shy-peeing/cubicle only mate but horses for courses.

Why bring up clubs? Simply because this was my first introduction to the brassy “don’t worry lads, I’ve seen it all before” type of women who, because the facilities in women’s club loos was so inadequate that the only option was to brave the blokes.

And quite a few did, with the usual complaints about the smell and the general state.  Still, it was another source of toilet banter.

Fast forward my continued attendance at music festivals.  The long queues, or perpetual free-for-all of getting a loo at peak periods.  The fear of what awaits as you open the door of an empty one, or the worry that the next person out of the one you are queuing for will be a boy and not a girl.  Or the bigger worry for me, the fear that when I leave the portaloo it will be a girl waiting to go in after me.

Lucky them, as I leave them in a better state than I find them (within music festival toilet reason) but it is still with due deference you make that fleeting eye contact and sheepish knowing look that we are all in this together.

“Spotless” used to be my boast if I was particularly drunk, the hopefully allay worries, while also realising that this sort of toilet banter isn’t best done in an open field to complete strangers.  Meh.

And so we find ourselves with micro pubs and micro bars and the advent of one, singular shared toilet facility (because as I understand it, to have two or more would require the place to be suitable for disabled access, don’t quote me on that, this blog isn’t about accuracy, just entertainment).

Again; I leave the toilet better than I found it, though it has to be said toilet in micro bars are generally of a better standard that a regular pub, probably because of the far less work required in cleaning just the one, but I still leave the cubicle with the dread of a woman waiting to use it.

However, regardless of sex, if they’ve been the type of person that persistently has tried to open the door when it is clearly locked, then I don’t care.  These are the same people that press both the up and down buttons on a lift and then wonder why they go in the wrong direction when they get in the first one that arrives.

Patience.  All good things to those who wait.

Which brings us to the title of this piece, which must have happened a good decade ago now I think on it.

There is nothing worse than knowing, on a night out, that you need to poo.  In unfamiliar surroundings it is just potty luck, in familiar surroundings it can be worse knowing just how limited your options truly are.

There are times I’ve gone home to use my own loo or, for the price of a drink, borrowed the key to a closer by friend’s house to use theirs.

I’ve gone back to pubs to use better toilets and I’ve gone ahead, leaving drinks behind, in order to get a more comfortable shit somewhere else.

Loo roll is a must.  Then a toilet seat.  Then a door that locks.

In a Wetherspoons I was, or rather thought I was familiar with, I got caught very short and went to use the gents.  In my solitary defence, I was desperate, rather drunk and the entry doors are more or less next to each other.

I flew through the door and briefly acknowledged that the toilet was completely empty as I found a suitable WC.

I was not more than 20 seconds into my ablutions than, very much like the ending of “The Usual Suspects,” all the evidence fell into place.

This place smelt nice.  Did I just walk passed sofas and comfy chairs? And a table with magazines on it?  Wait, where were the urinals?  Why is most of the floor I walked in on still carpeted?  Why were there so many cubicles?  Is that…is that women’s voices I hear?

This would seem like the least stressful way out of this.

I tensed.  Somehow trying to control my releasing of both sound, smell and anything else that could possibly give me up to the new and rightful entrants to the toilets.

Not that shit smells any better out of women but let us not take chances here.

I finished up.  Tidied the toilet to within an inch of its ceramic life and then waited, poised for my escape.

The doors closed.  Silence.  I gave it 5 seconds for the previous occupants to reach minimum safe distance and then I moved.  Quickly ran my hands under the tap in a show of some cleanliness and then just hoped that then next few metres to me and the relative safety and embarrassment free zone of the men’s toilets would not be spoiled by the face of any other person witnessing the horrific mistake I made.

I made it to safety, unseen, unspotted.  Soaped my hands and washing them properly looked at my suddenly very sober self in the mirror.  Dried my hands and rejoined the group.

Somewhere I get the feeling that there is a staff or security member who watched this unfold live.  I also get the feeling this did not go as smoothly as I thought it did and have relayed here.

