No Kent Do.

The cover for the Hard-Fi single Living For The Weekend features a clock showing 18.00 hours which I’ve always thought was a bit late but again it was around this time when my weekend could begin and after the standard order in McDonalds it was off to The Lyndon to meet Craig and from there we headed to Black Country Arms.

It was a bit lively upstairs so for the 2nd pint (blood orange cider after a green pint of Stonehenge Sign Of Spring) we headed for the part of the pub I call the Study. In here we found a joke book which Craig read from. I also chipped in with some of my favourite jokes like”a skeleton walks into a pub and says can I have a pint of lager and a mop please?”.

The BCA Study.

From there we headed to The Lounge (formally Pen & Wig) which was re-opening that day. It is now a desi pub serving food and there were a few folk in which was good to see. On our last visit 3 days after Christmas 2019 it was just me, Craig and the landlord in there and it was still playing festive music which was odd.

The bouncer knew I was taking pictures and made no attempt to get out of the shot.

As we hadn’t gone back upstairs in The BCA to use the loo before departing we both needed it here. Craig dashed in first whilst I got on with the important business of ordering the drinks. And then I dashed to the bogs.

Madri in a Madri glass and Thatchers in a Madri glass. The Thatchers glasses were the only thing that didn’t turn up.

I entered to find a bothered Craig having trouble washing his hands. He challenged me to get some water out of the taps. Upon finishing the matters arising I walked to the sink, used the left tap and it flowed freely. I don’t know what it is with Craig but he brings out my mainly dormant competitive side. With wet hands to prove my victory I bypassed the hand dyer and went out and flicked excess water at him. Had it been anyone else I’d have acted like my 48 years and just used the dryer.

There were food and drink menus to peruse. Cocktails include Strawberry Is Sexy and Sex On The Sofa. I might try those and in the latter case I might get round to having the drink at some point too. The food is the usual desi pub fayre. They do an amazing sounding mega deal which costs £49.95. I announced that next time I win £50 on a scratchcard, I’m having that. Craig mentioned that it was surely a meal for 4. “Fine” I replied. “I’ll bring Patsy Kensit, you bring Lucy Verasamy”. I didn’t think to check if he knows who Lucy is but either way I’ll have a flirt with her while he is at the bar.

Want want want. I’ll have the 4 drinks first though waiter.

From there it was The Registry then Katz. On the retro gaming machine we have found Super Pac-Man which is an a odd version of the original game with un-lockable sections and power pills which makes your man go all big and he can do what he wants for a bit. We had three games. I won one, Craig wiped the floor with me in the other two, so I’m putting this bit of the report second and hoping you don’t notice. He made some great scores and as usual drunk me was a bit blase with my Pac-Man. We headed to Blue Ginger to round the night off which is standard behaviour and it was ace. Also standard.

On the Saturday I was up early to head to work. I glanced ruefully at the railway bridge. Two hours later I should have been passing over it on a wacky one night trip to Kent rather than walking under it at an un Godly time to do overtime. With that trip off due to the train strike it was all about earning money rather than spending it.

It was pissing down as the clock struck 1, so a colleague (who quit suddenly in the time it has taken me to write this) offered me a lift to by The Saddlers Centre car park. Not a long walk but like the bloke in the Heart “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You” song, I had no umbrella, no coat so I was happy with the lift. He’d bought everyone breakfast earlier too so he was in my good books that day..

Anyway I went into the Saddlers Centre and grabbed a cheap pair of jeans for work from a charity shop. Size 30. I don’t think I’ve worn size 30 since I was about 7. I left the centre via the other exit into glorious sunshine. It hadn’t taken that long to get the jeans on honest.

I saw an ice cream van and I wanted in. I was drawn to the Raspberry Brain Rotter Sundae. Purely because I’ve decided that if I ever have to change my name or do a witness protection thing I would go for the name Sebastian Rotter (inspired by Faris Rotter lead singer of The Horrors). I might have to rethink this now I’ve revealed it in a blog that is read around the world. Vince Rotter it is then.

Just look at that magnificent bastard. It didn’t last long.

On the evening my mate Gareth was up from Newport in Wales. I warned him not to head to close to the football ground as he might get a 2 year contract as our manager Mickey Flynn hails from there and likes a signing from his home town.Gareth had bought his friend Dai along and we met up in The Lyndon. Upon leaving, I turned to inform Gareth that I was nipping for a quick piss. Only it wasn’t him. I don’t know who the bloke was but he didn’t seem too interested in my bladder emptying movements.

I had guided the lads to The Wheatsheaf as I was peckish and wanted to try the new BBQ. I was craving a burger but upon reaching the food area the chef said it was jerk chicken and goat curry and that the food was all cooked and inside. So I went to the window at the kitchen. They had no idea what I was on about so I went back to the bar. The barmaid directed me to go outside, which was what I was told first time around. She marched off outside and came backing saying she thought I had to order at the bar but wasn’t sure. Losing the will to live I ordered a ham salad cob and took great pleasure in extracting the non bread/ham content.

Gareth and Dai were getting stuck into the rum. Last time I tried this it was a spicy cherry version in Katz. I was showing off and drinking it neat. Next thing I knew I was being put into a taxi so I played it safe this time and had an ale. A bloke latched into Dai and eventually asked our names. “Mikee” I said. “Martin?” “No, Mikee”. “Nice to meet you Martin” he concluded. Oh well. I get called Steve and Andy so it’s nice to have another name to go by.

We went to Walsall Arms and met our mate Dan and from there we hit Katz and sat outside in the pleasant surroundings until the un June like temperatures put paid to that.

Dai wanted to go where the women were so it was time for The Registry. There were ladies about so that was good. I was flagging soon afterwards due to the busy long working week. Something need to liven me up. A final drink was doing the trick until this was usurped by the DJ playing “Set You Free” by N-Trance. This is just one of the best songs ever and always brings back memories of my 40th birthday bash when it was played late on and the whole room went up.

I finished my drink, thanked the lads for a cracking evening and headed home.

Kent? Soon. Maybe.

Lovin The Unplanned Live Music.

Yesterday was a bit odd. I was meant to be going to Milton Keynes but I made the last second decision not to go. The coach had no toilet and I deduced that a day of drinking, a weak bladder and no toilet wasn’t a good mix.

