When You Have To Cue Up A Pub Challenge.

Back in July 2017 I started a pub challenge of ticking off 365 pubs in 365 days. It was my third time of doing this having really enjoyed the first two, but all those previously ticked off boozers were now ineligible which made things harder but for a bit of added fun I decided to see if I could also do a snooker style 147 by visiting pubs with those appropriate colours in their names. Sadly I’d ticked off the Black Country Arms on the 2nd challenge, as a nice 7 point haul just 10 minutes walk away from my house would have been nice but I was more than happy to cast the net further in the lookout for these colourful pubs.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to mention all 36 pubs that featured as even though I know it’s lock down, there are still big Sunday dinners to devour and televised football matches to partake in.

July gleaned just 10 points. Inn On The Green in Acocks Green kicked things off where I had a couple of great pints whilst playing on retro gaming machines, and then whilst on the Walsall CAMRA trip to Leeds, as I arrived back at the coach I spotted The Black Prince opposite so I demolished a pint in there whilst watching more eager people boarding our vehicle home.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Berwick Rangers FC so whilst debating where to spend August bank holiday I discovered that the town had 2 Red Lion’s and a Brown Bear. It had to be done. Some excellent pubs in this town and it’s well worth a visit. The Red Lion in the Spittal area was the pick of the 3 pubs that gave me 6 points that weekend and it was definitely my kind of place. It’s called a “mans pub” on whatpub.com and as I’m a proper man I’m allowed to agree. Now bear with me while I eat a Yorkie Bar.

September started with the Red Lion in Ramsgate. AC/DC on the jukebox, a win on the quiz machine and a big smile off a lass on the way out made this one of the best points of the challenge. The only other points this month were at The Black Horse in Hinckley, where Dave and myself were intrigued by a large poster advertising the following weeks entertainment. Miss Thunderpussy. The landlord was very welcoming but he was no Miss Thunderpussy.

December saw The Blue Bell in Nottingham potted. 14 points were earned in Northampton with The Black Prince where Dave’s cider looked like a 3am piss after a night on mustard smoothies (I told him, the barmaid and everyone in the vicinity this) and Old Black Horse which was busy with fellow Walsall fans and a barman who was just closing. I couldn’t say “mate I’ve got 7 points riding on this, please serve us” so I went down the much trendier road of pleading for a quick pint before the train. It worked.


The last point of the year was in the fantastic Red Lion in Stone although this visit was a bit more sedate than my previous one which was with a coachload of very excited Walsall fans. We were heading to a match where we hoped to get promoted. We won the match 5-0 but didn’t go up.


2018 started in Kidderminster with The Penny Black featuring a woman having the place up because the coffee machine wasn’t working. Nobody was getting alcohol until she got caffeine and The Red Man was a decent solid boozer. Another Penny Black this time in Tamworth treated us to pretty awful music until Jane and I made for the door and they unfurled the classic that is Professional Widow by Tori Amos. Their cunning plan to make us stay failed though as our next port of call was Hogarths Gin Palace so it would have needed something with the magnitude of Avenging Angels by Space to make defer us our next pit stop.


February saw the most bizarre day. An arduous trip to Buckinghamshire to tick off the only pub in the country with pink in its name. Friendly locals in the Black Lion in Naphill were most intrigued about the mission, one of them even gave us a lift to the village of Lacey Green where the Black Horse gleaned us more points. Another very welcome lift from a regular in The Whip Inn to the main attraction of the day The Pink & Lily in Parslows Hillock. We were so pleased to see it open after someone in the first pub of the day The Golden Cross had suggested it was closed after the landlord had left on the Thursday. Not what you want to hear after just 100 miles of a 200 mile round trip. Thankfully it was open with three very friendly barmaids serving. We accidentally stayed for a couple of hours.

6 points in Buckinghamshire.


In March I ticked off The Red Lion in Tipton which was very much my kind of pub and with the added bonus of samosas.There were soon two less for sale. Evesham has two red pubs, Ye Olde Red Horse and The Red Lion both of which had very welcome fires although one lady in the former chucked half of her pint on it (I didn’t follow suit), and the other kept me warm as I perused the 2004 Good Beer Guide.


Easter was spent in the north east with the Red Lion and Black Swan in Darlington being very friendly pubs. The Yellow Rose in Middlesbrough was packed full of their towns footie fans watching their home game against Wolves. I kept my accent to myself in there whilst down the road The Red Lion wasn’t showing the game but playing Celine Dion songs instead. My accent did come out to join in with a couple of those. I even broke strict pub challenge rules and stayed for a second pint so that I could finish my rendition of It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.


