Sunday, 19 February 2012

Treating you like a 'proper' football/cricket supporter.

I am a fully paid up member of the "Manchester United Sky Armchair Supporters Club."  It's not been officially recognised yet.  If United ("Glory, Glory") are on the electric fish tank - I have got to watch them.  They make me happy and they make me sad.  To some they are a religion and to others it's 'anybody but Manchester United'.

Whilst it is great watching your favourite football teams (I have about seven who I always look for their results) on the television.  It is no real substitute for watching a real live football match.  I spent many a year watching Third and Fourth Division and Northwest Counties football.

Living in rural Ireland.  I really miss watching a 'real live' football match - even if it is only 'one man and his dog' supporting their local team.  Night matches under the floodlights always created a ambience and mesmeric atmosphere.  It was also the waft of the aroma of a meat and potato pie and cup of Bovril that gave you the reason to LIVE in the depths of winter supporting your local team.

Another memorable sporting experience was when my parents used to take me to Scarborough for a weeks holiday.  It was great when I was in my youth playing football on the beach, exploring the castle, visiting Anne Bronte's grave and going to see the Grumbleweeds at the Futurist theatre.

One year I went with them when I was aged 20.  I decided I had enough of walking round every street, peering in cafe windows and reading menus while me dad and mum would look at eath other and say:

"Well what do you think?"

"It doesn't look very clean".

"There's nothing I could eat".

This sojourn normally went on until Wednesday morning.  Then for the next two days we would be 'settled' in their fitting place of choice for some 'brekkie' and a 'nice cup of tea'.

I decided to watch the cricket instead - even it was YORKSHIRE!  Wait a minute dear reader.  My great grandfather came from the white rose county.  So I could probably find a bit of Yorkshire blood if I needed to.  I can also find Welsh, English and Irish for that matter.

Anyway.  Where was I?  Yes that's right.  I was in Scarborough Cricket Club.  Yorkshire v Worcestershire and Yorkshire v Sri Lanka!  Not on the same day mind.  It was a brilliant experience.  There where bars and food, and they even let you take your plastic cricket bat and tennis ball on to the outfield ("don't walk on pitch") and Sir Geoffrey Boycott walked passed me (he also supports MUFC) and said to me:

"Hiya son".

Can you imagine walking onto Old Trafford (football ground) with a football under one arm and holding a pint in your other hand, and Ryan Giggs saying:

"Hiya mate?"

No. I can't either!
Congrats to Sir Christiano Ronaldo ("Twinkle Toes") for his 28th goal of the season!


  1. Never watched a football match, nor a cricket match. Used to be a memeber of Workington Cricket Club, but only to be elegible to drink in their bar, at club prices and outside normal pub hours, this was in the days when there was definite licencing hours.

    I always wanted to play something rather than watch, and snooker was my obsession for many years, got to be quite good at it too.
    They used to say a good snooker player was the sign of a mis-spent youth.
    But when I see the purses the top players pick up, I often wish I'd mis-spent abit more of mine.

  2. Snooker. Yeah that's a good subject. Alex Higgins 'The People's' champion. Never forget when he won the world title for the second time in 1982. Jimmy White was brilliant also. How much do they charge for the light these days? What's your highest break Cumbrian?

  3. 37 is really good. Mine is 23.

    I have been looking up the etymology of the game snooker. It was invented during the monsoon season in India by the British. I think I.P.A (was it 'Imperial or Indian Pale Ale?) was also invented around the same time, but they never actually shipped it there? Younger's pubs used to sell it along with good old 'Eighty shillings'. Perhaps they still do? I must have another go at brewing some bitter.

  4. Eighty shilling, seventy shilling, exhibition ales, haven't seen them for years, but I think the IPA is still available?
    I think it was India Pale Ale, developed to travel well to send to our troops in India? Or so the story goes.