I went to Wetherspoons and had a mug of tea, followed by the obligatory free refill then went back home. I grabbed another cuppa and went back to bed. I was still knackered from the day before at work. When I accepted the job my hours were 8.30 until 5. Of late it’s been 7.30 until 6 and doing this the day before, marching around the warehouse all shift in 30 degree heat had taken it out of me, so a bit more bed time did me no harm at all.

Josh phoned on the afternoon asking if I wanted to go and see a band in Coventry on the evening. Thinking their might be some blog material in it, I jumped at the chance. My previous Saturday’s blog mission had gone up in smoke when trains from Walsall to Rugeley were cancelled to due to trespassers on the line, which is a totally wank reason to cancel, especially as we all got to stand and watch as the train on the platform then departed empty towards the trespassers.

So I’d gone one Saturday without material, this days mission to MK was off and next Saturdays totally whacky one night trip to Kent was out due to the train strike so I was grateful for this trip to Cov.

It was absolutely pissing down upon arrival at The Albany Club but we weren’t too moist upon getting in which was a result.

I asked Josh who the band was and I thought he said Plastic Door but he confirmed it was Plastic Dog. “Think of Love Island” he said but I’ve never seen that programme so this hint was wasted on me.

Plastic Dog. Great band.

The band came on and opened with “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. I’m no fan of Led Zep and I detest this song. I considered going and standing in the rain for a bit but my view was being blocked by a tall, broad grey haired man who I nicknamed Mr Gilbert (from The Inbetweeners) so I got my phone out and tried to block out the music.

Things improved. The nexy two songs were “Sitting On The Dock Of A Bay” and “All Along The Wtchtower” which were superb renditions.

There were a few folk in, some nice ladies which really made me wish I’d had a shave and put a shirt on. As the first half continued we moved from behind Mr Gilbert and really got into the night now I could see the band. The barmaid was very smiley and friendly which is always good.

As the first half drew to a close I even started to dance along to “You Don’t Know What It’s Like To Love Somebody” (BeeGee’s?). Unfortunately during the dancing my hand lightly brushed Mr Gilbert’s arse. Nothing was said though so he either didn’t feel it or liked it.

The band finished their first half set and on came Phil Collins with “You Can’t Hurry Love”. All of a sudden the dancefloor which had been empty all night was full of women dancing. The band must have been like “wtf?”. I joined in the dancing of course and was giving it portions to “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” and a woman walked past and gave me a big smile. Typically there was no toilet attendant in the place or I’d have been straight n there/ “Mate I need a shave, after shave and a shirt please. Here’s a pound”.

As the interval continued a lady came round with a tray of sandwiches which I happily opted to indulge in but as as I want to make my selection the lady next to me caught the underside of the tray with her flailing arm. Fortunately I stopped the tray launching and grabbed a couple of them. It was a panicky second though. Anyway I’ve never danced with a cheese sandwich in each hand before so I hope that was a good look.

I popped to the loo and as I departed the urinal I noticed Mr Gilbert had followed me to the gents. He clearly didn’t mind the arse incident.

The second half was also good but mindful that we had yo be back at The Walsall Arms before they closed the door, we departed before the end.

On the way over I’d found out that like myself Josh is also a fan motorway geekiness and we’d had a good chat about various routes and it was now that I declared that one of my ambitions when I pass my test is to drive on the M45 which has one of the lowest traffic volumes of all motorway traffic and driving along it apparently is like going back to the 1950’s. https://pathetic.org.uk/current/m45/

We made it back to Walsall Arms just as Allison was about to close the door. Stunning time keeping and a nice feel of Challenge Anneka to round the night off.

Class evening. You just can’t beat live music.

What A Weekend.

For my international readers, this weekend over here we have been celebrating the 70th anniversary of our Queen’s ascension to the throne. We were given a 4 day weekend and told to enjoy ourselves. Which we did. Us English like a 4 day weekend and a booze up so we grabbed this opportunity with both hands.

On Thursday my mate Craig rocked up and we had a little wander about which lead us to Katz. As is now tradition we dived straight on the free retro gaming machine. We played 3 different football games, both of us with automatic keepers. Unfortunately his was like Jimmy Walker and stopped absolutely everything where as mine went to pieces as soon as one of Craig’s players crossed the half way line. I played him off the park every game but somehow lost 4-0, 3-0 and 1-0. Our shouts during these games must have been audible as someone en route to the toilet took a diversion and came into the room thinking we were watching an actual football match. Despite being robbed on the football I won the Ms Pac-Man, Space Invaders DX and Donkey Kong games so was happy with that.

From there we went to Blue Ginger. I keep meaning to try new things in there but the garlic king prawns are just on another level so I always have those along with a nargis kebab and tandoori chicken for company.

It was quiz night at the Black Country Arms and they had Sign Of Spring from Stonehenge Brewery on. This amazing green beer only comes out at this time of year and the brewery is one of the best I’ve been to so I always have that when it’s on.

We won the quiz, well I say we, Craig won the quiz. I contributed just one answer if I remember correctly about Forest Green Rovers changing their name to Stroud FC. It was a good start to the weekend.

On the Friday we had a Walsall CAMRA branch meeting along with a little ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the branch.The Pretty Bricks was chosen for this event as that is the pub where the branch was founded back in 1972. I chaired the meeting which went well but ended on a slight low point when in any other business somebody complained about having to sit through the meeting before getting to the 50th anniversary bit. I apologised for costing him time, closed the meeting and we got stuck into beers and free cobs and sausage rolls kindly provided by the pub.

The 50th anniversary part went very well. The first branch Chairman Brian who I’ve never met before made a speech as did fellow founding member Keith Watkins. Keith is still involved with the branch and at the end was presented an award of being made Honorary Branch President by our Regional Director Cy Day.

Keith being presented with his award by Cy.

Afterwards we had a few discussions amongst the committee members and I really hope the branch can push on after I step down as Chairman in October.

I then received a message from Kimbo. He and other fellow Walsall fans Coxy, Dan and Kev were in The Registry and did I want to join them. Hell yeah. I timed my arrival to perfection just as a UB40 act was finishing and soon the dj was pleasing the crowd with Sweet Caroline and the two Bully Ocean biggies back to back “Love Really Hurts Without You” and “Red Light Spells Danger”, all of which went down a storm. We had a good dance around and sing along then someone proposed going to the Walsall Arms. It’s a great pub and on my way home so it was a yes from me.

Kimbo, Kev, Dan and Coxy. Top lads to drink with.