There was still 14 points up for grabs in the north east before I headed home in the guise of The Black Garter in Newcastle which wasn’t overly friendly, compounded by a bloke coming up behind me after I’d been waiting a good few minutes to be served, he shouted his order to a barmaid which was accepted and he then got arsey with me for being in his way when he tried to pick up his beers. I still hadn’t been served. I liked The Black Bull in Gateshead where I was the only customer (it was early afternoon) but I had two parrots, some model skeletons, a pirate and a friendly barmaid for company.


One of the highlights of the weekend other than the great pubs, beers, and friendly ladies was sitting on the table next to the one Walsall FC play off final hero Don Goodman was sat at for breakfast. He’d been in town commentating on the Middlesbrough match. I was too scared to speak to him but we did have a good natter when we were introduced at the re-opening night of The Beacon Way in Bloxwich.

Me and Super Donny Goodman. In Bloxwich, not Middlesbrough.

In April Jane suggested a pub crawl of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Jewellery Quarter? Me? I’m not exactly bling, and I’m crap at maths so don’t like fractions but there was a Red Lion available. It was a pricey round but it was a good visit, especially when at the urinal I heard the phrase I always like when out of town. “You’re a Walsall fan aren’t you?” Always good to meet a fellow Saddler, we had introductions (once I’d put my willy away), a quick chat about our beloved team and he’d added me on Facebook before I finished using the hand drier.

One point in The Jewellery Quarter, which is one more than if I’d thrown 3 darts at the board behind me.


Another side arm to the main challenge along with this snooker one was my aim to have beer in 12 former Football League towns, so on St George’s Day Dave and myself jumped on a Megabus to Manchester with the aim of visiting 4 of these, namely Northwich, Stockport, Stalybridge and Glossop. The Penny Black in Northwich was first up. The pump clip said my beer was £2.19 a pint. The barmaid said £1.89, I handed over my 50p off CAMRA voucher and dealt at £1.39. Absolute bargain. The Red Lion in Stockport was an odd visit. Dave cracked a joke loudly, which was so dreadful the pub went quiet. I referenced the joke killing the pub in my notepad but not what the actual line was, and I write down everything. It must have been bad for me to not minute it. Anyway it was still a good visit, and the lady serving was amazing and won Barmaid Of The Challenge if I remember rightly.


We didn’t pick up anymore points on the snooker challenge that day but did hit all 4 towns. However Dave caused us to miss our scheduled train out of Glossop and then proceeded to spend the extra hour while we waited for the next one pissing off everyone he encountered. I instead sat at the bars of the two pubs drinking and looking really cool. My default setting. I do intend to return to the Dark Peak one day to see if he has got us barred forever from Glossop.


In May The Little Black Pug in Blackpool was to be visited after our match at Fleetwood but my mate Swill went awol which totally scuppered that plan (he was drinking and having a great time with his flat battery mobile phone while I was frantic with worry, thinking he’d been thrown out the match or something like). he’d actually left the match at half time to go back into Blackpool drinking. The match was dreadful and I wish I’d thought of that. To make up for it the following day he drove me to The Black Boy in Knowle where a very nice pint in the sun by the canal was well earned after a bit of a wait to be served.

Me and Swill, a best friend of mine for over 40 years at The Black Boy in Knowle.


The final needed points arrived in June. Myself, Mase and Sean had a long awaited pub crawl of Camden, which was an exceptional day including the Black Heart. I was slightly down in that pub though having spotted a jar on the bar of the previous pub The Worlds End that was labelled “tip and you get laid”. I tipped and subsequently didn’t get laid, but I appreciate that I am the guy that could go to a knockin shop and come out sexually frustrated.


The last 7 points needed came in one of my favourite towns Bewdley. There are two pubs called Black Boy in Bewdley so me and Mase opted for the one up the hill with a superb Ludlow Gold in a great beer garden including a pond. Just to be sociable we ticked off the other one by the station on the way back too.

Mase and I potting the final black in Bewdley.


