Time off

It already feels like a long time ago, but we closed the bar for 10 days, so we could have a break and do some work in the bar.

Beginning in Peterborough, we visited familiar places.

A walk along the river was quickly abandoned due to an insane amount of flooding.

We did find a new (to us) micropub though.

After two nights in Peterborough, there was a day/night in York (which was also flooded).

Then, after a day at home, we were off to Edinburgh. We met up with a brewery rep for a couple of drinks; he introduced us to The Guildford Arms, a lovely old pub.

Another discovery was the Fierce bar, which had opened since our last time in Edinburgh. Fortunate, since we’re quite fond of their beer (we’ve had a few kegs in the bar). Weirdly, the bar person had been in our bar.

We spent the following day mostly in Leith.

It was good to fit in a couple of brewery taps, as well as some bars we’ve previously visited.

Of course, we took the customary picture of the cool T3 in Leith.

CMAT

Yes, we went to see her a few months ago (feels like ages) in Nottingham. And she was great.

And we saw her again last night. She was greater.

CMAT.

Watch out, she’s going to be huge.

We want to be a cowboy, baby.

Fish & Chips

I’m currently reading a novel written and set in the US in late 40s. I should probably say 1940s in case someone reads this in 30 years time.

There’s a reference to someone living in a flat. Not an apartment, a flat.

The main character also, on one occasion, dined on fish and chips. Not fries.

I found it interesting.

I’m not finished the book yet, so who knows what remains to be discovered.

QOTSA

Most people know I’m rather fond of Glasgow. I am.

So, it was an obvious choice of location to see Queens of the Stone Age. I’d never actually been to one of their gigs before, having only seen them a couple of times at festivals.

And, on the night, I realised that it’d been some time since I’d been to an arena gig. And around a dozen years since I’d been to that particular venue.

It was a good one too.

The only negative of the night, in common with most venues, was the shocking choice of drinks. I mean, not everyone drinks lager.

Another negative, the day before, was the discovery that the 13th Note, my most favourite bar in Glasgow, had closed in July.

According to a guy in Mono, around the corner, someone new was brought in to manage the place. Their treatment of staff hadn’t been great, resulting in their joining a union and, ultimately, striking.

Of course, this was all second hand, and the notice in the window seemed to give another side to the story. Still, it was so sad to see the place closed.

On a positive note, new bars were discovered, such as the State Bar. A great little pub with a good selection of hand-pulls.

Harriet was a big hit there, with staff and customers making a fuss of her. They were even happy to see her back the next day.

It was the same in Sloan’s. While I’ve been there many times, it was the first time with the hound.

The hound was also brilliant on the train, not that she’s ever been anything but good. But that does mean that we can plan other trips with her.

The Split Squad

Until fairly recently, I’d not heard of the Split Squad.

But, when I’d heard that Clem Burke was their drummer, and they had a gig around the corner in the Central Bar, I bought a couple of tickets right away.

In the days leading up to the gig, I played their stuff in the bar. Some of it sounded a little dated at first, like US indie music from the early 90s. But it really grew on me.

The band were genuinely good too, it was a great gig.

And Clem Burke was a lovely guy.

A long time ago

I don’t often post pictures of myself.

Someone I worked with a long time ago, sadly died a year or two ago. I’d not seen them in ages and they’d retired years ago.

Some old photos they’d taken back then seem to have been passed to someone from their team.

This is one of those photos, a picture of a picture.

I’ve no memory of the picture of the event, but I do remember the guys I was with. They were also team leaders in the same group.

Those windows definitely weren’t those of the office, so this must have been taken at an off site conference or other event.

I could easily be wrong, but I’d make a guess at the early 90s.

It’s pretty scary how time goes so quickly.

The Dead South

I might have inflicted the Dead South on customers in the bar over the past couple of weeks.

I’d wanted to see them when they last toured the UK, but somehow it never happened. Despite a virus that’s been hanging on for weeks, I wasn’t going to miss them last night.

And I’m so glad I made the effort. They were just brilliant.

Paul Carrack

A few days ago, with a rather nice bunch of people, I spent the day in York, ending with Paul Carrack at the Barbican.

Even though I’ve spent a lot of time in York, often walking past the Barbican, I’d never been there for a gig.

And it was a good one – such a talented guy.

Mr Petherbridge

I once worked with a guy called Tom. That was a long time ago, back in 1979. He left after a few months to do a full time degree course at Sunderland Uni. We kept in touch, made easier by a good friend of mine (Ian) attending the same course. I guess you could say we were friends too.