Obviously I needed the loo first so there I headed. Regular readers of this blog will know that in pub toilets I always like to head to urinal number 2. The Registry has 7, there was just a sole user but he was stood at number 1. I headed for no 4 (if I can’t have 2 it has to be an even number). The man at number 1 was attempting to sing along to Baby Come Back and his rendition was very entertaining.

It was karaoke in Walsall Arms and I haven’t done it in a while but by now I was in an advanced state of refreshment so decided to go for my signature song Everybody (Backstreets Back) by Backstreet Boys. Kev joined me for a duet which was ace and we smashed it out the park.

I got up very late on Saturday. I cooked an egg sandwich and made a cup of tea and went back to bed. I wasn’t hungover, just very lazy. Eventually I got hungry, remembered that the Walsall Arms had a BBQ on and so I ventured out. With a cheeseburger ordered and a Salopian Golden Thread in my hand I joined Chris Steele and his partner Hannah. The England match which I’d forgotten about was on. Another friend Simon joined us but I couldn’t really get into the match so I moved on.

A short while later Kimbo checked into the Tap And Tanner. Him and Coxy were out for round 2 so I joined them. Whilst not overly busy it was great to see so many people dancing around at such an early part of the evening clearly enjoying the occasion.

Enjoying round 2.

I was peckish again so went to visit Triangle Pizza for the first time. Situated in the former Oysters chip shop opposite the library I’ve been wanting to tick this off since it opened a couple of moths ago. The staff were friendly and welcoming. The smallest pizza they do is 12 inch. They clearly know us Walsall folk like our food. I opted for pepperoni with added roasted chicken. I think it came to about £12. It arrived quickly. It was still early and I was in no hurry to get to Katz so I rested the box on a litter bin and tucked in. After weeks of picking orders for pizza boxes at work it was nice to finally get my hands on one with the actual product in it. An employee came out and went to his car and checked with me if everything was okay. I confirmed all was good. I’m not sure if his food being eaten off a bin is good for the corporate image but I bet Italians have done this at some point so it’s all good.

Great place to be fair.
Pizza on a bin. Classy bloke aint I?

After a couple of slices I headed to Katz and ate the rest upstairs whilst the band downstairs played classics by Ugly Kid Joe and Green Day.

Last port of call was Black Country Arms where I had a Fixed Wheel beer brewed specially for the Jubilee. We’d won 8 free pints at the quiz and this was the first of them (Craig said I could have them all, an offer I happily accepted). It was a great way to round off an memorable weekend.

Free beer in a proper glass. Smiles, happy day.

Can’t Knock The ‘Nock.

My good friend and fellow am dram fam member Ian Kendrick has run the Cannock Conservative Club for 15 years but he is moving away and Friday was his leaving do. I said I would attend but it would have been rude not to have a mooch around the Cannock pubs whilst I was there.

I left work and headed straight to McDonald’s. I ordered a double cheeseburger and large toffee latte as standard and reached into my pocket for my wallet, and in there was my work tape measure and Stanley knife. Shit. My mind immediately switched to bouncers on pub doors, getting frisked and them finding this.

My first thought was to bin the knife, but after two months at my new job I have only just started sitting in the staff room this week and it was this very day that I first read the notice advising that lost knives would be charged to replace. Sod that. I may be earning more money now but I don’t want to waste it on knives when there is beer to be paid for. I thought about hiding it in bushes if I saw bouncers but then my imagination ran wild as it often does and I was thinking what if someone finds it then kills someone and police see footage of me leaving the knife there.

I had time to run up The Oak Inn but it would have been odd even by my standards to dart in and ask Adam or Anabelle “yeah, I don’t want a drink but could you look after this weapon until tomorrow please?” As I waited in the window I saw a work colleague passing. I’ve never been so glad to see a colleague. Seconds later the knife was in his bag, and minutes later toffee latte was in my hands. Panic over.

I headed to the railway station where entertainment was being provided by a drunk man dancing around vigorously, although he was distracted by a lass walking down the stairs onto platform 2. “Oi bab, I love your top” he shouted across the tracks. She looked nonplussed at this compliment. He didn’t comment on my attire which was somewhat disappointing.

First port of call in Cannock was The Merchant. It was much busier than on my previous 2 visits and this time beautifully decked out for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The only real ale on was Plum Porter but I thought that was a bit strong for a first drink and it was still before 7pm. I then realised that at 10 Downing Street it would be wine time Friday. I like wine but again, too early. Whilst I’m on about that I would really like Sue Gray to investigate my previous birthday parties. I’d love to see what she digs up especially about my 40th where I have no recollection of the last hour.

Anyway with plum porter and wine off the table I was about to order a Coors, and then I spotted a thing of beauty. A fridge the absolute perfect size to host 12 Lilley’s Cider boxes. The barman who was a top bloke got down on his knees and went through all 12 flavours for me. I opted for Strawberry. Whilst at the bar I spotted pork crunch from local purveyor Ray Gray Snacks. This company are Walsall FC fans and I’m guessing the name comes from Sir Ray Graydon the legendary former manager of our beloved team. 27th of May is known as Ray Graydon Day in Walsall as it is the anniversary of him guiding us to play off glory at the Millenium Stadium. So I had to have Ray Gray pork on Sir Ray Graydon day.

Friday night dinner.

It was a pleasant pint. The music was varied ranging from Mambo No 5, Culture Club through to The Ketchup Song. There was a bottle of ketchup on the table which I considered dancing around with but I wasn’t sure that anyone in the vicinity would get the reference plus I wouldn’t have been able to recreate the shapes thrown by the bloke at the railway station so I stayed seated.

The bar in The Merchant looking good.

As I walked up the High Street I heard some very shouty karaoke so I decided to go wherever that was coming from and it turned out to be the next bar. JK’s. This place was busy and everyone seemed to be having a good time. There was a tip box on the bar which mainly consisted of coppers but someone clearly trying to impress a barmaid had stuck a fiver in. I was very jealous when someone got up to sing Help Yourself by Tom Jones, one that I’ve always wanted to perform. He did an entertaining rendition but I was still tempted to get up and duet.

Next up was Linford Arms, Cannock Wetherspoons. As I approached a man vacating the place looked to his left and shouted “Dan”. I’m never one to turn down an Alan Partridge reference so I also shouted it. I was tempted to stand there shouting it for a minute but it was time for my first real ale of the night so I ventured inside for a £2.10 Slater’s Golden Bitter.

