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.