    Yes mate, have a go at the home brewing.
    Since my wife became a wheelchair user and needs just about continuous care, I don't get far, so my nightly jaunts to the pub have been curtailed. So I aquired the home produced alcohol ethic as applied to wines and beers.

    The modern beer kits are really so much improved from the old ones I remember 30-odd years ago, and so simple to make.
    The dispense was always the thing that let home brew down, either a lot of bottles to steralize / cap amd hope they didn't explode; or a plastic barrel with various ways of getting gas in; neither seemed to give a head equel to the pub pint.
    Now you can get something called a cornelius keg, reconditioned ex-pub trade stainless pressure kegs, they were used for the soft drink dispense, but when the system was changed, several thousand of these things became redundant. At 18 litres capacity, they fit home brewing very nicely, with an inlet and outlet, idiot-proof, one for gas in (proper pub gas) and the other takes a tap (or tube to a tap) so a very professional dispense can be acheived.
    I've been pleasantly surprised at the quality I'm brewing.

    Can't do lager very well, water's too soft here, but brilliant real ales and Irish stouts.

    I generally pay for the better kits, about £20, might sound a lot, but no sugar to add, and the end result compares favourably with anything you can get in the pub, still only works out about 50-60p a pint.

    Some of my wine's been very nice as well, currently drinking mead and rice wine, both turned out well. But I seem to have a failure rate with the wines. Nice hobby though, I keep trying.

    Sadly I beleive home distilling is against the rules.
    So the moonshine potcheen's not to be made.

  5. Thanks for that Cumbrian. Sorry about your wife's illness and that you don't get to the pub that often. I don't get there myself much. It's too dear and there is no public transport and taxis are too expensive. Not to mention that nobody is the pubs until ten at night.

    I have some home brewed bitter I made last year and wonder if it is still drinkable? I will try some tonight and let you know!

    Here in these parts they call the poteen/potcheen/moonshine? - "the Lemonade". I think a company in the UK starting making it many 'moons' ago?

    The Irish farmer's always kept or even keep a bottle if they have a sick cow. I believe Vodka is Moonshine really?

    Thanks for that Cumbrian.

  6. I had a drink of last years home brew last night. It was very good. I am going to get some more on the go today. I heard of somebody (think I read about it?) who used to sell home brew for 50p a bottle.

  7. Nowt wrong with keeping it a bit, most people try to drink it too soon. I once forgot about a crate of bottles and uncovered it ages after, couldn't even remember how long, must have been a year at least. it was tghe best I ever tasted, barley wine it was.

    My Irish stout must be nearing the bottom, the big down-side of the cornelius keg is that you can't see the level, and if you try to lift it to guess, it disturbs the sediment (pulls off from bottom) and you have to wait for it to settle, a week or so. I have 2 kegs, so when the stout goes I drink the other one and start a new brew, got a Norfolk Werry to try, the last one was superb.

    The poteen I think is just a variation of (different name for) vodka, every country seems to have an illicit distilled liquer of some sort. I haven't seen an authentic recipe for poteen, but my research has led me to believe it's only water, sugar and yeast fermented out to give an alcoholic wash about 14-16%, which is then distilled to produce the vodka about 55%, 5 gallons of wash producing 1 gallon of spirit.

    A fascinating study the different types of stills used, some of them can produce very pure alcohol. Tthere's one advertised for home use, not in UK, but it's quite acceptable in some more enlightened countries (New Zealand for example) to distil at home. Try easystill in your google. You might be able to justify its use as a cow medicine producing unit.

  8. The Celtic Whiskey Shop sells: Bunratty Irish Potcheen, Cooley single pot Poitin and Knockeen Hills.

    I have heard that potatoes and barley are used in the Poteen. I have also heard horrific tales of people drinking it and going blind and even using 'Rats' for the ingredients.

    I Googled easy still. It looks good. I think the: 'powers that be' won't let people distil their own because governments won't make any money (tax) from it.