Not sure if Dan is pictured.

It was time for New Hall Arms, my favourite Cannock pub, now run by former Wheatsheaf landlord and my predecessor as Chairman of Walsall CAMRA Tony Colpitts. I was across the road looking for my camera app when I heard “Oi, Walsall”. I looked up and Tony was in the doorway enticing me in. I had an excellent pint in here but can’t for the life of me think what it was.

What a pub though.
Looks like a Dr Who style Walsall CAMRA Chairman regeneration publicity shot.

I headed to the Conservative Club. Some of my fellow AMCS (Aldridge Musical Comedy Society) members had been singing at Ian’s leaving do earlier in the evening but I declined this due to pub commitments. On a previous visit here my mate Daz said his pint of Bass was the best he’d ever had. I’ve never tried it so I thought what a better time than the last night of Ian’s watch. It was very good. I saw Ian’s speech and then caught up with him for a chat. He’s a great bloke, and will be missed both on stage and in the dressing room. He was a great help to me when I first joined the society. I wish him all the best in his new life.

Me and Ian. What a bloke.

Penultimate pub was The Royal Oak. Now there is a thing about American singer Tiffany living in Cannock which some people believe but many think is a myth. Anyway on my previous visit to this pub “I Think We’re Alone Now” was blasting out as we approached. This time it took the time for me to walk in and go to the loo before they started playing it. I wonder if she is a local there so they give her PRS money by playing her regularly. Maybe mix it up a bit next time though by playing Radio Romance please. I’d like that a lot.

Final visit was The Arcade which is a fairly new micro-ish pub based in part of a former music shop. Really cool place this and a nice way to break up the walk from town to the railway station. I can’t remember what I drank, it was good whatever it was and I enjoyed the visit but soon it was train time. The carriages were busy so once I used the loo I snook into first class. I’ve only ever sat in first class once previously, on a Virgin train where I got free food and drinks but neither of these were forthcoming this time. The journey was quick and quiet, well until a lady went to the loo and upon her return was greeted by one of the men with her singing “she’s had a shit, she’s had a shit”. I bet that doesn’t get sang in first class very often.

I was first out of the station as I wanted to get one of the 3 taxi’s that wait outside as I had Saturday overtime for the first time since 2010, so I was a good boy and went straight home. Anyway, it was a great night and I look forward to going back to Cannock. Once I’ve learned the words to Help Yourself and Radio Romance.

Gotta Dig Digbeth.

Last Saturday I found myself in a rare situation of time to myself and no plans. Every so often when this happens I like to go for a wander and this time I jumped on a train and headed to Birmingham, with the destination of Digbeth in mind.

It was a pleasant evening and I enjoyed the casual stroll. However as I passed the markets I realised too late that I was walking on a broken bottle. I wasn’t injured but it was nice to appreciate how Annie Lennox felt after all these years.

I passed the Irish Centre and was saddened to see it boarded up and covered in graffiti. I had excellent nights in there watching gigs by two of my favourite bands Boy Kill Boy and Hard-Fi. Stunned it’s closed but I guess nowhere is safe in these Covid affected times.

I visited a pub that will be reported on later in another blog but as I made my way passed the Irish Centre again, two nice looking ladies stopped me. “Excuse me” began one “do you know where…..” at this point I was praying be somewhere I know so I look great. She concluded “the nearest Nisa shop is?”She could have asked me this in Walsall and I wouldn’t have known. “I’m sorry, I don’t know, I’m not from round here”. I felt like a bit of a nob, nothing new there I appreciate. I toyed with the idea of giving them directions to the next pub where I would have bought them a drink for the inconvenience but I opted not to. She asked if there was a shop of any kind around here and I pointed them in the direction of one I’d passed earlier. They smiled, thanked me and we went our separate ways.

Next up was the Big Bulls Head. This is a pub I only visit when going to gigs so it was a bit strange heading into there without live music on the agenda. The barmaid had a mouthful of crisps so couldn’t talk. I could however and ordered a pint of Madri. A bargain at only £4.30. The pub was busy, great atmosphere and I know I’m biased as I love the place but it was a very enjoyable visit.

Great pub. crap angle due to all the fences in the road.

Next up was The Ruin. The bouncer was deep in conversation on his phone as I approached and he moved in front of the entrance and broke off from his chat to ask “have you been here before?” “Yes, once about 3 years ago” I replied. He moved out of the way and went back to his conversation. I really have no idea what that was about and I wish I’d said no to see what happens. Next time I’ll put my investigative journalist hat on again and do just that.

The bouncer had finished his conversation by this point.

Anyway, The Ruin is a great pub. I was served by a very pleasant and smiley barmaid and I went for a mooch. On my previous visit to this place it was my first time of playing Cards against Humanity. Daz proposed playing this, Jane and Neil were up for it but I said no as pubs are for drinking and socialising not for playing games and I voiced this at the time. Saying that though I do allow myself to have a go on quiz machines in pubs, although it’s fair to say that it takes longer for me to withdraw money out of Santander’s new cash machines that it does for me to lose on quizzers.

Inside The Ruin, and that card game.

Anyway said game is still in the pub and it bought back good memories as I relented that night and did play and I laughed my nads off. Such a great game.

Next up was The Kerryman and the Award For Odd Conversation Of The Night will be presented to these once I’ve booked Chris Rock to come over and host. The barman approached. There was no music at this point. “Can I have a pint of Carling please?” “Laqer or cider?” “Oh, you’ve got the Carling Cider?” “What?” “You’ve got the Carling Cider on?” “No.” “Then I’ll have lager please.” He pointed to a font. “We’ve got Stella.” I think they heard my sigh in The Bulls Head. “Can I just have a Carling please?” He agreed and we were getting somewhere. I then ordered dry roasted peanuts. He went to the back of the bar, his hand moved towards the salted ones. He looked round and said “did you want dry roasted?”. After what felt like very hard work I got my drink and nibbles and sat down. Someone went up to the jukebox and on came the Blur classic “Coffee & TV” although the barman probably calls it “hot chocolate and Ikea flat pack wardrobe”.

Don’t pay The Kerryman, and I didn’t as I was seriously nowhere near the other side.

I left The Kerryman and had a bit of a surprise. The shop I directed the two ladies towards earlier actually was a Nisa. What are the chances of that? Had I been that flukey with the answers in my GCSE’s I might have ended up with grades better than ones that can spell out feedfeeed.