So I made the 147 with about a week to spare. I was flapping about getting the final points in as the deadline approached, but ended up managing to squeeze in The Black Swan in Rugby too, which we only visited as my mate Daz reckoned it looked like our kind of pub. It was. I loved doing this snooker based lark and it really reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the main 365 challenge which was beginning to wane after just a month, and I finished that on a personal best of 407. (Pub challenge 1 saw me hit 404 pubs from a target of 365 and version 2 which I did over a leap year to afford me an extra day and pub saw me apologetically crawl over the line with 367 pubs with a target of 366).


I’m sorry to end the article on a low note though. We forgot to go back and see Miss Thunderpussy.

Some Of What’s Occuring.

It’s been an odd few days and I’ve not really had any ideas for the usual style article so he’s a look at things that have been going on this week.

P-Lenty To Be Glum About.
This year has been proper poo already and what do we get to raise spirits? Lent. I was never a fan of Lent even as a kid when I actually got pancakes the day before. And nowadays when I don’t get any due to the two can’ts situation (cook and be arsed) it’s even worse. This year though I’m giving it a crack. I’ve given up sweets, chocolate, crisps, chip shop and scratchcards. With the pubs closed, these items have been my main source of spending. 40 days without those new KFC crisps or getting 2 £100,000’s out of three on a bit of card? Whatever shall I spend my money on? Well if Lent was another 3 months long I’d probably save enough to buy a Kentucky Fried Chicken clock (and afford the postage from America) that I’ve found on E-Bay.


I was tested early doors with an Ash Thursday visit to B&M where as soon as you walk through the door Fry’s lemon Turkish Delights and also Lion Bars are waiting to pounce on you . Fortunately willpower is strong in this one and I marched past the lot and headed for the bottles of toffee apple cider, which needless to say I haven’t given up.


I stuck to my tradition of marking Ash Wednesday by playing two songs by Ash, this time opting for Orpheus and A Life Less Ordinary. And I think we’d all take a life less ordinary at the moment. Open the pubs Boris.


We’re On A Road To Somewhere – Hopefully.
Talking of Boris, he is announcing his road map tomorrow. I’m a bit geeky with road maps despite having not driven a car since 1995 when I was absolutely robbed on my driving test.No VAR in those days. This geekyness helped me get all 10 on a round about motorways on Tenable recently. Yep, I’m hooked on Tenable. It’s one of my must watch tv shows along with Filthy House SOS and Find It, Fix It, Flog It. Anyway I’ve digressed but it links in with how I’ve taken to watching television during lockdown, which is hopefully starting to end with tomorrows announcement. I think we can write off going to football this season but hopefully we will be back in pubs soon. I just wanna see my mates. But after Thursday’s events I’m worrying that there will soon be a Mars variant of Covid and Matt Hancock will launch a fleet of spaceships like on 1980’s classic tv show V, and they will zap you if you sit on a bench or look longingly at a pub.

Just Another Test I Never Revised For.
So we had a bit of drama at work on Monday when someone in the office tested positive for Covid 19. We were all sent out to get tested and not return until we got our results. My test was in Walsall Town Hall. Well as future Mayor of this great town it seemed only right to visit during company time. I am more used to going there for beer festivals though and I’ve seen people there gag at drinking ale that didn’t agree with them, I didn’t think that one day I’d be gagging myself due to a long swab going down my throat. The last time I gagged this much was when I first tried the absolute Kryptonite that is cauliflower. I was really edgy on the bus there but I should have been relaxed. I’m so behind the times I’d have probably only caught Covid 12 or 13, and there’s bound to be plenty of vaccines for those. I tested negative, neatly matching my general approach to life.

Just what you want to see on a Monday morning.


Is That A Magnum In Your Pocket?
A story that I saw this week involved a man being jailed after trying to steal a bottle of champagne from M&S by sticking it down his pants. The report left me with questions. I don’t hold back on details when telling a story, even if they are grim so newspapers should report everything. What size was the bottle would be first. It it’s one of the big boys then any subsequent police chase and it would have been like watching Linford Christie win Olympic gold. Also, what was his plan for afterwards? Approach the missus whilst unbuttoning his fly and asking “jizz or fizz me darlin?” Yeah, perhaps it’s best that I’m not an investigative reporter.


Grim Pub News.
Word reached me this week that we are losing the King George V . I was too young but would have loved to have gone for a drink there before going to the game across the road at Fellows Park (our home ground until 1990 for non Saddler readers). You could have left the pub at 3.10, and still seen most of the first half. I bet it was amazing in there during those days. It’s another blow to the pre/post Walsall FC match day social scene though. Town or Fullbrook for me then when we’re back.


