Monday was Freedom Day in England, face masks were no longer mandatory and finally you could walk around a pub not looking like you were about to perform open heart surgery. So how did I mark this occasion? I went to the pub. A group that I’m in Friends Of Highgate Brewery were having their first meet up in around 18 months at the Black Country Arms and it had to be done. It was a beautiful stroll there in glorious sunshine and the bells of St Matthew’s Church were in full flow which doesn’t happen often these days. It really was an uplifting walk.

I walked in the pub, without signing in and headed up to the bar, and what sight was awaiting? The BCA has 20 handpulls but of late all the pump clips have been turned round. But now bar ordering is allowed they were all front facing. Begging for my attention. Enticing me to walk closer. So I did. A purchase of a pint of Ossett Brewery “Butterley” later and I was outside having great discussions with folks that I’ve not seen for what felt like decades. They had also put some food on. Which included red onion and cheese cobs. I shunned onions for pretty much 44 of my 47 years on this Earth and would always remove them from these cobs, then one day I just couldn’t be arsed and ate them. And I’ve done so ever since, but these red onions were the type that make you think you nose is going to explode. Absolutely amazing and a great gesture from the pub to provide munchies.

It’s good to be back on the pulls.

I stayed for a few more beers. I’m a disciple to Thornbridge Brewery and I saw a beer of theirs that I hadn’t had before “Brother Rabbit” so I went on that and it was excellent. Now that you can stand in pubs, I paused long enough to take a picture of my favourite part of the pub (other than the bar) which is of some framed Walsall FC shirts. And then I called it a night. The bells were ringing out for Freedom Day, and I didn’t get called a scumbag, maggot or cheap lousy faggot.

For the weekend my mate Craig was stopping over at mine and I was meeting him at Rock Steady Eddie’s. Unfortunately the buses weren’t playing nicely coming out of work so he, having got there earlier than planned was already on pint no 4 and had got me the same on the table so I could catch up. Now, I like a bit of a booze, you may have gathered that, but even I was a bit hesitant at catching up on 4 pints. So we haggled and he had one of them.

Upon arrival at Eddie’s my jukebox enemy was in the doorway but he moved to let me pass without acknowledgement, so I marched past. It’s a good job Craig was outside or Mr Enemy would have been walking back into the sounds of “The Beginning Of The Twist” by The Futureheads, the class tune that started our beef.

From there we had a pleasant pint in The Pretty Bricks, then onto The Oak Inn to bother the quiz machine, which inspired by the buses also wasn’t playing nicely. A couple of lemon and lime ciders in Katz followed and then we had to hit Flan O’Briens which was finally reopening that day. It shut before the November lockdown so it was good to have it back. It’s a vital pub for the town and we need it. It was a great time in the, the highlight being a bit of Cathy Dennis. From there we headed over the road to Blue Gingers for a much needed curry to end the night.

Saturday we popped over to Rushall to clean out the quizzer. £11 on Pointless? Thank you very much, then it was The Walsall Arms. The Salopian Lemon Dream was in good nick although an accident with the hand sanitiser left a bit of a blemish in an area of my shorts were you don’t need a sight like that. Fortunately we were not partaking in the now allowed standing and it quickly dried so no harm done.

From there we moved onto The Watering Trough, which is known as Walsall’s rock pub. We bought our pints, plonked ourselves down on the settee’s and what comes on? Red Red Wine. For once me and Mr Jukebox Enemy would have been on the same page. We supped up, didn’t make our apologies and left.

We moved onto The Lyndon house and had a pint in the back garden. The tent has now been removed so you can now enjoy all the flowers. It’s such a peaceful place and it’s instant serenity. Seated on the next table was a fellow Walsall FC fan. His opening gambit was “I’ve known you for years but I don’t know how to pronounce your name is it Evo? Or Evo? I confirmed that it is Evo and that the people behind the new Vodaphone advert have got it totally wrong. I then let it slip that our beloved team had won 5-0 today which he didn’t know. I apologised for the spoiler and ruining his watching of Match Of The Day on the night. He then revealed he hadn’t been to a game for two seasons due to work but had swapped shifts and could now attend again. He’s that impressed with the changes at the club this Summer that he’s bought his first season ticket since the days of Fellows Park (our wonderful home ground until 1990).

Some of the Lyndon flowers.
The toilet seat in the Lyndon looks very shocked at me having a wee without a mask on.

From there we headed back to Katz for more lemon and lime cider. The barman who calls me Andy was behind the decks in the new outdoor disco set up, then it was back to Blue Gingers for more curry goodness and we dashed up to the Walsall Arms to round the night off. There was an Abba tribute act and then a bit of a disco and it was superb in there. Craig decided we need Baileys and enjoyed his so much we stayed for another. We had a great time and they didn’t need to bring out the huge inflatable Unicorn water sprinkler which had been the highlight of the previous Sunday’s entertainment. If you ever want to pretend that you’re in the 5ive video for “Let’s Dance” just simply dance around while a giant inflatable Unicorn sprays water over you from above.

What a week it’s been.