An A+ in directions please examiner.

Last pub of the night was Bull Ring Tavern which is a great boozer but not everyone’s cup of tea. It was busy. Seats were available but only at occupied tables and nobody was offering the chance to sit down. I perched on a stool and enjoyed my pint but all too soon it was last piss before the train and to dash for the train time all rolled into one. I’ve only been in this pub 3 or 4 times and it’s been a while and I couldn’t remember where the loos were. The door behind me just yielded the ladies. I headed along the bar, deliberately looking lost hoping someone would pipe up (nobody did). I asked a bloke but it was his first time in the place. I eventually found them upstairs, just about making it. Life lesson, don’t wait until you are about to piss yourself before looking for the bogs in an unfamiliar pub.

What a place though.

With the delay in finding the loo I had to run to the railway station. Apologies to the people of Birmingham, nobody wants to see that. After catching my breath I reflected on a cracking night. Digbeth is my favourite part of Birmingham. It’s cool, vibrant, the booze is cheaper than other parts of the city and it’s fun. There are new bars too which I didn’t try so it’s looks like I’ve got to go back. And this time I’ll know where the Nisa is.

Bescot & Birmingham.

Last Saturday was the final game of the season for Walsall FC. A season that can be best described as a bit poo.

I headed straight to the Bescot Bar as is standard procedure and whilst drinking we were randomly joined by a male porn star. I had no idea who he was. I’m a good boy me so I don’t watch that kind of stuff but I know where to find it should I ever become an MP. Some of the lads knew who he was and it caused much excitement. He stuck around and there were some great lines flying around both from him and the lads, none of which I can put on a family friendly blog.

Dan Gilbert asked him if there was a market for me. I didn’t catch his response but it was a short conversation so I’m guessing it was negative. Photographs with him were required and I was asked to take them. I’m guessing that this is the closest I will get to a porn shoot.

Anyway the match was wank (nothing to do with the porn star), we lost 3-0 and at the end people were just relived that this season was over.

After the game my mate Paul Mitchell had arranged a Walsall fans evening in Birmingham, some of these folks I hadn’t seen in years, others not for a fortnight.

We headed straight to The Trocadero, one of Birmingham’s “must visit” pubs. Service was quick but the £5.05 for a pint of Coors made me wince. I opted to nurse this pint for a while. While heading back to the group I saw Paul’s wife Cara who I’ve not seen for years. We spent about 10 minutes hugging. If there is a list of good ways to nurse a pint, hugging a cracking lass has got to be up on there.

What a pub.

The Troc is a great pub. Always lively but they like their light bulbs in there. I counted 43 from my view and that was with my back to most of the pub. With the energy price cap rise they’ll be regretting that when the next bill comes in. But then again at £5.05 a pint they might be okay.

Paul, Cara and me.

I popped outside to take a picture and on the way back in I saw a sign for the in house pizza and the slogan was slice slice baby. I’d had the excellent new single by Blossoms “The Sulking Poet” in my head all day. Not the whole song, just the “oo la la oo la la oo la la Juliet” bit on a continuous loop. Now though I was guaranteed to be singing “slice slice baby” for the rest of the night.

Sing it with me, “slice slice baby”.

I made the usual visit to the toilets and did a double take at the big screen showing that Brighton were 4-0 up against Man Utd, Due to this double take I nearly walked into the fruit machine. Not a good look in front of lots people. Talking of Man Utd, one of my bucket list items is to have a pint with Harry Maguire. He seems like a top bloke and I think it would be a laugh.

Up The Saddlers.
I have to be front and centre on photos.

We moved on to The Old Contemptibles. They had a beer on called Hat-Trick. As a Walsall fan I’ve not seen a hat trick in years so I jumped on that. It was a cracking pint.

A man I don’t know joined the group and was offering to buy people cigars. Two ladies took him up on this. He didn’t offer me one which I didn’t mind. I’m a non smoker but I did have three cigars around the turn of the millennium and another at a wedding in 2019. I do have a cigar on my bedside table which I intend to smoke after the next time I’ve had a lovely lady round for sexy time, mind it’s that old now it’ll probably fall to pieces when I unwrap it.

Final call of the night was The Colmore, a cracking Thornbridge pub. I’m an absolute disciple to Thornbridge Brewery so this place is always good to visit although it did get negative press on Twitter when @StymieSi was turned away as they were only letting women in at that juncture. His blogs are great so give him a follow. Anyway, our group was now down to just five men but this policy wasn’t in place this time and we were allowed in.

I usually get the last train home but I’m a bit more grown up now so I opt for the safety net of the penultimate train, which I got.

It was an absolutely superb day.

The A-W & Y-Z Of Unticked Walsall Eateries. Part 3.

There are more new places to eat opening in Walsall. Not that I needed any additional motivation but this spurred me on to visit more places for the first time.

G. German Donner Kebab. 1A Littleton Street, Wisemore. Walsall.

I’d only heard good things about this place and as I was preparing to visit along came one of my best friends Swill with the first bad review. This made me even more keen to visit.

What a place.

My mate Dave came along for this review. This place is always rammed when I pass it but on this visit it was much quieter which I had absolutely no problem with. Service was quick, I was handed a disc thing, like a yoyo without the string and I left Dave to it at the counter and went to find a booth.

I started to make notes and auto correct changed the name to German Downer Kebab, but this certainly wasn’t the case. Suddenly the disc thing started buzzing and flashing red. I picked it up. Do I sit here or will someone come over? I looked round. “That’s yours” Dave said very helpfully. “Yes I know” I snapped back. Fortunately the waitress arrived with my food and the buzzing stopped.

Confusion causing disc thingy.

The meat options were beef or chicken. Puzzled by the choice of beef kebab I went for both (naturally, I am a fat greedy sod). I also had a Cherry Tango Ice Blast. Think Slush Puppy with a more modern trendy brand name.

Yum yum yum.

Dave had a £4 doner panini. He said he enjoyed it and was going to visit again which shocked me on both counts as normally he only eats pickled onions.

This was a great visit. When I picked this place for this letter I really hit the g spot. And it’s not often I can say that.

