Back from Chorley Thursday night back in Manchester was one of the worst in my life. And I’ve spent New Year’s Eve in Maidenhead.
You’ll remember I was helping to settle young Matt in during his week in the Big City, sharing a room at Ibis Budget on the edge of Ancoats.
That Thursday night, he didn’t come back. And his phone was dead. And, no, he wasn’t in the Cloudwater Tap across the road.
So I didn’t sleep, walking the streets of Ancoats at 3am in the morning and staring into the Piccadilly Basin.
I’ve never felt as relieved as I was when I finally got a text at 6.29am half-way into a Costa Americano.
“Sorry. Phone died, stayed round mates. Back soon.”
As I said before, let them go.
I let you have that as context for the Beer & Pubs Forum Proper Pub Crawl round Preston on Friday.
Quite frankly, I was knackered. But Paul Mudge keeps a register and there’s a prize for regular attendance. And I wanted to see Matthew Lawrenson’s shirt.
I parked, for free, in Penwortham, just across the Ribble. Looks safe to me.
An overdue trip to the home of Proper Pubs, the paisley prince and the Football League offices.
The growth in visiting teams calling cards is one of the striking features in UK football culture.
Fleetwood Town I just about get,
but Eintracht Frankfurt ?
I’d given Matt my own phone charger (and extracted a promise that he’d use it), so I popped in to Fishergate to buy myself a new one.
Then I set off to take photos of tall buildings.
By 10.30am I’d had 2 hours sleep in 28 hours, but was perked up by a chance of two more flat whites before our 11.15 kick-off in the Old Vic.
You may recall that at Christmas the Twelve Tellers was a bit manic.
Friday morning revealed a tranquility and grandeur I’d missed last time.
There was no way I was drinking Wobbly Bob or Plum Porter at 10.30am; who do you think I am. Good to see some well-dressed folks keeping pubs going though.
Two more flat whites, one topped up with espresso, and it was time to face the heroes of the pubbing world, however reluctantly.
To be a hero, like Tom.