A highlight of that pub was many moons ago and a quiz night. We’d clearly been hit by injuries or international call ups so only two of us attended. At half time there was a bonus round where the prize was 8 free pints. The team that could name the most football clubs out of the main 92 beginning with B would get the prize. Jane had written them all down and handed the paper in before some teams had picked up their pens. I think I’d just about mustered Barnet and Bristol Rovers. Jane wasn’t in a drinking mood and I think she only had one of the pints, and they had to be consumed that evening so she left me to set about the rest. Which I did. I don’t recall much of the second half of the quiz. Those memories have more holes in them than a colander full of Polo Mints.

Oh Darrell, I Am But A Fool.
Well I didn’t see that coming (the manager of my football team walking out on us to join a team below us in the table that we have beaten twice this season). It wasn’t working but I thought he was going nowhere until his contract ended. I can only assume Leigh Pomlett spent Monday evening sat in just his pants making a Leonardo DiCaprio meme saying “When you can’t afford to sack your manager but then get compo for him”.
Sad it didn’t work out. That meet the manager night was just amazing. Everyone was already buzzing at Bonser finally relinquishing one of his Walsall FC hats, and the way Darrell spoke that evening I thought we’d appointed some kind of managerial magician. He could have shit in his hand and I’d have still shaken it. Anyway good luck to Brian Dutton.

He hadn’t shit in his hand.


And That’s It.
Thanks for reading. Have a good Sunday and hopefully it’ll be another pub article next week,

The Man Who Nearly Pulls.

I’ve always been rubbish with the ladies. Being shy and having confidence levels lower than a sausage dog’s ball sack have really held me back in the search for Mrs Right. However it became a bit of a Monday morning in joke when asked if I’d pulled over the weekend to sometimes be able to reply “nearly”. One occasion I even got to upgrade it to “almost”. I haven’t had a date since 2013 so here’s some anecdotes about that night and the times beforehand. I’ve left most names out but if I hadn’t they’d have been changed to protect the horrified.

Sometimes When We Talk.

When I’ve worked at Walsall Beer Festival in the past I’ve been on the stall that sells wine, so plenty of female custom. And for some reason when I’m the other side of the bar I can speak. Lots. Of course it helps that the ladies have to order their booze but hey it’s nice for the ice to be broken easily. And in those instances I’m like Tom Cruise in Cocktail. Okay, I’ve never seen that film but I assume he speaks to the ladies.

Another time working a beer fest was at the Walsall Arms. Two lasses walk in and one introduces herself and her friend. I get talking to the one who did the introductions and after a couple of witty replies she says “you’re so funny”. Do I follow up with another good line? No I suddenly go all Jarvis Cocker and think “yeah but I can’t see anyone else smiling in here”. A few minutes later she asks if I’m due a break and do I want to join her outside for a cigarette? “No, I don’t smoke” was my response. Apparently this mean I was in. Sometimes I need things spelling out in flashing neon lights. She didn’t come back in.

Sometimes When We Text.

In 2006 my mate Dave gave my number to a lass and we began texting each other. One text shocked me a bit. “Oh my God, she’s watching Television X” I exclaimed a bit too loudly in a quiet pub. My mate Gareth took the phone for a look. “No, she’s watching television and the x is a kiss”. I’m now a bit more clued up to the concept of kisses at the end of a text message.

Sometimes When We Touch.


Yeah, let me join Tinder and I’ll come back to you on this one.

VD.

I don’t really do Valentines Day. I’d be all over it if in a relationship as I like to think I’m romantic. One time when I was in a relationship and I bought the missus a little locket in the shape of heart. She said “oh I didn’t think to get you anything”. Well we had only been going out a month. I did however get an epic meal of faggots and chips off her mom while she got something less exciting so I couldn’t complain.


I don’t send many Valentines cards out but they tend to go down like a lead balloon with an anchor attached for good measure, when I do. But the money saved on cards can be spent on fish fingers. I have seen on my Facebook feed this week a Valentines card which says “you make my knob throb”. I’ve bought 50 for next year.

I got my first Valentines Card when I was 14, a time when I had more hair and less weight. I remember it clearly (well you wouldn’t forget this) it said “I want to suck your willy and go to Walsall games with you”. I never found out who sent it but it left a thirst for knowledge that the aforementioned Jarvis’s missus could only aspire too.

Need For Speed Dating.