E. Elliot’s Cafe, Norton Road. Pelsall.

It was St George’s Day. I needed breakfast. I took a pleasant bus ride to Pelsall and called in here. I was immediately confused. To the left was the dining area which was cordoned off, but had one man sat in there, and to the right was one table with a couple sat at it. As I pondered what I had to do, one of the couple on the right ordered me to go up the counter. I must have had a neon sign above my head saying “first time visitor”.

Proper traditional cafe.

I approached the counter and asked if I could eat in, and the man said stuff along the lines of once you’ve paid you can sit down. Unfortunately the breakfasts were listed on the far side of the cordoned off area. They were also listed behind the counter but in writing too small for my eyes to contend with. I’d come for breakfast not an eye test. I pondered taking my glasses off, covering one eye and saying very slowly “I would like the medium breakfast etc” but even I am not that childish. The man started to explain the breakfasts but I am really not good at being put on the spot so I just opted for medium. I paid and the man then released the cordon like a bouncer letting you into the VIP area.

I sat down and was making notes when more people came in. I heard one order orange juice which I didn’t pay much attention too until he sat down. It was in a milk bottle like you used to get delivered in the 80’s. I was always jealous walking to school of people with orange juice on their door steps. I was tempted to go and order one for myself but I was far too excited.

Breakfast arrived it contained the two longest sausages that I have ever had on a breakfast, which was ace. The toast was cut correctly (horizontally) as well.

The food was good, quickly devoured and enjoyed but as I had the last mouthful a young couple walked in and they both had orange juice. I took this as a sign that God wanted me to have one, and well you have to keep him happy don’t you? So I grabbed one, smuggled it on the bus and drank it on the steps of The Saddlers Centre. This was a good visit.

More of this should be happening.

V. Village Chippy, 110 Lichfield Road. Rushall.

A while ago I appealed on Twitter for places that do battered chips in the borough of Walsall and this place got a couple of nods, so it was added to this to do list.

As I walked in I saw two signs marked up as “The Tasty Favourites”. I was shocked to see salad on one of these. Right, I’m not going to beat about the bush. Salad is shit. It’s not tasty and it’s nobody’s favourite, but I guess 0 out of 2 aint bad.

So salad is tasty but not mouthwatering enough to make this sign.

I opted for a cone of chips and to my delight the salt went on first which as you may remember I said was the right way in part 2 of this ridiculous series although upon publishing that one I found out I was very much in the minority :-).

They had a mossiv jar of pickled eggs which guarantees them entry into The Good Chippy Guide when I finally get round to writing that. Estimated publishing date early 2029. I’m quite lazy so it could be late 2029, but don’t stick it on your Christmas wish list that year just in case.

A good visit to be fair.

L. Lucky Star. 22 Lower Rushall Street. Walsall.

This was Eat Well for many years which I was a regular visitor to but I’ve not been since it changed hands and name. It’s now the 3rd Walsall venue named after a Madonna song following Vogue and Fever.

It’s more bright and airy than it used to be and feels bigger. The fish tank and those net curtains have gone. There is just one stool in the form of furnishings so if you are taking the good lady in your life prepare to stand while she sits down. Newspapers to read whilst waiting are no longer available.

Anyway the counters has screens up. One side says “order here” and the other “pay here”. I didn’t realise until afterwards that I had done both transactions at the “pay here” side. I’m such a law breaking badass.

I opted for the butterfly king prawns starter which comes with sweet and sour sauce. King prawn fried rice was the main. Bit king prawn heavy I appreciate. Good job that I like them.

It didn’t take long for the food to arrive but in the meantime I enjoyed the clanking of pans noises that you only get in Chinese takeaways.

Because this place is a 15 minute walk from my house I was worried that the food would be cold when I got home and I would have to deduct them points for this. As a football fan I am used to harsh points deductions being handed out. Fortunately I am good friends with Jason the landlord of The Victoria (Katz) pub next door and I’d been given permission to eat my food in there.

Lucky Star with licensed seating are next door.

The food was really good, I wolfed it down whilst getting much attention from one of the locals dog, who then didn’t want to know me when I’d finished. It was washed down with a pint of Muscle Mary which is a raspberry blush cider, whatever that means.

You can absolutely be my Lucky Star.

J. John Street Cafe. John Street. Walsall.

There are two doorways for this place and the nearest one has a big plant behind it so move onto the next one which lets you in.

It was strange walking down John Street, not to visit The Pretty Bricks.

In here you have to choose between beans or tomatoes on your breakfast, This is good. Tomatoes are evil and you shouldn’t have to request to opt out of them when you order.

I went for the medium breakfast, yes medium again. I really feel like my days of large and extra large breakfasts are behind me. I paid extra for fried bread and despite tea or coffee being included I opted for a can of pop also. Following the grave announcement that the Lemon variant of Fanta (my fave in that range) is being is being discontinued at the end of May I went for one of those. Had I got a rucksack with me I would have had every can of it out the fridge. The whole meal came to £5.50 which was excellent.

Music was being provided by Greatest Hits Radio and it was Charmless Man by Blur as I made my way to the table. What a tune.

Walsall FC chat with Mark the owner occurred whilst I was waiting which is always good.

The food arrived and it was very yummy, although when the radio started playing Everybody Dance by Chic there was almost some disruption to my munching. I like a boogie as much as the next man but it’s hard to dance and clap your hands clap your hands whilst shovelling egg on toast into your big gob so I resisted the urge and remained seated.

I most certainly will not dance. I’m demolishing this.

This was a nice, relaxed visit topped with Bar the Landlord of The Pretty Bricks making an appearance.

Right, that’s it for this edition. 10 More reviews to go, unless of course somewhere beginning with X suddenly opens, please let me know if one does. Cheers. Bye.

Early Out The Blocks In Bloxwich.

On Saturday there was a Walsall CAMRA social in Bloxwich. Now this place is always a great pub crawl but there is a couple of boozers that always get missed as they are not on the main drag. So I opted to head over early and visit these two before joining everyone else.

After the standard warm welcome and excellent breakfast at Jack & Ada’s I jumped on the 31 and was soon in Bloxwich. First up was The Spring Cottage. A pub I’ve not been in for over a decade.

First thing that caught my eye were the baps. Three plates of em. I’ve not seen them piled so high before. I love a pub cob but with breakfast still very fresh in my memory I opted to be good and not have one.

How about them baps eh?