Still, the past is the past, onwards to being confused by foreign toilet signs.

 

Thanks for reading.

My Love of Holt’s Pubs

Subtitle: Oh great, if my grammar wasn’t bad enough I’m going to struggle with possessive apostrophes.

Search Holt’s Pubs

Only 12 Holt’s pubs are Cask Marque apparently.  Good, ignoring those chancers is one of my fanciful whimsies I get when I go drinking.

I don’t treat Holt’s pubs the way that some would a Hard Rock Cafe, then again if each pub did their own pin badge then I might consider the pilgrimage to every one, I’ve already got their “bee glass” and my Untappd history seems to suggest I’ve had every beer they’ve done (give or take).  Make it happen Joey.

Now I can’t say I’ve been in a vast range of Holt’s pubs and as my previous post alluded to, the city centre pubs, like The Old Monkey and Ape and Apple just don’t do it for me, not because of the pub itself but because of the location.

If you want a list of my main visitations then it would be:

Tamar (Leigh), Mort Arms (Tyldesley), Atherton Arms (er, Atherton, pronounced a-THE-er-tun), Cart & Horses (Astley), Rosehill Tavern (Daisy Hill), Edington Arms (Hindley), The Crown (Horwich) and a few others more out of the way (i.e. not a simple bus/train ride).

I used to go in The Park in Monton, replete with fish tank and bench seating.  Then they gutted it and made it a mimic of the micro bars that sprung up in “the new Chorlton,” way back when every little enclave just outside of Manchester was “the new Chorlton.”

Now I could bang on about another of my whimsy annoyances which is purely of Holt’s own making and that is their pricing.

They are cheap as chips across the board for all their wares but don’t expect a menu saying 4.5 or 3.0 as a price guide, just some well trained bar monkey going £2.57 or £9.52 all together.

Yep, you’ll be coming home with pockets bulging of coppers to stick in your empty, over sized Bell’s whisky bottle.  Unless you wish to tip the weird amounts “no, you keep the 8p, luv.”

The beer isn’t half bad either but this isn’t about the beer it is about the pubs. “Always a warm and friendly welcome;” carpets, except around the bar area, strategic coat hooks (or full on hangers/stands), bench seating, the right temperature, nice toilets, very well trained staff, TVs at the right volume that can still be easily ignored if need be, cubbyholes, etched glass, etc.

You get the picture.

To conclude this post, I’ll finish with two quotes which sum up with brevity what I’ve drawn out to pass the time; one from Martin:

A TOAST TO SIR HUMPHREY IN THE BLUE BELL

Sam Smiths pubs most easily convey that sense of peace and contentment that justify getting out of your sofa to visit pubs…”

Except at Holt’s you can still use your electronic devices, should you so wish.

The second from my mum:

“If you’re old and can’t afford the heating, just go and sit in the Athy Arms.  You wouldn’t really have to buy anything and you’ll be as alone or as talkative as you want.”

 

Thanks for reading.

Not Tired of Life, Just Tired of Manchester (pubs)

I’ve never liked crowds; or being honest, people in general, the thronging masses of homo sapiens and their need to get wherever they are going and quickly as they can and fuck everyone else. Or the opposite of this, who toddle along or stop and chat on stairs or outside doors and are a general nuisance to everyone trying to get somewhere. Misanthropy can make you view things in extremes but all I see it common sense not being that common.

When I stopped working in Manchester I stopped having to commute through Manchester and I stopped having to go to pubs there to console my time wasted as another train or bus home was late, delayed or cancelled.

I started working and therefore drinking, in earnest, in Manchester some 15 years ago, not long in the scheme of things but a lot has changed in those years and I suspect a lot of people who communicate about beer probably weren’t old enough to drink back then either. For a point of reference it was a time before Port Street Beer House existed, then during, when it opened and became excellent and then further down the line, when it went on to become arrogant and shit.

During the past few weeks I’ve drunk in many towns and cities on extended holidays, especially in London, a place I have also seen change over the past decade or so I’ve made regular trips down there for drinks and the purposes of entertainment and relaxation (get your mind out of the gutter).