I once went to a singles night at The New Art Gallery. Not a success. The only lady who spoke to me actually worked there and told me off for taking a bottle of Becks into a gallery. Plus there was salsa dancing. All the men in a line and the ladies would move along to dance with each bloke. Typically I was next to the instructor. He nailed the dance and could talk as well. I couldn’t manage either but it doesn’t help when the lady dances with an expert, then comes to me. I can dance nowadays but it has to have been taught by an excellent choreographer.


So I explored speed dating, and was delighted when one such event was announced at The Light Cinema. I mentioned this in the pub and my mate Mase offered to play some female characters to help me practice. It was a bit awkward to start with but we got into it and had a laugh. My favourite character of his was the clearly hard work, uninterested Accountant Kirsty. When the conversation dried up I asked “what’s your favourite sum?” Well it broke the ice and I’ve pledged to ask on my next date the same question regardless of her profession. The cinema cancelled the night by the way, but I’ll always have the memories of Kirsty. The worlds best sum if you’re interested is 11 x 4. Not too exciting but it generates my favourite number and respects my limitations as I got an E in GCSE maths. Probably wouldn’t impress Rachel Riley but I don’t think she’s going to be banging my door down for a date in the immediate future.

Actual Dates.

Dave fixed up a date for me with a cracking lass in 1999. I couldn’t believe my luck and thought all my Chrstmasses and St George’s Days had come at once. However shyness got to me, I was so overawed and I couldn’t speak. The sentences just wouldn’t form. Fortunately we had gone bowling so we had that to distract from the long silences. Didn’t help when I attempted a swig from my pint, missed my mouth and spilled it down my shirt. I then hit my leg with a bowling ball. A colleague the following Monday commented “poor lass must have thought she was being fixed up with Frank Spencer”. Yeah I didn’t cover myself in glory that night but it’s hard to lay down the charms when you are wearing pumps that other people’s feet have been in. There was no second date.


So my last date was 2013 and like it’s predecessors it wasn’t a success. It didn’t help that this was at a time when a former housemate was 3 months into his “I don’t fancy paying you any rent” run, so I turned up that night not exactly flush. As I came back from the toilet I bumped into the rose seller so I opted to buy one but haggled the price down by a quid. The lady couldn’t be arsed to hold it though and gave it me back. So I took it home with me. The bouncers took the piss as I left clutching it so I had a laugh with them. I still have the rose and may take it on my next date to save me a couple of quid.

That rose.

Double O Ar, Licenced To Be Late.


Dave also arranged a date for me around 2004. I had to meet the lass in The Starting Gate but for some reason she had to go at 7 so he told me to come straight from work. Sorry but no. I’m going home to freshen up. Never turn down the chance to freshen up when it doesn’t cost you a quid. So I got home, washed, changed and put me coat on. Then there was a knock at the door. The tv licence detector man. This is the only visit of my life of this kind of person and he picks now. “I’m not here to fine you, I’m here to help” he says. “I’ve got a licence” I reply. “Well I need to see it”. Great. Sometimes I struggle to find my trousers in the morning, never mind a document delivered months earlier. It would have been easier and quicker to have eaten the tv like on The Young Ones. After 10 minutes of frantic hunting and basically destroying the Living Room he pipes up “Oh I’ve found you on the system. Sorry”. So I made the date, somewhat late, stressed and sweaty. She was nice but it wasn’t meant to be.


My best “on the pull” outfit.

No Point Crying Over Spilt Carling.


While we’re on about The Starting Gate I was heading past after a day of drinking with just £3 left to my name which was earmarked for goodness from Sunny’s Fish Bar in Caldmore. A lass I’d got to know a bit better the previous month was outside the pub and asked if I was having a pint. I wasn’t, I was having kebab meat and chips. I explained my shortage of cash. “Well you’ve got enough for a pint, and I’m only having one more”, so I agreed. We got drinks and just started to natter. Then the conversation stopped, our heads moved closer, as did our lips. Like you see on Eastenders. Just as we were about to kiss for some reason she raised her hand and manged to knock my (full) pint, all over me. Not a drop went on her, she couldn’t have been dryer. It looked like I’d pissed myself and got it all up my shirt too. Needless to say I didn’t make excuses, and left. Not seen her since and I think that was my last visit to the pub.