The Liverpool match was on so despite it being early there were no vacant tables. I launched myself up on a stool by the bar, which took some doing I tell thee, and as soon as I’d had my first sip, Paul a lad i know headed over. I’d completely missed him as I did my search for a table. He invited me to join his table so I climbed back down off the stool. Which was quicker than the ascent.

In the toilet was a selection of deodorants and after shaves which was a nice touch. I opted for a spray of Milano Wealth. I’ve not been to Milan and I’ll never know wealth but it made me smell good so I’ll take that.

Very nice touch this.

Next on the agenda was The Romping Cat, which is a great pub and a stunning looking building in my opinion. It also has a cracking name. The pint of Boon Doggle was in great nick, barman friendly and welcoming and it was a good visit.

Beautiful.

It was time to meet the others so I headed to New Invention Brewery. My friends Sean and Lauren were here which was a bonus, two other Walsall CAMRA members were here too and Karol the friendly welcoming owner was all smiles as usual. There were 15 keg beers, 2 cask and a fridge full of cans to choose from. The Hazy In Love cask was ace.

What a place.

Me and Sean had the usual football discussions, mainly on potential away trips for next season. He then rejoined Lauren at the bar while myself and the Walsall CAMRA members talked abut the branch. I was urged to reconsider stepping down as Chairman but it really isn’t working and we need new leadership.

I then perused the food menu and caused outrage by saying that onion only belongs on cheese and onion cobs and should not be on pizzas or in curry where you have to fish them out.

Next up was The Wheatsheaf and a toilet visit was required. In there was an absolute top lad, Luke Jennings who was one of the great people I met at The Fitters Arms. I’ve not seen him in years so we had to hug even though we were in the bogs. He is the best karaoke singer I’ve known. First time I heard him it was like “wow”.

Me and Luke, not in the toilet.

I returned to the bar and Dennis was having a discussion with the landlord as to how big the head of a pint should be and haggling as to the degree of CAMRA discount on offer. The landlord tried to bring me into it but I went into shy mode and instead went off to search for any Walsall FC representation amongst the sea of Aston Villa/Man Utd/Liverpool bunting. I found a mirror and a flag along with lots of England stuff from St George’s Day so I was happy.

We split up from here and I went onto The Queen’s Head. Pie and pint was order of the day here, although I had to pay for them separately which threw me and I ended up counting out two piles of shrapnel. I felt a bit like Scrooge. Anyway the barmaid dashed off to get me a fork before I had chance to say I didn’t need one because I’m uncouth.

The pub was busy but without music. Then someone approached the jukebox. I really try not to pre judge people but when this happens I always guess if they will put on something shit. I had faith in this lady and she didn’t let me down. She chose Break My Stride by Matthew Wilder. What an absolute banger. The next lady put on 3 Arctic Monkeys songs which also went down a storm. Nothing came on after Fluorescent Adolescent so I moved on via the toilet.

The toilets here have an old school scales set which costs 20p. I declined this. I have women in Walsall Town Centre come up and tell me I’m fat for free so I don’t need to pay to glean this knowledge. I put the 20p back in my pocket and used it later towards kebab meat and chips.

No thanks, and sadly I had no need for the machine to the left either.

Last mission in Bloxwich was to head to the Wetherspoons and as a nod to Matthew Wilder nothing was gonna break my stride. It’s right by the bus stop so had to be done. Last week I had my first pint of mild in 30 years so here I went totally left field and had a stout. I hadn’t heard of the brewery and they had me with the word choclatey on the pump clip. It was very good.

Another great looking building.
Chocolatey.

On the bus back I had a message from our Treasurer Frank who was heading to the Black Country Arms so after the aforementioned kebab meat goodness I ventured there.

Frank was upstairs and as I approached his table David Clarke another Walsall fan emerged from the toilet. I always bump into him outside toilets. And we always hug. Hugging inside and outside of toilets on the same day? I’ll be getting a reputation.

After a quick pint we rounded the day off in Katz. Mr Clarke joined us, and Sean& Lauren from earlier also showed so it was a cracking end to a top day but I was done in so headed home, even getting a taxi which is so unlike me.

Bloxwich you were ace. I’ll be back soon.

By George What A Day.

April 23rd. St George’s Day, and England’s turn to have a few drinks and get a bit patriotic. It’s my favourite day of the year although I’m sure that won’t come as a surprise to anyone.

As is tradition on this day, it’s English music only as I get ready this time opting for “Waking Up” by Elastica, “From Rush Hour With Love” by Republica and rounding things off with “Why Won’t You Give Me Your Love?” by The Zutons.

I’d made no plans for supping as I’d got a mission in the morning which I had no idea what time I’d be back in town from plus my usual pre match drinking buddies weren’t about so after a bus journey and a decent breakfast (more on that in another blog) I found myself on the steps of The Saddlers Centre, watching the world go by and thoroughly enjoying a bottle of orange juice. This moment of serenity wasn’t to last as I noticed religious looking people opposite preparing leaflets and musical instruments so I decided that this was a good time to disappear.

I had an idea of who would be in which pubs so I headed to The Black Country Arms and in there was the top lad Dave Roe and his mate Mark. I had a pint of Oakham Citra but it was a new version. T60 or T90, I can’t quite remember. It was definitely a cassette number either way. Anyway it was a great drink and it was just nice to have a St George’s Day pint inside a pub for the first time since 2019, what with them all being closed in 2020 and the bizarre rule of having to sit outside in 2021.

There were some away fans in the pub and as I entered the toilets one of them looked me up and down and started singing “we ate Walsall and we ate Walsall”. I ignored him but I was a bit confused as I squared up to the urinal. ‘You ate my town?’ I pondered. He clearly hadn’t eaten this building. Perhaps he was saving it for dessert. I did wonder if the insurance I have on my house covers it for being eaten.

After a very pleasant hour I popped to Katz and they had the Titanic “Raspberry Pale” on so I dived straight on that, much to the disgust of the man next to me who wanted know why I was drinking such a disgusting beer. “Er, cause I like it”. It was the best answer I could come up with at such short notice.

Katz in patriotic mood.

Anyway I got to the match, we won 2-0 and everyone loved it. I saw both goals as well. Very jovial drinks followed in The Bescot Bar and then we headed to The Tap & Tanner in town. There were a good bunch of Walsall fans already in there so we joined them. There was also reserved seats which I have never seen in there before. Good to see that St George’s Day supping is now so popular that people have to reserve tables. It’s possible that the tables may have been reserved for the Tyson Fury fight but that wouldn’t suit my narrative.