    There are a few small craft breweries in Ireland now. But there are none down here. I think the nearest one is nearly 60 miles away (Franciscan Brewery) in Cork city. Bitter never took off over here. I think it's because the farmers never grew hops?

    Thanks Cumbrian!

  9. They used to have 3 grades of potcheen for sale at the duty-free (as it was then) at the Folkstone shuttle terminal shop, dunno if it's still there, I haven't been for years. 3 different strengths, the top one was something unbeleivable, I can't remember exactly what, but it would probably run your car. Or helicopter.

    I've heard potatoes are used in the production of poteen, but never found a recipe for it, maybe throw a few in the wash to ferment together?

    You're probably right, the "powers that be" wouldn't get any money out of home-distilled cow medicine.

    Bitter probably never took off there because the Guinness is too good. Just a pity it's so expensive (or so heavily taxed). Best of luck to the small craft breweries, they will probably make some really good brews, there's one at Cockermouth, The Bitter End, a pub with its own micro brewery, seen through a glass wall from the bar. Which means all the equipment is on display, and immaculately cleaned. The head brewer, strange to say, is a woman. (Not meant to sound sexist, but it's not usually a womans choice of occupation)

    Did you manage to get a brew on today?

  10. No Cumbrian. They didn't have any kits yesterday. Will get one going in the next few days.

    I think the price of a pint in a pub is dear everywhere. Somebody told me that a publican pays Two pounds/Euros for it and they make whatever they sell it for. So if they sell it for 3.50, they make 1.50 a pint. Dunno if this is true?

    Drinking at home is said to be very popular these days with the so called 'cheap' brands and wine from the supermarkets. There is no substitute though for the company and banter you get in a good local bar.

    The country pubs are closing down every week here. People daren't drink and drive anymore and the goverment won't provide infrastructure like public transport.

    I heard of a brilliant idea the other day to solve this. The government could subsidize taxi fares and give country dwellers a taxi voucher to use to get about. There are also all the school buses (often private tenders) that could be used to provide public transport. The Govts provide subsidized transport in urban areas. Why don't they do the same in rural areas?

    Sorry for the rant. But it really annoys me that people can't get about and enjoy a few pints and get transported home dry and safely!

    Thanks Cumbrian!

  11. Yes mate, couldn't agree more.
    In Cumbria, at least West Cumbria, my area, village pubs are only a memory in some villages, and quite a lot of the ones that do survive do so on the strength of their bar menu, they're more like restaurants with a bar than a pub that does food. And they die fairly early, everybody wants to get home to avoid the breathalizer and for the cheap booze. The locals aren't there in numbers any more, they prefer the cheap booze at home too.
    And the smoking ban, in my opinion, has made a contribution. I gave up the weed 6 years ago, but still defend your right to smoke if you wish. It's all very well sitting outside having a fag on a warm July evening, but not so clever in January. What was wrong with the lounge and bar situation, wanna smoke, go in the bar, don't wanna smoke, go in the lounge. It's pathetic seeing half a dozen otherwise sensible people shivering outside in the rain to have a smoke. I know the non-smoking brigade point out that some people wouldn't go into a smokey pub, but non-smokers don't tend to be drinkers either in my experience anyway.
    Add to that the lack of public transport and the high cost of taxis, and I would think the days are numbered for quite a few more country pubs.

    I don't have any idea what the landlord pays for a barrel of beer, I do know prices seem to vary a lot more than they used to, so maybe you're correct. I also know an awful lot of the price of a pint goes to the government in the form of tax.

    It's very sad, a British institution being killed by buraucracy and over-taxation.

  12. Cumbria sounds like rural Ireland. Every week we hear tales of police stations, village shops/post offices, schools and pubs closing down. I agree with everything you have just said. I am also an ex smoker (19 years) and I think that people who smoke should not be treated like dogs and be forced to be stood out in the cold and rain.