Thank you to all the ladies who helped make this blog happen, and apologies to the ones whose interactions with me weren’t interesting enough or too successful to make the cut. All I ask now is that you delete your memories of this blog as some of the stories appear in my novels which I’m hoping to launch as e-books later in the year. Finally if you know a single lady, ask her if she wants a date. Yesterday I saw on Twitter a tweet about a butchers in Otley that does a personalised pork pie for Valentines Day, and I really fancy receiving one of those next year.

My Second Homes, And I’m Not Even An MP.

Important thing your favourite pub is. Be it for somewhere to meet friends, or a place you can walk into any time and feel comfortable. Sometimes the urge to nip out for a pint and see who’s about strikes or you’ve had a crap day at work and just need to unwind a bit on the way home. I’ve done both of these in all of my favourite pubs. So let me tell you more about them.


The New Fullbrook. Favourite pub 1992-1998.
I didn’t really drink before I turned 18. Two days after coming of age it was time to start discovering pubs close to home. Accompanied by Sharon we walked to the bottom of the road. Turn right and a pub called The White Lion was close. Turn left and The Fullbrook was a slightly longer stroll away. I’m never likely to turn left on a plane so I did that night.
I’m shy, not very confident and was too scared to walk into the main room so we snook into the Lounge, a separate part of the pub in those days. I think I had two pints of Highgate Mild. A good start to this new chapter in my life.


Two days later I took another friend Gibbo along. To my horror he went into the main part of the pub and into the raucous sounding back room. I slowly followed. I was terrified but upon getting into that room he went off to play pool. So I just sat on my own drinking. Fortunately a couple of people started talking to me and that was it. I was soon making friends and I was heading in there at every opportunity.

The Fullbrook had something of a reputation. If I told people I drank in there they would look at me like I’d announced my local was the bar where Ted meets Elaine in Airplane. True, there were fights in there. One involving stools being thrown and a massive bottle full of coins being swung around concerned me and my friend Paul so much we moved our pints onto the window sill behind us before continuing to watch.


Despite the occasional scuffles there was a real sense of community in The Fullbrook. Everyone knew everyone else and you’d see the same faces in there night in night out. Friday’s which was disco night was perhaps the highlight. Although I once asked the dj for “More To This World” by Bad Boys Inc. Yeah, I wasn’t quite the cool indie music fan that you know me as today, back then. Every Friday there after when I walked in the dj would play this song with the announcement “Evo, your song’s on”. Obviously nowadays it would be something by Foo Fighters or The Vaccines.


Sunday night was karaoke and I think performing the hits of Right Said Fred on a regular basis was what really helped cement my place as a Fulbrook regular, known to all. People wanted to perform with me and even the seafood seller wanted in. So one night I put in his request for an Elvis song “Suspicious Minds” and the dj lined it up for when he arrived. It’s fair to say our harmonies were all over the plaice, it was a bit shit and nobody clapped. Perhaps they were a bit crabby. We didn’t perform again, and he didn’t even give me a free pack of prawns.


Probably the best of times in The Fullbrook was during Euro 96. The Holland and Scotland matches had the best atmospheres of games I saw in there. In the aftermath of the Spain game, a small window got broken during the celebrations. Sam the landlord asked two young lads to go round with a bucket to collect money to replace it. People were chucking fivers, tenners and all sorts in there. I think they could have double glazed the whole street with what it gleaned.

Sometime during the 90’s they decided to try and make The Fullbrook a bit more foody if I remember correctly, and they built these bizarre little walls in the back room. Not really sure why but it spoilt the room and really killed the vibe. Some people stopped going in and in 1998 I moved to Darlaston which stopped me going in for a number of years. I now live within a 20 minute walk of the place. It’s not the same as back in the 90’s but I’m glad it’s still open although I tend to only now go in before, after or on very rare dreadful occasions during Walsall games.


The Fitters Arms. Favourite pub 1998 – 2009.
So back in my early days of Fullbrook drinking, I befriended a group of fellow Saddlers, who on a Sunday night would go on a pub crawl of town before heading back to The Brook for the last hour of the night. I started tagging along. By 1998 I was living in Darlaston with Steve and Jane and they started going to a quiz at The Fitters on a Sunday. They asked me along but I refused due to already having stuff on on a Sunday. Then one evening not many folk were out and the night petered out. So I opted to go to the quiz. I didn’t know the pub. It was in a part of town I didn’t go to often but I ended up having a really good time. I got one question right, one more than I expected as it’s fair to say I’m not the brightest knife in the shed.


I continued going to town of a Sunday but I started sneaking off early and going to the quiz. I enjoyed drinking with people I lived with and the lift home was a bonus.