I accidentally sat in a reserved seat and was swiftly evicted when the occupants arrived.

It was a great time in there. The highlights being “Twist & Shout” by Chaka Demus & Pliers, the rendition of Sweet Caroline which raised the roof and Dan Gilbert and myself having a crazy dance to “Maniac”.

Loved this in the doorway of The Tap.

Epic times.

The A-W & Y-Z Of Unticked Walsall Eateries, Part 2.

Yep, I’ve been wandering around visiting more food places and eating lots. All good. Here are the next 5 reviews.

B. Bun & Wings, Ablewell Street. Walsall.

This place opened on March 7th. I was peckish and impatient and went in that day. Situated in what was Nessa’s, a curry house where I always wanted to shout “oh, what’s occurring?” upon entry, and I still had the urge to do it this time despite the name change.

Crap angle due to infuriating roadworks.

My colleague Lindsey misheard when I announced I was visiting here and thought I’d said Bum & Wings, which sounds like a Kat Slater Bo’ Selecta! spin off show.

The place was busy on arrival but I got served quickly. I was going to have a soft drink but changed my mind when I saw someone going at the machine with a screwdriver so I had a milkshake instead which was epic. I had the kebab meat cheeseburger which was messy, good messy though and was very enjoyable. I would have had wings too but I had a bus journey to a Walsall CAMRA meeting to get to so time was short. Food good, friendly welcoming staff and a great first visit.

As good as what you’d get in Kelis’s yard.
This, I can get on board with.

S. Scabby Oss Cafe, King Street. Darlaston.

This is a new cafe that opened in February and a big thanks to Lindsey for flagging this one up to me.

A friendly welcome was received and my £4.50 medium breakfast arrived quickly and it was good. I polished the lot off.

The two members off staff were going out of their way to check things were okay with the customers.

I liked the way the coasters and mugs all had the scabby oss logo on them, and it was a nice relaxed place with a fair few fellow diners. I don’t get to Darlaston often nowadays but I’ll give this another visit soon.

As the saying goes “I could eat a scabby oss”.

P. Pisces. Wolverhampton Road. Walsall.

I’m a Taurus. I have all the traits, loyal, stubborn etc. One of the best star signs that Taurus is compatible with is Pisces, so I had to tick this place off although I don’t really bother with astrology nowadays having been let down several times by Mystic Meg.

I no longer need a bus pass for work and this was the last day of having one before it expired so I jumped on a 529 from town. Whilst I hate that bus service, it’s is okay when going for food on a sunny evening rather than work at 6.40 on a cold dark morning.

I walked in and the lady behind the counter was having the conversation of her life on the phone, which was okay as it gave me chance to peruse the menu. It was quite a call and I thought she really should have waited until after 6 o’clock when it’s cheaper. Is that still a thing? I’d like to think so.

Anyway, I went for £5 mini fish and chips. The lady served up, applied vinegar then salt which I really thought she had got the wrong way round. She then lifted the fish and applied more salt. She closed the lid, opened it again and applied more salt. At my old job we sold 25kg sacks of salt and I wondered if she’d ordered a couple of these too many and was trying to shift the stock. I also made a mental note to not a book a blood pressure test for the foreseeable future.

The food was okay. Nothing special. I probably won’t rush back here.

M. Mother Hubbard’s, Pleck Road. Walsall.

This place opened in September last year and as an opening offer sold fish and chips at 45p for the first 1000 customers. The local press picked up on this reporting the queues as being 3 miles long. Seriously Walsall has not seen queues like since tickets for our first visit to Wembley went on sale in 2015 (and to a lesser degree when Rocky IV opened at the ABC cinema) https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/black-country/massive-three-mile-queues-9am-21492929

Jane and myself had found the Blackpool branch of this chain on my recent visit to there and it was ace so i was eager to see if the Walsall one could compare. Had the man from Del Monte been with me he would definitely have said yes.

There was a friendly welcome, the lad clocked my Walsall FC hat and fleece and engaged in a quick bit of small talk. I ordered the fish and chips along with gravy and obligatory can of Apple Tango.

Do it. Do it now,

Whilst awaiting my food I checked the decor, 6 massive pictures of Walsall landmarks, and in the ceiling was a long screen showing what I guessed to be Finding Nemo characters.

The food arrived quickly and it was ace. Chips chunky, fish amazing and the gravy was stodgy, how it should be. The guy behind the counter said I could shout if I needed anything and upon departing checked that I’d enjoyed my food. Good customer service. My God, this was a superb visit. I’m drooling as I type this and I shall be going back soon. It’s a 15 minute walk from work so it’s happening again soon. I can see me visiting so often they’ll take out a restraining order. You need to check this place out.

£8.85 for this lot.

H. Hot Wok, Wednesbury Road. Walsall.

Another new place, this one just a few weeks old and located on the edge of Wednesbury Road a stones throw from the legendary Hillary Street. First thing that I noticed were the two televisions on the wall. Both switched off. I never watch the tv in the house so it was nice that they had made this effort to make me feel at home.

Another crap angle as I didn’t want the staff to see me taking the picture.

It was food ordering time and I was thrown at being asked my name as this has never happened before and I was the only customer. I was going for the box meal. First you have to give the size regular or large (large obvs), then your base, egg fried rice, egg noddles or chips (I can eat rice all day long so only one winner there). Finally it’s the good stuff and it’s chicken (yum yum), Vegetable (retching at the thought of this), beef (potential) or for an extra pound prawn (I adore prawns but I’m also a tight wad) so I opted for chicken. Finally there is a choice of sauce. Now I know I’m a writer and I love a word count but I can’t be arsed to list the sauces. Sorry.

I stepped back from the counter, got my phone out to make notes and went straight into my own little world. I was startled when the chef called out Mikee (and pronounced it correctly). I’d only written a few words. Excellent speedy service.

There is nowhere to sit inside so I went outside and within seconds an 11A (nee 313) bus arrived so I jumped on that. The benches outside St Paul’s Church have long since disappeared so I sat behind the big headed fountain thing on The Bridge and tucked in. It was really good, but next time I’m going for the sweet butter prawn and king prawn fingers. Determined to have that goodness without paying the extra pound.

If you really want to know the sauces, here they are. I went for Kung Po.

That’s it for this edition. I’m looking forward to the next 5 although my Z choice has closed down so that needs a rethink. Cheers.