I note how the first stop is the Euston Tap and they just seem to be coasting along, resting on their laurels and the captive audience they have but at least that place was deserving of a pedestal at one time, unlike its Manchester Piccadilly counterpart which has always been a hollow shell.

I entertained finally going to the Bermondsey beer mile, if only to indulge my love of Kernel Brewery beers but they don’t open apart from to sell bottles and seeing as very few of the micro (call them craft if you so wish) London breweries are actually much cop (Weird Beard being one rare exception), it wouldn’t be worth my time or money. Full marks to Kernel for not being a slave to trends which now seems to have convinced people that drinking in industrial units under heavy neon lights surrounded by a bit of art is tip-top entertainment. I like Fox’s Biscuits and Heinz Beans but you wouldn’t see me clamouring to get to the a taste of those wares in the factories at Batley and Kitt Green, far better to consume them at home, in the warmth, away from notice-me-wankers (and probably Greg(g) Wallace).

London as a whole has changed, always a heaving metropolis, the description that opens this piece fits it best, though I’ve always respected the seeming fact that London centre pubs are treated as iconic and as necessary furnishments to the economy, something that Manchester, in its clamour to look exactly like London spectacularly loves to ignore and destroy. The personal epiphany though was that all the pubs in London I went in to were havens from the gaggling hordes, something I can’t say for Manchester.

That my opening gambit in every pub and bar I went into was “do you still take cash?” and only once was the answer a “no” still heartens me.

I thought it was just city drinking I was dulled to however not only tolerating but actually enjoying recent trips to Leeds, York, Edinburgh and Sheffield and a whole host of small towns coupled with the London excursion showed that maybe its a case that familiarity breeds contempt and it is well possible because every time I’ve been back to Manchester it has just been a bit meh.

I speak for me, this is my “Rekall moment,” and not to slight the pubs, old and new that are there or the drinks that are on offer.  I am fully aware I’m the factor here.

This piece seems to be acting as a nice intro into another small bit I’m working on called “My Love of Holt’s Pubs” which will be published, when I can be bothered.

 

I’m Linus van Pelt and pubs, except for those in the centre of Manchester are my security blanket.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Oh, of note in London pubs.  Cask beer was significantly improve over recent years (I don’t take my own thermometer though).  Sam Smith’s pubs vary in whether they bother in enforcing their “no mobiles” rule or not.

Beer People Are…Fans of Assault

Turns out I was wrong and that the guy behind @themadbrewery twitter handle is the guy who “milkshaked” Farage.

It’s amazing how hair loss can change the appearance of a person.

So not only is he now a convicted criminal, unemployed, fat and unnecessarily ugly* he is also losing his hair, and all at 32.  Brian Epstein, Bruce Lee and Mama Cass never achieved this much before they died.

But yeah, political violence…whoo.

When I first saw the news that the guy had pleaded guilty to assault and criminal damage I went in search of his account to find he had locked it again but as per my duff old phone, it allowed me to see all the replies to him and quite a few caught my eye as I recognised their names.

One in particular a Mr. Matthew Curtis

What a total prat.  The kind of bloke, or close approximation*, who hides behind the bully going “yeah!”

Then I noted a fundraiser had been started for the assailant to cover his costs and fines.

Oh…who’s that again…

Now granted you can add any name you want to these things, what is more shocking is the lowly fiver donation, perhaps the beer grift doesn’t pay that well after all, or maybe it is someone pretending to be him (or honestly has the same name).

 

Reading through twitter and the comments on the fund raiser you do have to laugh at the mental gymnastics of it all, especially from the prick that set it up.

How everyone detests Farage so this kind of violence is acceptable.

Detests? Hmmm, a synonym of detests is hate.

And throwing things at people is a crime.

Oh god, these people are justifying a “hate crime.”

 

“He shouldn’t have to face further punishment because he has already lost his job.”

Because only one of either the law courts or an accused employers should be responsible for the sentencing of a criminal.  Shit, if only Ian Huntley was sacked from his job as a caretaker then he needn’t have been convicted of life imprisonment for the murder of two children, really the legal system is all backwards.