One Saturday I was at a loose end so decided to see what the place was like on a different night. It was karaoke. Nobody was singing so I thought I would, and treated them to the marvellous song “Nothing” by the band A. This song has to be belted out loudly. Upon finishing I saw the bemused looks on peoples faces. “Isn’t that the quiet guy who only comes in on Sundays and doesn’t speak?”. I’d arrived as a regular. Despite being 3 miles from home it became my local. It took an hour to walk there, about 80 minutes to get back. Especially when they were peddling the Highgate Bitter at £1.05 a pint.


I quickly grew to love The Fitters and was soon going in whenever I could, introducing friends to it so more drinking opportunities there would occur. You know when Karen Ramírez sings “I never knew I was looking for love until I found you” well change love for a new favourite pub and it summed up my feelings for the place. You could walk in there and live laugh love years before people started painting it on their walls.


Banter was a main thing in the Fitters with Dave the landlord being at the heart of most of it. Be it giving or receiving it. He once commented that he had painted the pub the previous year only to be told by my mate Alan “it may have been painted a year, but it certainly wasn’t the last fucker”. One of his classics was “the next person who farts is barred”. How I survived one incident then escapes me. During one quiz I popped off to the loo. The toilet doors were always open. I proceeded to do a fart mid piss and thought “that was a bit loud, hope I got away with it”. I hadn’t. Over the microphone came “Evo you dirty c**t” from Alan. The whole pub, possibly neighbourhood had heard it.

Hosting a quiz in The Fitters and looking totally delighted about it.


The Fitters was ace. There will never be another pub like it. I met one of my best friend’s Woza in there. It was the pub where I made my DJ debut and where I snogged a lass up against a fruit machine for the first (and only) time. I’d like more of both of those.


Sadly Walsall Council bought the place and shut it down in 2009, doing nothing with the land for another decade. Such a waste. I still think about the place every day.

My birthday bash at The Fitters in 2008


The Victoria (Katz) Favourite pub 2014 onwards.
With The Fitters closing we had a nomadic few years, wandering around visiting many Walsall pubs. We seemed to have a guest favourite pub every week, bringing a Have I Got News For You feel to the proceedings, with me representing the tub of lard no doubt. Then my mate Jase took over at Katz, a pub we’d gone in sporadically. After a few visits we had a new home.


The Katz (as it was briefly known as in the 80’s but the name has stuck), is a homely welcoming pub and the ale is always bang on. After one evening on the Salopian “Lemon Dream”, I mentioned to my colleague the next day that it was on and in excellent nick. He suggested a pint after work. It was only going to be one for him as he drives but I was already considering a couple more. It was a crap day at work, the thought of this pint was the only thing that got us through it. Come 5 o’clock though and his car was blocked in. It took about 8 minutes for us to leave. We got to Katz to find the last Lemon Dream had just gone. Trouble is when a great pub sells amazing beer, you can’t hang about cause it shifts.


Like the other pubs I was soon popping in Katz on my own, but I didn’t hang around in taking friends in there either. And we’ve had some cracking times. Me and Mase on St George’s Day in 2019 spent the evening laughing our heads off at stuff. I’d hit the pubs very early on which is a family tradition on that day which dates back centuries and by the time Mase turned up I was warmed up and ready to laugh about anything.


Another cracking time was New Years Eve 2018. Me, Jane & Sarah (possibly Mark too) were sat in the front bar, and a group of 6 from West Bromwich en route to a house party had found the pub and decided to break up the journey with a pint. Something I have done with other pubs many times. A couple within this group just suddenly turned into the funniest people ever, and this was before they produced Cards Against Humanity. We ended up having such a laugh they actually stayed until an hour before the bongs and singing of Auld Lang Syne. She even told her boyfriend to do his Jimmy Saville impression which involved him standing behind her, grabbing her breasts and nailing the voice. I’m not easily surprised but even I wasn’t expecting that.


Other epic times there have been retro gaming nights (check out Retro Daz on Facebook), cat bothering in the garden, glorious afternoons soaking up the sun, Sunday dinners (the large one is named after me, truly honoured) and it was also the venue where I chaired a Walsall CAMRA meeting for the first time. Nice to do that on familiar ground.

Me, reprising my role as milk monitor in Katz


It’s amazing to have a favourite pub. Apologies for waffling on so long but I hope it’s killed a couple of minutes until they re-open again, with or without booze.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.