    The country pubs are dying or becoming bistros and wine bars for the rich. There aren't many working class people who can afford to live in the countryside (there's no work) or go in the 'plastic' pubs. You can pay quarter of a million for an ex farm labourers house - watch "ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY!"

    Another downside of rural living is: Rural Isolation. People stay at home and lose their social 'mixing' skills. I know of at least eight suicides in the last two years here in West Cork.

    The countryside is full of 'dormitory housing' (people have to travel miles to work) and people who never speak to their neighbours. I do believe the same can be said in the towns these days. Many people don't even speak to their next door neighbour. I can go a week without speaking to anybody but my family and my Internet friends in England and Poland.

    Thank God for the Internet. Great comments Cumbrian!

  13. The West Cumbrian - Rural Ireland similarities continue.
    Well within my memory, every village had a Post Office, Police house, and a village shop, as well as the usual pub(s). And a bus service that meant people could go to town for anything they couldn't buy in the village and return the same day, at reasonable times.
    They also had butchers, market gardeners, milkmen, travelling shop vans (usually the co-op), a coal man, quite often a chippy, and a lot of farms.

    Now I can think of quite a few small villages with none of these things, except in the memories of the older inhabitants. Some of the villages are peopled almost entirely by "dormitory housing" types, not usually local people, and they tend to have good incomes, who can afford to inflate the cost of local housing to a point where locals can't afford them. Sadly these people don't tend to support local community facilities; they shop in supermarkets, drink in their houses, use credit cards not cash, and drive flashy cars instead of catching buses. And as you say, don't tend to socialize.

    Most of the Post Offices and village shops have gone, as have all the police houses, and the remaining local pubs and chippies are struggling. There's no butchers, the EEC slaughter regulations and Tescos seem to have closed them, as they've stopped the travelling shops and bankrupted the milkmen. Only a couple of (bigger) farms left with lots of huge machines and a very few men, they don't need the labourers cottages, especially when they can command £200,000 plus which no farm labourers can possibly afford. The coal man's just about redundant with gas heating and smokeless zones. What buses are left tend to have a timetable based on the calendar rather than on the clock.

    And then they wonder why older people with no car and no credit cards get lonely? And rural suicides are an all-time high?

  14. You have certainly got your finger on the pulse Cumbrian. In my time( 48 years old) visiting and living in Ireland. I have seen the local Anglican church, a post office, grocers, blacksmiths and a saddle makers shop all close.

    Welsh coal merchants used to bring coal over from South Wales, the local farming co-operatives used to buy crops (potatoes, sugar beet, daffodils, onions..) for a fair price off the small farmers. The government agricultural agency used to give you grants to drain and reclaim land.

    What now? Empty holiday homes, no public transport, no local shops and the kids emigrate or move to the city.

    Back to the smoking. They will ban smoking in the pubs. But they will allow school playgrounds to be situated next to main roads emitting pollution from the 32 million cars on the UK roads.

    It's enough to drive you to drink. Thanks Cumbrian!

  15. Empty holiday homes......and the kids emigrate of move to the city.

    That says it all.

    Be going now mate, back in a couple of weeks to catch up.

  16. Thanks for all the comments Cumbrian.

  17. Just reading yrs and Cumbrian's comments in re pubs and totally agree about everything! Went pub (in London) for the first time in a million years, and (steady now!) bought a round for 6 people. It came to 21 quid - I nearly had an heart attack. Turns out the beer was (hold onto something steady) £4.70 per pint!!!!! And you can't even have a fag, for gawd's sake. Why don't they just sell me a stick and let 'em beat me with it! (In Desi Arnaz voice) 'Pubs!! You got some 'splaining to do!' Grrrrr.

  18. Hiya Carol. Thanks for that. The pubs will out price themselves if they haven't done already. I am always popping over to Ben's adventures in wine making blog and I always read your blog every week and you make me laugh. You have a great sense of humour. I reckon we should all take a leaf out of Ben's book and brew our own.

    Thanks for your comments Carol.


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