My futile diversion to a closed pub in Helperby only cost me 10 minutes in travel time, and I made the Tess in time for the Friday teatime swagger down Yarm High Street.
Yarm (pop: 8,384) is the posh bit of Teesside, a North-eastern Alderley Edge or Epping. An invigorating mix of “Excellent” schools, Italian trattoria and The Little Bra Shop.
I bet all the premiership footballers of Middlesbrough or Stockton FC live here and get taxis into town for their night on the banked Bass in The Sun.
I’d been here once, a decade ago, and joined a packed crowd of smartly dressed folk avoiding the average Bass in the Black Bull.
Back in 2010 it was standing room only. In July 2020 in the Ketton Ox it’s strictly all-seated.
I’ve just realised I missed my chance to use my 50p voucher in this upmarket Stonegate.
But that was the least of my worries as I was approached by the greeter, directed first to the handwash, thence to the bar to make my selection from a hidden beer range and swipe my payment,
and finally to Table 19. I had no idea where Table 19 was but guessed correctly I’d be stuck away in the corner away from the beautiful people (the ones who don’t live on parmos).
I’d been given a slip of paper with a squiggle on it and politey asked to “Scan the QR code“, which to someone born in 1964 sounds like a track on “Hex Induction Hour”.
By the time I’d downloaded the App the pint had arrived; by the time I’d managed to align the code with my camera I’d finished a decent but unexceptional Landlord. It was, mind, only £3.10 in a smart town; keep that in mind.
Table 20 received a tray of four Morettis.
“Oy, they’re ours !” said Table 22, momentarily distracted from Norwich v Burnley.
“Too late, we’ve touched them now, we’ll have to drink them !” said Table 20.
Sorry, that’s the best the Ketton Ox could offer, bar my amazement that Teessiders on high heels and a third Wu Wu could follow the arrows.
But, unexpectedly, Yarm itself had more to offer.