It’ll be fun, when part of your future employment is to have your financial transactions combed through.

“Let’s see, it says here Mr. Curtis you like to donate a fair bit to crowd funding sites.”

“Yes, I like to support people within the brewing industry.”

“Can you give us some examples, please?”

“Certainly, apart from my presence as a social media influencer I’ve also donated to getting new equipment for a whole manner of breweries in order that they may expand the out put and also to start ups.”

“Excellent; very commendable, who is this Paul Crowther you’ve donated to, was he the owner of a start up brewery?”

“He was a home brewer who was also convicted of criminal damage and assault.”

“Right.  Thank you for your time.”

 

Lets get this straight.  What anyone does with their own money is up to them but don’t be even so much as questioning someone else’s morals or political persuasions or thought or speech if you’re willing giving your money over to anyone who is a stranger and a criminal.

You may as well donate your money to the Nigerian generals that send you spam requests if that’s your view in life.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

*Red Dwarf, Season Five, Episode 1 – Holoship.

Any Pump Clip You Want – As Long as its Plain

There is a logical fallacy known as slippery slope, thin end of the wedge, or domino theory.  Only when it comes to public health it seems to be playing out exactly as predicted.

Start with banning smoking in public.  Then hiding cigarettes.  Then making the packaging not look to appealing to anyone who has the misfortune to lay their eyes on it and have a such weak and feeble mind as to be convinced there and then to tack up the habit.

And then when we start “saving lives” but losing tax revenue it’ll be time to find something else to blame to keep the coffers full.

Salt was a big thing a few years ago but the sudden push on sugar in foods, with soft drinks being the first industry to be heavily punished with levies which subsequently led manufacturers to change their recipes so they now taste shit because of all the artificial sweeteners used to replace sugar.

I went into my local the other day and as I was with a designated driver they were on the soft drinks.  All options were; light, diet, sugar free or “max” – a water was ordered, well done pub you’ve just cost yourself some cash because you didn’t give adults the option of a full and free choice.

The populace is being conditioned (nudged) to be use to the nanny state looking out for the best interests so much so that it was only a matter of time till this happened.

Call for plain packaging for unhealthy drinks and snacks to combat preventable disease

Beer will be next.

Articles with a clear anti-alcohol bias have been around for ages but the temperance movement, emboldened by the nanny state have gone into overdrive, much like this article

Girl and Tonic blogger: ‘Giving up booze helped me buy my house’

The more truthful and sensible headline would be “Idiot realises that saving cash will help in future purchases” but instead we have to get a feature on a lifestyle twat and their stunning and brave decisions.

Nothing is more aesthetically unpleasing as walking into a bar and seeing a hand written pump clip, well perhaps jaggedly cut fluorescent flashes for drinks promotions but nothing puts me off buying a beer more than a lack of pump clip.

Then again pump clips are expensive, so sending out hand written paper clips would help with the margins, meh, get the bar to do it themselves and save even more cash.

This reminded me of the clash between Tiny Rebel and the Portman group over the design of one of their cans.

Just think how much money Tiny Rebel would save if their new cans were just had plain.

 

In fact all breweries may get in on this.  It could be a good thing in the long run for all micro breweries.  What a sight it could be when the shelves of independent beer shops could look like this.

It’ll be a brave new world

 

Writing this I thought of “Any Colour You Like” by Pink Floyd and then in popped another song of Dark Side of the Moon and stayed there all day.

 

Thanks for reading.

Big Beer – Keep On Punching

I don’t watch much television these days but I did catch the latest beer advert by Foster’s.

As it is advertising alcohol you may well have to sign in to view it, a stick that our nanny betters in government beat us with regardless of our age or how big the multinational behind the campaign is, as we are all equally worthless in the eyes of our masters.

Anyway, having seen this advert I was reminded about a post by Steve at Beer Nouveau about the “Dilly Dilly” adverts that Bud-Lite ran (and still are) and whereas I understand the point(s) he makes I think it is a general symptom of the love of victim hood that smaller brewers feel.