We formed a social group, me, my then wife Gill, Ian, Tom and Louise. Things were great for a couple of years and we were a pretty close bunch. But, as they do, some cracks started to form and the group slowly started to dissolve. In Tom’s case, his mother remarried and moved to Wales. Since he was living at home at the time, he ended up moving too. He held back a little while, though, to finish his degree, occupying Louise’s spare room in Washington.

Following his move, in the early 80s, we lost touch. Remember, this was well before the worldwide web, email and mobile phones. It was a shame, but that’s the way things tend to go. And maybe we were all ready to go our different ways.

Around 15 (I’m really not sure) years later, I bumped into Tom while waiting for a bus home after work. He was in the area to visit his Dad (who he didn’t really get on with) and to see old places. At that time, he had a share in an audio company. Our reunion was interrupted by the arrival of my bus. We vaguely committed to keeping in touch; he still had my landline number. It was an awkward meeting, though, and I didn’t really expect to hear from him again.

Rolling forward to 2016/7, something reminded me of Tom. I don’t remember what, but I put his name into a search engine. His name, I should say, was Tom Whelan.

Unexpectedly, his name appeared in a lot of forum entries relating to a now defunct audio company. The company had been based in Barry, where I knew Tom had moved, so I was pretty confident I’d found the right person. His email address was included, so I gave it a shot. Looking back, I’m not sure why I did that. Maybe it was because there were loose ends after group dissolved. Possibly guilt too, since I’d not made an effort to keep in touch all those years ago.

He quickly replied and many email, then WhatsApp, exchanges later, we’d caught up. He’d married a Doctor, a Russian, and was himself self employed in electronics. He travelled daily from Barry to Bristol for work. Our exchanges continues, sometimes with gaps of weeks, even months, but we’d finally managed to keep in touch. Because of his Dad’s past bad behaviour towards his mother, and him too, he’d adopted his mother’s name, Petherbridge.

Before the Pandemic, he travelled to Russia with his wife to spend time with her family. He posted a bar of Russian chocolate to me. There was talk of him visiting the Northeast and a reunion of sorts with Ian. I’d toyed with the idea of making the trip to Barry. I kept him updated after the occasional lunch with Ian.

During my last lunch meeting with Ian, I mentioned my concern that I’d not heard from Tom for a few months. This wasn’t in itself unusual, since we often had those gaps. But this time was different. I’d sent Tom a picture of the building we’d both worked in, in March, but I’d had no response. Ian convinced me that I was probably worrying about nothing, as I would have done for him. Ian sent him a message, just in case.

As more time passed, my concerns returned. Ian hadn’t had a reply and I’d had no reply to an email I’d sent (in case he’d ended up with a new number.

A few months ago, I’d bought a pallet of beer from a brewery in Wales. This was soon followed by another order. The brewery is based in Barry. I asked the brewery if someone could call at Tom’s house, if anyone was passing nearby. Just to check he was ok.

On Monday, I received an email from the Brewery, asking for my number. Knowing that this wasn’t going to be good news, I quickly replied. They rang straight away.

They’d called that morning, but there was no answer at Tom’s house. So the tried a neighbour’s house. The neighbour told them that Tom had fallen ill a few months ago. Just a pee infection, but he’d developed sepsis and passed away.

Both Tom and I knew that we’d never re-establish that friendship from all those years ago. We’d become different people and everything we’d had in common had been left behind. Still, I’ve been feeling pretty sad since that phone call.

Anyway, goodbye Mr Petherbridge. If the pub we used to frequent on a Friday lunchtime still existed, I’d go there and raise a glass to you.

Tom Whelan, New Year, 1982.

Norfolk

It’s already fading away into the past, although it was only a couple of weeks ago.

The van coped really well with the distance, and the travelling between towns. Only a couple of things broke.

Our first stop, at Banham, involved a most pleasant afternoon with old friends (from the northeast).

Our stay in Banham was something of an accident; we’d not realised that we’d stayed at the same place a decade or so earlier. After a couple of days, we moved on.

I’d never been to Great Yarmouth before; I found, as I’d been advised, that it resembles Blackpool.

Gorleston was much nicer, although the dog enjoyed the beach at both places. We did manage to find some pretty cool bars, particularly the Tombstone brewery and Thirsty Crow.

On the return trip, there was the compulsory stay in Peterborough.