A mentality that moves less from the brewers; who are just doing a job, but more from the movers and shakers, the influencers, the high-profile bloggers and authors who didn’t yet land cushy jobs at bigger end craft breweries.  This then permeates other similar artisan producers; the over priced food hawkers, the impressively expensive coffee houses (of which McDonald’s, a company I still boycott, beautifully trolled), the fiercely independent beer shops, etcetera

Individuality is lost and the herd takes over and it is us versus the big guns and a sense of humour and reason is lost.

 

Eventually it metastasises into the type of straw man group think that is bread and butter to a cynical blog like this.

 

So; to anyone, keep on punching, with words only obviously, at anyone and everyone.  Take the piss and fuck them if they can’t take a joke.

 

Thanks for reading.

Vegan Haze and the Murky Zealots

I hate waste.

It is one of my pet peeves the amount of food that is wasted and a lot of this waste is down to not only confusion but an unnecessarily strict adherence to use-by/sell-by/best-before dates on food items.

We humans evolved (no apologies, creationists) a fair few senses to recognise when something that was edible probably wasn’t really edible any longer.  Sadly in this day and age the one sense that should have precedence over the others, common sense, has been for gone in an age of comfort and easy.

When it comes to beer the dominant sense would clearly be; what does it smell like, what does it look like and what does it taste like, though I’m sure there must be some Cicerone tweedle or CAMRA twaddle who reckons that can hear the beer as if it was some sentient being.

If you’re reading this that it probably goes without saying that anything you drink that is cloudy really does have to be appraised fully before its complete imbibing, milk based drinks aside.  And beer was no exception, a cloudy pint would, decades ago, indicate that it would be pointless to even continue with the purchase of the pint.

And so, finings of various nature but mainly the fish-orientated, vegetarian repelling Isinglass, was added to beer in order to draw all the murky causing bits out of it (yeast, proteins, etc) to give a nice pin bright pint.

As an aside, a sealed cask of nothing but beer will last a good few months in correct conditions, it is the addition of said Isinglass which shortens the longevity of it.

Beer is funny in the alcohol world in that respect.  You don’t expect to see a completely clear cider or perry and these days everyone loves a gin with all manner of things floating in it.

But this is about beer and its appearance and in my opinion I don’t care that much what it looks like as my other sense will tell me about its suitability to actually consume.

Though I will admit that adding Isinglass to a beer (an addition other finings) is not my most favourite part of brewing.  Adding anything to a beer at the casking stage, even additional hops, will always slightly increase the possibility of an infection.

Fruit puree, lactose (not suitable for vegans), spices, liquid flavourings and syrups; all manner of things added to a beer that isn’t during the boil will always heighten my science brain that whatever can go wrong, probably will and no manner of sterilising will stop it.

Having said that, beer is actually quite hardy too, especially given the state of some of the containers I’ve seen it delivered in.

This is off point though.  I don’t mind a hazy pint.  I don’t mind a cloudy pint.  I don’t really mind a murky point.  The chicken soup pint is pushing it but I’ll still drink it if it meets the standards of my other senses.

What I feel has happened with the boom in breweries is the accompanying arms race to brew all matter of things under the sun.

And another facet of the schism between “older” (experienced) and younger (modern) was opened in what a beer could look like.

Maybe I’m creating another straw man for the sake of writing this piece but what appears to be happening now is that the zeal that the older drinkers have for having a clear pint, and clear pint = good, hazy = bad, has been met with a 3rd law of motion in modern drinking circles in that murky = natural, clear = chemicals.

Of course the murk debate is, erm, clouded by what the beer “is supposed to look like” as the brewer intended verses the reality of what is actually served and yet again, no amount of brewing integrity to get a beer that is as clear as possible and as suitable for vegetarians is going to survive poor cellaring practices.

 

Use all your senses and drink what you like.

 

To provide a public service and for the fussy drinkers out there is your beer vegan?

 

Thanks for reading.